Let There Be Snow – Exploring Alberta

Alberta Canada

Athena has yet to build a snowman, ride on a sled, skate on the ice, or experience a winter wonderland. With the help of Travel Alberta, we are going to change that. From December 14th – December 20th, we will experience unique activities in one of the most beautiful winter destinations. Vast and varied in landscape, I’ll take you from Calgary to Lake Louise on a bucket list adventure worth braving the cold.

Although plans change regularly, this is what we’re hoping to explore:
Arrive in Calgary and visit the Calgary Zoo for Zoo Lights
Travel to Canmore, go tubing at Norquay Mountain, and check out Canmore’s new Elevation Place.
Travel to Banff and visit Banff Hot Springs
Travel to Lake Louise, ski, skate, and enjoy a sleigh ride
Depart for home

With those cities, dates, and travel companion (a 20 month old) in mind, is there something spectacular that I’m missing?

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82 thoughts on “Let There Be Snow – Exploring Alberta

      • It’s interesting that you are afraid of the cold, yet are from Canada. Although it would explain why you live in North Carolina now lol I live in Chicago and I am used to the cold, but I don’t really look forward to it.

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        • The cold is why I left Canada. 😉

          I lived in northern Manitoba for a few years though and it doesn’t get much prettier than a cold winter’s night and an open, starry sky. It’s the image of that and the opportunity for Athena to experience it herself that draws me back.

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      • I’ll really scare you now. -43 with wind chill this morning. LOL. Are you going to look for the ghost in the Banff Springs Hotel? Or take your little one snowshoeing?

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          • Once our children are stable with their walking we find snowshoeing is no problem. Before they are walking we put them in a backpack like you use for hiking. Cave and Basin or Fenlands would be easy enough for a child to snowshoe at and both are basically right in Banff.

            You might also want to check out this blog http://lindacotestudio.wordpress.com/ . She is a Canmore artist, a 10 minute drive from Banff, you will go right past the town if you are flying into Calgary and driving to Banff on the Trans Canada. She is a printmaker and deals a lot with local and mountain imagery. It might be something to do if it ends up being very cold when you are visiting.

            Have a great trip.

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  1. Part of the reason I left Canada is the cold. Alberta’s my home province, though you won’t be anywhere near Edmonton. I’d suggest taking a look at Frank Slide if you have the chance. The massive landslide was the result of cutting too many tunnels through Turtle Mountain for mining, and it destroyed half the town of Frank.

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  2. You don’t want Athena’s face getting frostbite, and that can happen easily in this kind of weather. Be careful. Not something I would do. There are better times of the year to go to Calgary and area and snowy places to go where you don’t risk frostbite; places where you can play outside in the snow and not freeze to death. It’s a great itinerary you have planned, but IMHO it’s the wrong time to do it. But then, I’m always over-cautious.

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    • I lived in Norway House, Manitoba for two years so I’m familiar with the extreme cold. I’ve been planning and buying the right gear to keep us protected. Short activities and full coverage. 😉

      I’m not overly cautious but I am when it comes to my daughter. I’d never put her at risk.

      Alberta is amazing though and I want to explore in the winter. I want to see the northern lights, ride on a sleigh, and see a snowy Lake Louise. Families live there all year and I’m sure they don’t keep kids inside all winter.

      Do you prefer warmer climates?

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      • I’m sure you know what to do if you’ve lived in a cold climate. I think what made me perk up was the fact that this week there has been an extra cold blast going through and I remembered how, years ago, my dad noticed my cheek turning white in one spot. He was quite panicked about getting me back in the house. It was a sunny day, but very cold. Anyway, I know you’ll take care of Athena and will watch for this kind of thing. I agree though, there are beautiful winter scenes in Alberta. And yes, after ten years in Dawson Creek, I’ve sworn never again to live in a place that gets that cold. Nothing wrong with Dawson Creek except the cold weather.

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  3. Lesley how great that you are coming here! You definitely have some top things on your list. Having Athena along you definitely don’t want to get overbooked. So here are some suggestions however I know it will not all be possible.
    Some othe things that come to mind would be dogsledding , seeing Banff Springs Hotel and of course Chateau Lake Louise. Banff Springs Hotel has an amazing spa. ( this is different than the hot springs)
    As you may know the main area of the Calgary Zoo just reopened after the flood. Athena might like to go during day time hours to see some of the wonderful animals and especially the penguins. Zoo lights is remarkable as well. Next door to the Zoo is the Telus Spark Science Center aimed at children of all ages.Heritage Park in Calgary is another wonderful spot for kids.
    Clearly you need to stay longer 🙂
    If I can be of any help to you prior to arrival or while you are here don’t hesitate to contact me [email protected]

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    • We’re looking into dog sledding but Athena might be too little. No worries though, I’m sure we’ll find amazing things to do.

      I don’t need to stay longer; I need to keep visiting 😉

      Have you been to Zoo Lights; I’m pretty certain we’re doing that. What is it like? How long will we be there? Is everything outside? Are there places to warm up?

      🙂

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      • Lesley I have been to Zoo lights on many occasions. All the lights are outside, some bonfires to warm up as well as at least one cafeteria, restroom area. However plan to dress really warm as you will need to walk from the parking lot. Do you know about hand warmers…the little packs you open and they give off heat for 6 hours or so? Might be handy to bring along. You could wander around for a couple of hours but even if you see some of it that will be great. Does that help?

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          • Lesley thanks so much! I am in California to do the marathon this weekend returning home late on the 10th so unfortunately I may miss your deadline. I appreciate the opportunity and will do my very best to get a submission in! You have been a great mentor to me a new blogger. I appreciate that not only are you successful but are willing to model the way for others and provide opportunities. You go girl!

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          • Thanks Lesley. If you can believe it there is snow in the forecast for Sacramento tomorrow morning! The world is upside down apparently. The cold temps will be fine for the Canadians 🙂 I will definitely get something to you and sincere thanks. Stay tuned about the …gulp…marathon:) Bucket list indeed!

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  4. Calgary in the winter with a toddler – I like your style 🙂 If you have time I would suggest the Glacier Parkway out of Lake Louise, north towards Edmonton. Certainly not the entire drive but Athabaska Glacier is not too far, and a ride on the massive vehicles (designed to manoeuvre on the glacier) is extremely cool.

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    • I think Alberta is a must in the winter. I know it’s cold but it will be worth the scenery. Which areas did you visit while you were there? What was your favorite? What about activities? Anything really stand out as the best in your eyes?

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  5. Wow, what a trip, I’m very jealous! I second Jay Dee’s recommendation of Frank Slide, it’s an incredible place, takes your breath away. Other than that, wrap up warm, take lots of photos and have an awesome time!

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  6. I look forward to reading about the adventure (both the trip and how your daughter enjoys her first time in the snowy cold) No need to tell you really as you come from there – just wrap her up warm and I’m sure she’ll love it. 😉

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      • I do like the warmth too. I live in a part of Australia that is sub-tropical, so it is basically hot all the time. When it is not hot it is rainy and humid. I want to live in a place that experiences all of the seasons!

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  7. I hope you have a fun trip! My Mom went to that area with a friend of hers this last September and the photos she took were spectacular. It made me want to visit, but perhaps not in the winter 🙂 I am sure your daughter will have great memories of her first snow.

    I only found this blog the other day and I have been looking at your past post this morning while drinking the wake up tea. It is a happy way to wake up. Great photos.

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      • It was my Mom and her friend that made the trip. I only got to see the pictures 🙂 My Dad doesn’t really like to travel so my Mom and an old friend of hers have been going on a trip once a year for the last decade or so. This trip they started in the Canadian Rockies and then spent the last few days in Vancouver. They flew in and out of Calgary for the Rockies part of it. The places she stayed were in Baniff, Lake Louise, and Jasper Park. My Mom is in her 70s as is her friend so the hikes they took were short ones. All the pictures she took were stunning and they were with her phone. She had a lot of fun. I am sure it looks very different now with the snow, but I imagine it will be beautiful. And a sleigh ride, what magic!

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  8. How about standing on the glass floor of the Calgary Tower. Somewhere in my archives I have a good shot of the family jumping above the plate glass, and a view down onto to the streets below.

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  9. One of my favourite places in the world! If you have the time I would visit Jasper as well! A bit quieter than the more southern parks which may be nice during the holiday season. Looking forward to pictures!

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    • I visited Jasper a few years ago so it’s not on the list for this visit, although I’d love to go back with my family in the near future. It’s such a beautiful area and I love how the animals are right on the road! So cool!

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  10. I think it is fantastic that you are planning this trip! This is a perfect time of year to check these areas out. I grew up in Calgary and enjoyed winter. Though I am glad to be living in Belize right now with -30C temperatures at home. But with the way the weather works in that area it could be 0C by next week. You may want to check into a dogsled ride in the Lake Louise or Canmore area. I have not done one but a friend of mine did one this week and loved it. Great for a little one once they are bundled up. Have fun.

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  11. Shame you are missing my favourite part of Alberta which is Jasper National Park. So much wildlife there, and less people than Banff. Have a great time though, I would love to get back to Canada one day, especially Alberta and British Columbia.

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