Expedia.ca asked me to share my tips and advice for a snowshoeing adventure in Alberta.
Is there anything more beautiful than freshly fallen snow sparkling in the sunshine? In Alberta, Canada, some would say this is the most beautiful sight you can see during the frigid winter. The pillow-like mounds of snow gracefully cover the landscape, creating a spectacular winter wonderland.
Most locals can’t wait to pack their car with all their winter gear and spend their weekends in Banff National Park. There is something satisfying about rising early and walking out into the cold crisp air while dressed in perfectly organized layers of clothing. Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular activities during the winter in Alberta, but there is peace and solitude in snowshoeing that should not be overlooked. Snowshoeing is a cheaper way to experience winter while avoiding the crowded ski hills. There is calmness and comfort that comes from walking through a silent white escape.
The beauty of wintertime in the mountains is not to be missed. You can find many marked trails located near Banff as well as in Kananaskis Country. A short commute will get you to a number of trails that will gift you with the beauty of the Rockies.
Before going out into the wilderness, check the Parks Canada avalanche warning for the area you intent to be in. It’s very important to know how safe your intended trail is on any given day during the winter.
To make your time outside in the cold more enjoyable, follow these simple tips:
- Dress in layers. Winter in Canada can get cold. Your base layer is your wicking layer. Quick drying synthetic fabrics work best. The goal is to wick away moisture from sweat. Your second layer is your insulator, think fleece, down or wool fabrics. Your outer layer is your shell; ideally you want windproof, waterproof and breathable.
- Toque (hat), scarf, mittens/gloves. Keep in mind that mittens/gloves work best if they are water resistant and not knitted fabric.
- Wool or synthetic fabric socks.
- Waterproof, ankle covering hiking boots.
- Hiking pants.
- Knee-high gaiters. If you don’t have these, tie or tape the bottom of your pants to your boots, this will prevent snow from getting inside them.
- Day pack for snacks/lunch, first aid kit, compass and whistle.
- Water. Hydration systems that fit into your backpack work the best as they don’t freeze as quickly. You could also put warm water (or tea) in a thermos which is a nice way to warm up when you start to feel cold.
- Take your cell phone and know the local emergency numbers.
You’ve picked a trail, checked the avalanche warnings and you have the right type of clothing! The only things you’re missing are the snowshoes! You’re in luck, there are great places in Calgary, Canmore and Banff to buy or rent snowshoes.
- MEC (Calgary)
- University of Calgary Outdoor Center
- Gear Up Mountain Sport and Rentals (Canmore)
- Banff Adventures
- MEC (Calgary)
- Atmosphere (Calgary and Banff)
- Costco (Calgary, with a membership)
- Monod Sports (Banff)
Now you’re ready to brave the cold and play in the glistening sunshine and sparkling snow! Enjoy the crisp freshness with each breath in, it’s magical.
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I loved my time living in Alberta, and I hope to someday take my kids there. It’s amazing how empty you feel when you leave those beautiful mountains. Fantastic post and amazing pictures Jill!
Well I am going to have to tell Shane that we are doing this when we go back home this holiday season. I am amazed on how much I miss snow since moving down to Texas. I found that flat and warm are not my thing, I prefer cold and mountainous. Great read and great tips for people who are new to this environment.
These photos are spectacular! I loved your post and now I need to go to Alberta!
You have described a winter fairyland. The picture was further emphasized by the amazing photos and useful tips! Thanks!
I would really love to experience a white Christmas one year, and Alberta sounds wonderful for this! Awesome tip on packing based on the idea of layers – I’ve heard from many friends that this is a must when in Canada during winter! Even though I’m not a super huge fan of the cold, you can’t turn down a trip to a place with such beauty! Your photos are stunning, I hope I have the chance to witness it soon – let’s aim for winter 2016!
OMG! This is SOO beautiful! Living in Germany now, I just LOVE being so close to the Alps bc they are just so stunning in the winter. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I move back to Nebraska….land of the flat and nothing! Having beautiful snow peaks like this make cold, frigid winters so much more bearable!
We are currently exploring the US and Canada and have the layering down quite well. A would enjoy a snowshoeing adventure in Alberta, and think it would be quite the workout.
Wow, your photo’s are so impressive! I’ve never tried snowshoeing, but this sure makes me want to! We were only in Banff once and it happened to be during a huge forest fire. There was so much smoke you couldn’t see the mountains at all. After seeing your photo’s I really wish we could have.
Ohh, I love Banff and the Canadian Rockies! I was there in summer, but I’m a huge fan of winter and your photos are gorgeous! I must make it up there again in winter. I love to ski but would absolutely love to give snowshoeing a try! Thanks for sharing.
It’s so wonderful! I love mountains, and moreover, everything covered by snow looks like from a fairy tale! 🙂
I still have Alberta in my plans, hopefully, one day…
You’re right! There’s nothing better than a day with fresh snow and sunshine. I love the mountains covered in white. I’ve never had the chance to do snowshoeing but it looks like an amazing way to explore.
I really need to visit Canada!
Great photos. It should maybe be noted that ******* is in high avalanche territory. I hope you (or the model) had full gear on you in that photo above. Nobody should be up there in winter without a transceiver, shovel, etc. (and knowledge to use them.) Sorry, just paranoid and would hate to see others heading out there in winter with a light day pack and no avalanche gear.
I’ve never been snowshoeing before but I’ve always wanted to! Looks like the perfect spot to try it out. I’ve been here a few times but always spend my time skiing. Really need to plan at least a day for this. Looks like such a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of the snow-covered mountains!
Alberta is a perfect place for white Christmas getaway. … I’ve been wanting to visit this place but during summer time to enjoy hiking and camping
For someone who has been living in the warmth for a while now this is a great reminder of what matters when it is freezing!
Your photos of the snow are absolutely pretty and are making me want to leave the sand and sunshine!
OMG your photos are amazing! What a beautiful place!
Spectacular photos! How did you do it? Photos like these will be a magnet for any place!
Great cold weather and snow tips!! I am used to warm climates so I would have no idea how to prepare myself for Alberta in the winter, which is a bit discouraging. It’s beautiful and I’d love to go one day so I’ll be pinning this for future reference!
Beautiful photos! Added to my Pinterest board for Canada. I can’t wait for snow here in NH- not much yet!