Five Winter Adventures That Don't Involve Skis

Author: Mike Fisher

Mike is an award-winning, Calgary-based writer who loves dogs, leaps before he looks, rides bulls in china shops and always finds a bird in the hand startling. He loves writing about Alberta because it offers breathless moments around every corner.


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Johnston Canyon / Discover Banff Tours

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Enjoy Inspiring Views at Johnston Canyon Icewalk  

Johnston Canyon is one of the iconic experiences of Banff National Park, where stunning views of canyon walls give way to even more breathtaking views of its waterfalls. In the winter, the snow and ice give the canyon an even more magical, meditative quality. From the trailhead, it’s an easy hike through snow to a trail where safe steel walkways offer great views of the rock wall and the blue sheets of ice hanging from frozen waterfalls. This is prime selfie country. If you book a trip with Discover Banff Tours, you will be outfitted with cleats for your boots and a warm bus ride from the town of Banff 30 minutes away.  


Olympic-Style Bobsleigh is Thrill-a-Minute 

Alberta has a rich Olympic history, given that Calgary hosted the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. At Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park, regular folk like you and me can get a taste of what it’s like to be an Olympian with its bobsleigh experiences, a 60-second rush that will get your heart pumping at speeds reaching 100 km/hr. Squeeze into the four-person bobsleigh driven by an experienced pilot to do 14 twists on the track. If you want to go solo, try the luge track, which is also a blast. If you’re looking to brag, either experience gives you mad rights. Book ahead at Winsport Canada before you go.  


Skate Away at Hawrelak Park  

Skating at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton has been a tradition for years, drawing all ages to one of the most well-known stretches of recreational ice in Alberta. If you’re in the mood for a laid-back feel in a cozy atmosphere, this is as soft as adventure gets. But if you come during the heart of winter, you’ll get an added bonus at the park -- the crazily lit Ice Castles exhibit. Formed by flowing water that freezes over a base build with hundreds of lights, this attraction is beautiful and unique. Book a ticket for the Ice Castle before you go. For even more fun in the park, plan your trip around the annual Silver Skate Festival at the park (Feb. 10-20), which has roots deep in Edmonton’s winter traditions.   


Get Your Tube on at Canyon Ski Resort 

Just minutes from Red Deer, you can ride an inflatable tube down an giddily fun course at Canyon Ski Resort at the Snow Tube Park. While many mountain ski resorts now build tube parks, you can also get a great slide here at Alberta’s largest non-mountain resort. Get great views of the foothills while you reach speeds up to 60 km/hr. You get pulled up the hill on your tube by a dedicated lift before careening down the groomed two-lane park. A big snow-making system bolsters the terrain to help keep everyone sliding.  


Fort Chipewyan Opens Up a Northern World  

This adventure leans toward those looking for hard-core, hands-on fun. Try ice fishing and dog sledding with friendly Fort Chipewyan resident and Atim Ostogwan Dogsled Tours operator Robert Grandjambe. He has deep First Nations roots in this remote northern community, which began as a fur trading post in 1788. I got a crash course in traditional gill-net fishing on Lake Athabasca, hauling nets filled with wriggling fish while gusts of wind kicked up puffs of snow. A 20-minute dogsled trip got us there. Part of the journey is getting to Fort Chip from Fort McMurray on the rugged ice road, a 280 km (174 mi) trip. There are 40-minute flights from Edmonton to Fort Mac to begin your adventure.

Activity Highlights
  • Ice Walking
  • Ice Skating
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