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There is no doubt that the glamorous Banff attracts many tourists every year, but this can be off-putting to tourists wanting to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. At Kananaskis Country, there is something for adventure seekers of any level. This destination is located west of Calgary, Alberta, and is Canada’s best-kept secret, featuring iconic mountain peaks, dazzling lakes, and dozens of provincial parks.

Kananaskis is a great alternative for tourists looking to save money while having fun, avoid high-season crowds, or explore new adventures. Here are reasons why Kananaskis is an incredible alternative to Banff.

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Here's Why Kananaskis Is Worth The Visit

Kananaskis was once considered a quick gateway to the popular Banff. But, recently, Kananaskis Country has grown into a sought-after vacation spot, slowly gaining the attention of tourists who want a breath of fresh air regarding adventure. Kananaskis is graced with over 4,000 square kilometers of mountain parks, spectacular lakes, valleys, and foothills, making it a top choice for sightseeing and photography. In addition, a vacation in Kananaskis Country is much cheaper than in Banff, whose hotel rooms can cost above $350 a night during the high season.

Related: Alberta Complete Travel Guide - Things To Do, Activities & Food

Kananaskis can be described as Alberta’s mountain playground, featuring activities such as hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. However, it’s important to note that Kananaskis Country is a variety of destinations under one umbrella term. “K-Country” covers a wide range of Alberta’s parks located on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, such as Spray Valley Provincial Park, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, and Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park.

Kananaskis Country is Canada’s hidden gem. Although the destination may have fewer amenities than the glamorous Banff, tourists in love with the Canadian Rockies’ charm can have equally amazing experiences but with fewer crowds. In addition, national-park restrictions are less stringent in Kananaskis Country than in Banff National Park, meaning the parks permit “alternative use” like traditional ranching. However, visitors still need a pass to access the provincial parks in Kananaskis Country.

Related: Traveling To Alberta In Winter? This Is What To Expect

These Activities Are Worth Trying In Kananaskis

Touring Kananaskis can literally take weeks due to its plethora of attraction sites begging to be explored. Here are fun ways to spend time in Kananaskis Country.

Chill Near Elbow Falls

With heights reaching up to six meters, this waterfall Is a visual and auditory masterpiece that captivates every first-timer. Elbow Falls is a provincial recreational area that offers an outstanding relaxation experience after a long hike, featuring a campground and picnic tables. This spot is located west of Bragg Creek.

Alternatively, visitors can spend time at the nearby Forgetmenot Pond. This spot is ideal for tourists with a family, thanks to scenic picnic sites featuring picnic tables and convenient fire pits in case visitors want to camp. The destination lives up to its name, as tourists keep coming back to enjoy recreational activities, particularly in the summer. This idyllic pond is located near Little Elbow Campground.

  • Months Open: All year Round

Enjoy A Round Of Golf At Kananaskis Country Golf Course

Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, golfers here can experience breathtaking views as they enjoy a round of golf on this government-owned property. Kananaskis Country Golf Course boasts 36 holes and two-course layouts. The golfing destination has undergone a series of renovations since its opening in 1983. The 2013 renovation was the most significant following a devastating flood that damaged the Mt. Lorette and Mt Kidd courses.

Today, Albertan golfers and tourists can enjoy a royalty-like treatment from the friendly staff on the immaculate fairways. A glimpse of wildlife during a golfing session isn’t uncommon.

Hike The Troll Falls

Tucked away in the Canadian Rockies, Troll Falls is a must-visit place for tourists vacationing in Canada. This all-season spot features a small waterfall guarded by a troll-resembling figure emerging from the rocks, hence the name of the hiking trail. The trail is quite short and thus family-friendly, stretching 1.05 miles. Troll Falls boasts adventurous experiences characterized by aspens and wispy lichen hanging from the branches of evergreen trees. Pets are allowed too.

  • Location: Near Lac des Arcs, Alberta
  • Months Open: All Year Round

Stay At These Cool Places In Kananaskis

After a long day’s trip full of adventure, tourists can spend the night at:

  • Kananaskis Mountain Lodge
  • Mount Engadine Lodge

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge has one of the most enviable locations in the Rocky Mountains, making it an excellent spot to rejuvenate in luxury during the winter. This upscale hotel features an on-site restaurant, a waterpark, basketball and tennis courts, and well-furnished rooms. In addition, the resort hosts kid-friendly events called KanananaKIDS, much to the delight of visitors with a family.

  • Location: 1 Continental Drive
  • Check-In/Check-Out: 4:00 PM/ 11:00 AM

Mount Engadine Lodge overlooks a meadow and is surrounded by towering mountains, making it one of the local’s favorite hotels to relax in. The hotel features lodge rooms, cabins, glamping tents, and a yurt as its main accommodation options. In addition, Mount Engadine Lodge boasts a world-class restaurant that severs unique Canadian Cuisine, with weekly menu shifts for a memorable dining experience.

  • Location: Spray River Valley
  • Check-In/Check-Out: 3:00 PM/11:00 AM

Kananaskis Country is unlike anywhere else in Canada. Conveniently located in the valley, this destination boasts easy accessibility, stunning views, and plenty of fun activities. Kananaskis Country is a must-see for tourists who are looking for off-the-beaten-path destinations.