Five amazing things to do whilst checking out Calgary
Calgary is one of those cities which is worth a pit stop on any backpacking adventure or a road trip across this vast country and I was fortunate to come during the Stampede. As far from sightseeing there is not much to do but I still recommend people to come and visit this city.
Located in between the Prairies (the flat lands to the east) and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (to the west), Calgary is a modern day city with lots of skyscrapers in the centre which can be seen for miles, I love the vibe and the atmosphere of this city and the locals around here are just dam right so friendly! So here’s the lowdown on what to see and do in Calgary and the surrounding area.
Calgary Tower – The main sight is the tower which is the city’s third tallest structure and to be honest the first thing I noticed was how dam quick those elevators are, sixty-two seconds from bottom to top and didn’t I feel it. The tower is 191 meters high (621ft) and the view from the top is amazing. I could see the flat lands and some oil fields in the far distance to the east but not quite clear enough to see the Rockies. However overlooking the buildings and other structures, this is the best place to be. Also at the top there are two restaurants but it’s not for budget travelers.
Stampede Park – The park can be visited all year round but I came during the famous Calgary Stampede, a ten day festival which is held every July. If coming to the city for this event make sure you book up the tickets and accommodation in advance. Not only spectators get to see men and woman getting bounced up and down or thrown off the saddle, there are also wagon races, bull riding, cow tackling and calf roping. Outside the arena it can be like Disneyworld with fair rides and lots of junk food stands and restaurants. I was trying to get healthy when I was in Calgary but I have to admit I felt quick sick to see what food was on offer and how people could eat that amount of calories!
Day Trips from Calgary
I didn’t get too see much of the sights in the city on my short stopover but there is the Heritage Park and the Olympic Park worth checking out, however, if there is a tour or visitors have a car I do recommend going for a day trip to nearby Drumheller, about a one hour drive.
The Hoodoos – In the area known as the Badlands on the outskirts of Drumheller there are some crazy shaped rock-formations, some of which stand up to twenty feet tall. Legend has it that the rocks are petrified giants who come alive when the sun sets to protect the land around them, they throw stones at anyone who intrudes.
Made from soft sandstone and made over the years by erosion as the area was battered by wind and water at some point, these rocks are a great place to walk around and if climbing them, just be carefully, it can be slippery in places.
Between the Hoodoos and Drumheller – a place worth stopping off is to see the Star Mine Suspension Bridge which is 117 meters long and crosses the Red Deer River. Standing here since the 1930s as it was built for coal workers at the nearby Star Mine until it closed down, now the bridge stands here to commemorate part of the colouring mining history of the Drumheller Valley. Well, the wooden bridge seems to be well maintained but I loved climbing up to the huge rocks to get a better view of the valley.
In Drumheller itself there is the huge Royal Tyrrell Museum to check out (which was closed when I came) and is the only museum in Canada devoted to 4.5 billion years worth of our planet’s history which includes fossil and dinosaur displays. Nearby there is the world’s tallest dinosaur (yes there is one here) and all around the town small dinosaurs are plotted around the streets. Who can spot every single one?
Another day trip (or a couple of day trips or get on with a tour company) – check out places like Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise in the Rockies to the west. Check out my blog post on the Ultimate Banff & Banff National Park Experience here.