We have a secret. As winter wonderland begins to melt in the Alberta Rockies, shoulders slump at the prospect of a distant spring. The long standing myth that little is to be done in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the shoulder season swirls like tumbleweed in a windstorm.
The truth is spring is one of best times to visit Alberta’s mountain playground. With snow hanging on far longer than many realize, winter activities can last well into May. At the same time the Rockies come alive with adventure, festivals, arts, culture and wildlife.
Best of all this is typically the quietest time of the year to visit the Alberta Rockies. Imagine all those magnificent views without the crowds. Did we mention Canadian National Parks are free in 2017?
It will be our little secret.
101 Reasons to Visit the Alberta Rockies in Spring
Alberta Rockies Festivals and Events
Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity – 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff, Alberta. Presenting music, theatre, dance and speakers year round. Event schedule can be found here.
Banff Children’s Festival – May long weekend – Free events including art, comedy, theater and dance at the Banff Centre. Event information can be found here.
Banff Yoga Festival – May 26 – 28, 2017 – Weekend of outdoor activities, speakers, classes and yoga. Event information can be found here.
Bruno Engler Memorial Race on Mount Norquay – Longest consecutively running annual ski race in Canada. For more information on this early March event go here.
Canmore Uncorked – May 3 – May 14, 2017 – A 12 day, multiple award winning food and drink festival celebrating the dining experiences offered in Canmore Alberta. Event information can be found here.
Cardboard Box Downhill Derby – Build your fastest sled with cardboard, string, tape and glue. Race to be the winner at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Click here for event information.
Go Wild – Elk + Avenue Hotel 333 Banff Ave, Fireside Lounge, Banff, Alberta. Saturdays 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm. Join a local interpretive guide for this fun for all ages, interactive look at wildlife of the Alberta Rocky mountains.
Jasper Pride – LGBTQ celebration March 9 – 12, 2017 in Jasper, Alberta. Wide range of festivities and adventures in the Rockies. Events can be found here.
Shake the Lake – Lake Louise Ski Resort – One of the area’s biggest parties of the year. When the sun goes down the adult only party Shake the Lake begins.
Spring Concert Series Sunshine Village – Live performances from local bands take place every weekend until late May on Trapper’s patio. Free for all on hill guests.
Sunshine Grind – Fat Bike Race – A fat bike hill climb from the base of the Sunshine Village Gondola to Mad Trapper’s Grill & BBQ on the ski out run. More information can be found here.
Skiing, Snowboarding and Tubing
Canmore Nordic Centre – Minutes from downtown Canmore, the centre offers cross country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, tobogganing and fat biking in winter. Open until early April weather dependent. Hiking, mountain biking, trail running and disc golf available year round. Locations and further information here.
Lake Louise Ski Resort – One of North America’s biggest ski resorts with 145 named ski runs and tube park. Open until early May weather dependent. Location and hours of operation here.
Nakiska Ski Resort – Closest ski resort to Calgary and a short drive from Canmore. Open to mid April weather dependent. Tube park open on weekends only. More information on Nakiska can be found here.
Adventure and Sightseeing in the Alberta Rockies
Banff Adventures – 211 Bear Street, Bison Courtyard, Banff, Alberta. All seasons service providing guided activities and adventures in Banff National Park.
Banff Gondola – At the base of Sulphur Mountain and at the end of Mountain Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Ride the completely rebuilt gondola to an observation deck providing a 360 degree view of six mountain ranges.
Banff Trail Riders – Warner Stables, Sundance Road, Banff, Alberta. Explore Banff National Park on horseback with experienced guides. Trail rides begin mid April weather permitting. In winter, sleigh rides are available until mid March.
Canadian Rockies Adventure Centre – Unit A 909 Railway Avenue, Canmore, Alberta. Providing year round tours throughout the Rockies from sightseeing to adventure.
Canmore Cave Tours – 129 Bow Meadows Crescent, Canmore, Alberta. No matter the season, get your adventure fix underground. A natural history tour of how animals and humans used Rat’s Next Cave far below Grotto Mountain.
Canmore Quad Tours – Explore the Alberta Rockies by ATV. Year round tours available. Booking information can be found here.
Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure – Open mid April to mid October. The icefield and glacier lie alongside the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), between Lake Louise and Jasper. Check in at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. Ride onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier in the all-terrain ice vehicle.
Columbia Icefield Glacier Skywalk – Open mid April to mid October. Check in at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre as above. Step onto the clear glass-floored observation deck 280m above the mountain valley below.
Discover Banff Tours – Sundance Mall, 215 Banff Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Specializing in small group adventure tours including skiing, snowshoeing, ice walks, dog sledding and more.
Grizzly Paw Brewery Tour – 310 Old Canmore Road, Canmore, Alberta. Visit the 20,000 square foot craft brewery for a 45 – 60 minute tour. Beer and soda samples offered. Schedule: Wednesday 2:00 pm, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, and 4:00 pm. Booking ahead is recommended.
Jasper Sidecar Tours – 610 Patricia Street, Jasper, Alberta. Open April to October. Ride through the Rockies with a professional driver. Designated a Signature Canadian experience.
Jasper Sky Tram – Open late March to late October. Ride a fully enclosed tram with a knowledgeable guide. Take in the 360 degree view of Jasper National Park. Directions and pick up locations can be found here.
Kananaskis Outfitters – 1 Mt. Sparrowhawk Crescent, Kananaskis, Alberta. Located next to the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis. Multiple tours including fat biking and fondue while stargazing.
Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola – Open winter and summer take the gondola at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Closed for a short period in May between seasons. More information can be found here.
Mahikan Trails – 82 Grotto Way, Canmore, Alberta. Medicine walk exploring the Rocky Mountains through the perspective of Aboriginal culture and history.
Maligne Adventures – 632 Connaught Drive, Jasper, Alberta. Walk an ice canyon or seek out winter wildlife. Tours available until mid April. Summer adventure tours begin in May.
Mountain Adventure Program Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – The legacy of Swiss mountain guides lives on in Lake Louise. The Mountain Adventure program runs winter and summer, and includes special programs for children.
Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift – One of Banff’s best kept secrets. Ride the chairlift to the Cliffhouse Bistro for one of the most stunning views in Banff National Park. Note the chairlift is closed from mid April until early June. This is also the starting point of the Via Ferrata which opens in early June. More information on both can be found here.
Rocky Mountaineer Train – All aboard for the train ride of a lifetime through the Canadian Rockies. Running April to October. Information on departure locations can be found here.
Yamnuska Mountain Adventures – Suite 200 Summit Centre 50 Lincoln Park
Canmore, Alberta. Classes from beginner to expert in mountaineering, climbing and skiing.
Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary – 263156 Range Road 53, on the 1A highway. Tours to raise awareness on wolf conservation. Guided interactive tours run Thursday-Monday at 10:30am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, and 3:30pm and must be booked in advance. Sanctuary walks are offered Thursday – Monday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm and do not require a reservation.
White Mountain Adventures – 131 Eagle Crescent, Banff, Alberta. Offering ice walking and snowshoe tours till early April. Hiking tours begin early June.
Dog Sled Tours and Ski-Jöring
Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding – Providing Jasper and the Mt. Robson Valley dog sledding since 1998. Located 120km from Jasper. Location and booking information can be found here.
Howling Dog Tours – #105, 712 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore, Alberta. All inclusive packages include pick ups in both Banff and Canmore.
Kingmik Dog Sled Tours – 16430 Highway 1A Lake Louise, Alberta. The only dog sled company to offer tours within Banff National Park.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen Sled Dogs Expeditions – Operating from two locations #120 1stAve, Dead Man’s Flats, Alberta and Boundary Ranch Kananaskis. Specializing in small groups and a hands on approach to traditional dog sledding.
Ski Jorring – Combining skiing with dog sledding, ski jorring was introduced as a demonstration sport at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Originating in Scandinavia, the sport is ideal for the Alberta Rocky Mountains. Tours available through Mad Dogs and Englishmen Sled Dogs Expeditions.
Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours – #109 – 829 10 Street Canmore, Alberta. Sit back and breathe in the spring mountain air or have the ultimate experience of driving your own dog team.
SAVE THIS ARTICLE TO YOUR PINTEREST BOARDS
Helicopter Tours in the Rocky Mountains
Alpine Helicopters Inc. – 91 Bow Valley Trail Canmore, Alberta. Take off from the base of the famous Three Sisters Peaks and next to Banff National Park.
Canadian Mountain Holidays – 217 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta. Heli-skiing tours including multi day available until mid April in the Rocky Mountains. Heli-hiking tours begin in July.
Mountain View Helicopters – Located at the Springbank Airport outside of Calgary. Tours include Kananaskis or an ultimate trip over Mt. Assiniboine.
Rockies Heli Canada – Kananaskis base open year round – Located at the intersection of Highway #40 and Highway #1. Superb views of the Canadian Rocky mountains with tours that include snowshoeing or dog sledding weather permitting. The Icefields base serving Lake Louise and Jasper opens May – October.
Alberta Rockies Hot Springs
Banff Upper Hot Springs – Open year round. Historic spa and bath house with natural hot springs discovered in 1884. Directions can be found here.
Miette Hot Springs – Open May to October. Located 60 km east of Jasper town site. Directions can be found here.
Museums and Art Galleries in the Alberta Rocky Mountains
Banff Museums and Art Galleries
About Canada Gallery and Gift Store – 105 Banff Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Canadian made artwork from paintings to jewelry to metal sculpture.
All In The Wild Gallery – 105 Banff Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Stunning nature and wildlife photography from Canadian photographer Jason Leo Bantle.
Banff Park Museum – 91 Banff Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Western Canada’s oldest natural history museum and a Canadian historic site. Open year round. Prior to May 15 Saturday and Sunday only.
Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum – 1 Birch Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Explore the heritage of the First Nations People of the Canadian Rockies.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site – 311 Cave Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Learn of the discovery of the hot springs and the formation of Canada’s first national park.
Canada House Art Gallery – 201 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta. A diverse collection of Canadian contemporary art.
Canadian Ski West Museum – Throughout Cascade Shops, 317 Banff Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Displays of Banff’s ski history from Swiss mountain guides to resort development.
Heritage Hall – Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, 405 Spray Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Reflects the role the iconic hotel has played in the history of Banff.
Luxton Home Museum – 206 Beaver Street, Banff, Alberta. Open weekly 11am-3pm, Friday/Saturday/Sunday. A look at Banff over the decades.
Mountain Galleries Fairmont Banff Springs – 405 Spray Avenue, Banff, Alberta. Mountain themed painting, photography and sculpture within the iconic Banff Springs Hotel.
Walter Phillips Gallery – Banff Centre – 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff, Alberta. Located in Glyde Hall and known for Canadian and international exhibitions of contemporary culture. Open Wednesday – Sunday 12:30 – 5:00 pm.
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies – 111 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta. Promoting art, nature, history and culture of the Canadian Rockies.
Willock & Sax Gallery – 210 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta. Focusing on local and Canadian artists with exhibitions changing throughout the year.
Canmore Museums and Art Galleries
Ammonite Factory Tour – 100-1350 Railway Avenue, Canmore, Alberta. Learn about the manufacturing and mining process of this vibrant red, green, blue and purple gem. Interpretive tour times Monday to Saturday 10:30 am and 12:00 pm.
Arty Farty -#1-702 Main Street, Canmore, Alberta. Displaying works of permanent artist and owner Libby inspired by the surrounding Alberta Rocky Mountains.
Avens Gallery – 101 – 710 Main Street, Canmore, Alberta. Displaying Western Canadian art for over thirty years.
Barb Fyvie Studio – 336-105 Bow Meadows Crescent, Canmore, Alberta. Works in oil, mixed media and multimedia.
Canmore Museum and Geoscience Center – 902B 7th Avenue, Canmore Alberta. Canmore’s of railway and coal mining history is preserved in exhibits and interactive programs. Open Monday to Friday 12:00 pm -4:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.
Canmore Art Guild – 700 Railway Avenue, Canmore, Alberta. Located inside the Elevation Place building next to the library. Providing space for local artists in Canmore and area.
Carter-Ryan Gallery – #101 – 710 Main Street, Canmore, Alberta. Currently featuring aboriginal soapstone carvings and paintings. Open Thursday to Monday. Open 7 days a week beginning mid May.
Designs by Shelley – 608 Spring Creek Drive, Canmore, Alberta. Specializing in interior design and decor, as well as handmade pillows and children’s clothing. By appointment only.
Edge Gallery – 612 Spring Creek Drive, Canmore Alberta. Dedicated to featuring regional artists and art in a variety of mediums.
Elevation Gallery – #100 – 709 Main Street, Canmore, Alberta. Collection of fine art and fine jewellery. Open daily 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. Closed Monday.
Fallen Leaf Gallery – 102 – 822 Main Street, Canmore, Alberta, Representing emerging and established artists in a side variety of mediums.
Fireweed Glass Studio – #8 – 111 Bow Meadows Cres. Canmore, Alberta. A working glass blowing studio with gallery. Open 11:00 am – 4:00 pm daily. To watch glass blowing call ahead to confirm schedule.
The Hive Gallery and Gathering Place – #200 – 729 Main Street, Canmore, Alberta. A gathering space and events venue within a fine art gallery. Open 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Kari Woo Contemporary Art Jewellery – #252 – 105 Bow Meadows Crescent, Canmore, Alberta. Jewellery designed as meaningful objects for every day life. By appointment only.
Kinsella Art Studio Gallery – #3, 1302 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore, Alberta. Paintings by resident artist Marilyn Kinsella featuring the landscape and nature of the Rockies.
Northwest Mounted Police Barracks – 609 Main Street, Canmore, Alberta. This historic site contains furnishings and artifacts date back to the construction of the barracks in 1892. Open Friday to Monday 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
Of Cabbages and Kings – 129 Bow Meadows Crescent, Canmore, Alberta. Professional pottery studio with two generations of potters. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to noon and 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm or by appointment.
Rudi Peet Goldsmith – #10 -102 Bow Meadows Crescent, Canmore, Alberta. Specializing in innovative and custom made jewellery. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Silver Tree Studio – #104-729 Main Street, Canmore, Alberta. A collaboration of clothing and art of local artisans.
Studio 604 Art Studio and Gallery – 604 Spring Creek Drive, Canmore, Alberta. A working art studio and art gallery of resident artist Pat Sullivan. Open Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Sunny Raven Gallery – #156, 105 Bow Meadows Cres., Canmore, Alberta. Featuring artwork form local Banff and Canmore artists, handmade artist books and antique postcards. Closed Sunday and Monday
Tony Bloom Stonecrop Studios – 129 Bow Meadows Crescent, Canmore, Alberta. Working primarily in steel, copper bronze and aluminum sculptor Tony Bloom, creates sculptures from hand held to monumental sized.
Three Sisters Gallery – 700 Railway Avenue, Canmore, Alberta. Located on the second level of Elevation Place. A diverse mix of art from Canmore artists and area. Open Monday to Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.
Virginia Ann Hemingson Art Gallery – 517 Spring Creek Drive, Spring Creek Mountain Village, Canmore, Alberta. Featuring a wide variety of mountain themed artwork of Virginia Ann Hemingson. Open 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm daily.
Jasper Museums and Art Galleries
Den Wildlife Museum – Whistler’s Inn 105 Miette Avenue, Jasper, Alberta. Over 100 species of indigenous wildlife displayed. Stop at the hotel front desk for admission.
Jasper Public Library & Art Gallery – 500 Robson Street, Jasper, Alberta. Two story modern gallery featuring art by artists of the Jasper Art Guild. Hours Thursday – Sunday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Jasper Yellowhead Museum & Archives – 400 Pyramid Lake Road, Jasper, Alberta. Displays and artifacts reflecting the history of Jasper National Park and the Yellowhead corridor. Winter hours October – May 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Thursday – Sunday. Summer hours June – September 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Mountain Galleries Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge – 400 Bonhomme Street, Jasper, Alberta. Mountain themed painting, photography and sculpture within the iconic Jasper Park Lodge Hotel.
Our Native Land – 601 Patricia Street, Jasper, Alberta. Featuring hand crafted indigenous art pieces.
Recreation Centers in the Alberta Rocky Mountains
Canmore Recreation Centre – 1900 8 Ave, Canmore, Alberta. Two indoor NHL sized arenas provide access for hockey, shinny and public skating. More information and hours of operation can be found here.
Elevation Place – 700 Railway Avenue, Canmore, Alberta. Canmore’s indoor playground with something for everyone. The facility includes an aquatics centre, indoor climbing gym, fitness facility, community library, art gallery and community gathering spaces. Hours of operation can be found here.
Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre – 100 Norquay Road, Banff, Alberta. Indoor public skating, hockey and curling and the Banff Sports Hall of Fame. More information and hours of operation can be found here.
Jasper Activity Centre and Arena – 305 Bonhomme Street, Jasper, Alberta. Squash and raquetball courts with equipment rentals available. Public skating time available. More information and hours of operation can be found here.
Jasper Fitness and Aquatic Centre – 305 Bonhomme Street, Jasper, Alberta. The renovated complex includes a 25m pool, water slide, wading pool, fitness gym and climbing wall. More information and hours of operation can be found here.
Lake Louise Sport and Recreation Centre – 103 Village Road, Lake Louise, Alberta. The facility includes an outdoor ice skating rink, basketball court, tennis courts, skate boarding area, baseball diamonds and playground.
Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre – 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff, Alberta. The facility includes a fitness area, spin cycling room, climbing gym and an aquatics centre. More information and hours of operation can be found here.
Looking forward to seeing you in the Alberta Rockies. What activity would you like to start with?
INSPIRED TO VISIT RED DEER? PIN THESE TO YOUR PINTEREST TRAVEL BOARDS
We have partnered with Travel Alberta to bring you this article.
Readers suggestions of activities to do in the Alberta Rockies
Thanks to Kris for his suggestion of fly fishing. Although fly fishing can be seen along the Bow River most of the year, in the Rockies guides recommend June to September as the best season. We suggest contacting a fishing guide for more information and license requirements.
Kris also suggests the 7 km hike to the Canyon Creek ice caves in Kananaskis. More information can be found here.