24 Hours in Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Valley from one of the viewpoints along the hotel trail.

I’ve been traveling pretty steady for the past few months for work and it’s left me feeling a little exhausted. I’m not complaining, because I love my job and the travel is a great way to see the country and meet new people. Just as life wears on all us when we don’t give ourselves to recharge, so too does business travel.

The stress was catching up with me and physically taking a toll. Because of this, I decided on my recent trip to Alberta to take advantage of the weekend to recharge in the mountains. Our programming for the 4-H AGM ended Saturday afternoon and I hightailed it out of Calgary to Kananaskis for 24 hours of “me time”.

Kananaskis Country is the area you drive through before you get to Banff. It’s essentially where the mountains start and I learned there is little there aside from the Delta resort village, a lot of hiking and Nakiska ski hill. It was perfect!

My goal was to unplug completely. Which turns out, is very hard to do when your phone also is your camera, watch and music. The latter being most important as I planned to hike and being alone (not recommended) the staff suggested I might want to play music so to make more noise. It’s the bears’ active season and there had been several sightings around the resort. So my phone was almost always with me.

My strategy was to keep it on Airplane Mode. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I failed. The scenery was so beautiful around the resort, and it was so easy to snap a pic and share it with whatever thought I felt was appropriately insightful. That’s somewhat the shame of social media. All those observations we have day to day, we release out into the world, no matter how smart or silly they are. I’m sure if doesn’t allow us to properly reflect on what we are experiencing.

Bears are particularly active in spring when they are more hungry after hibernation and have cubs to look after.

That changed on my hike. When you’re hiking in bear country and the hotel staff insist you take bear spray, the temptation to be on your phone is strangely absent. With my music turned as loud it would go, it wasn’t as peaceful as it could’ve been but Blue Rodeo and The Tragically Hip made my morning 10km trek about as Canadiana as one could get.

Before I left, I “plugged in” long enough to let my boyfriend know I was going for a hike and read about what to do if you see a bear (talk firmly to it, back away slowly and keep watching its reaction, without making eye contact). I let the staff know and I was off on what I was advised was a “busy trail”. At 8am it turns out, I was a little early for most hikers but I did run into a group at Trolls Falls, my “destination”.

Trolls Falls
Troll Falls – perhaps named for the small caves and cubbies in the rock next to the falls. Perfect for a troll?

Practicing mindfulness means learning to live in the present, letting go and not letting your mind linger on thoughts about the past or the future. I realized hiking forces you to be mindful, especially if you’re on bear alert. With your senses tuned to every sound, sight and smell, you take in far more of the hiking experience also.

I noticed the distinct difference in the birds’ songs and the smells of the forest and meadow next to Kananaskis River. I saw a chipmunk run from tree to tree, chattering away until it was chasing after another and they went up and down the tree twice before squaring off and going in opposite directions. I even came across a four-leaf clover on the path, which seemed absolutely fitting seeing as I was at a 4-H event all week. When would you ever see a four-leaf clover at your feet?

And I felt a childlike thrill seeing all the beautiful wildflowers. When I was a Girl Guide, I was always hoping to see the flowers we learned about but often we only found Trilliums and maybe the odd Lady’s Slipper. Everything else seemed so rare along the Bruce Trail but in Kananaskis, precious flowers litter the forest floor at every turn.

About My Stay

There could have been no better serenity for me that weekend than being out in nature like that. Truly, I don’t think Banff or Canmore could’ve provided the same experience with such proximity.  You would have to hike or drive out of the town to access similar trails and you may not even be able to go for one night. I heard from a friend this week most Banff hotels require a 2-night stay.

Kananaskis Valley from one of the viewpoints along the hotel trail.

The Delta Kananaskis is about to undergo a massive renovation, so I expect the rooms will be fancier (I opted for the cheaper, no-AC option and didn’t need it luckily) and the whole place ever more pricey in a few years. If you want AC, it’s a $50 upgrade which includes underground parking. With no other options, the restaurants can gouge you here for average food, so I took advantage of their offer when I booked to receive a $50 resort credit for $30.

The staff were all pretty friendly and helpful. At one point, I thought about going golfing but learned the 2013 flood had wiped out both of Kananaskis’ golf courses, so I was glad I’d booked the spa instead. My massage was relaxing, and they were nice enough to discount it since their aesthetician was sick and they couldn’t do the pedicure I had also booked. I took advantage of the time to use their steam room and pools. They are dated and in need of an update, and the hot tub was not hot. Perhaps that’s not such a big deal in June but I was a little disappointed.

All in all, it was a good stay and I would go back again if I need to unwind. I would definitely bring wine and snacks with me again to relax on the balcony and save purchasing too much food at the resort.

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