Visiting Kananaskis with Kids

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Planning on visiting Kananaskis with kids?! Kananaskis, Alberta is the perfect Canadian summer travel destination for families. One of the best things about traveling in Canada with kids is the opportunity to introduce them to Canada’s incredible natural beauty. Kananaskis is an off-the-beaten-path destination that offers jaw-dropping views, plenty of easy hikes that are perfect for families and an amazing hotel with a water park! What more could you want in a Canadian travel destination for kids?!

Our family lived in Calgary for many years and we’ve visited Kananaskis on many occasions, both for day trips from Calgary as well as overnight and weekend adventures. Below I’ll give you all of our best advice for getting to Kananaskis, where to stay in Kananaskis and the best things to do with kids in Kananaskis.

How to Get to Kananaskis with Kids

If you’re planning on visiting Kananaskis with kids and departing from anywhere outside of Alberta, the first thing you’ll need to do is fly into the Calgary International Airport. We live just outside of Toronto and there are numerous flights from Toronto to Calgary every day. Summer can be an expensive time to fly anywhere in Canada. But, if you have the flexibility to travel at other times, you may be able to find deals on flights in late spring or early fall.

Calgary International Airport is approximately 115 km from Kananaskis Village. The drive typically takes about 1 hour 15 minutes, but can take significantly longer on very busy days when there is a lot of traffic. I would highly recommend that families rent a car at the airport and drive themselves out to Kananaskis as this will give you more freedom and flexibility to travel to your chosen hikes and activities in Kananaskis.

After arriving at the Calgary International Airport, you may wish to stay in a nearby hotel for the evening and then drive to Kananaskis the next day. If you’re arriving at night, I would definitely recommend waiting until daylight to do the drive out to Kananaskis so that you can experience the incredible mountain views on your trip. Even though I’ve done the drive from Calgary to Kananaskis many times, I am still awe-struck by the views every time.

Related: The Best Hotels for Kids in Calgary

Related: Walks & Hikes for Little Kids near Calgary

Where to Stay in Kananaskis with Kids

If you’re wondering about the best place to stay with kids in Kananaskis, look no further than the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. This hotel has an indoor water park with a shallow beach style entry that is absolutely perfect for kids of all ages. There is also an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub, children’s creative centre and playground on site. The resort also offers fireside s’mores, movie nights and a games room.

The hotel has family guest rooms including two bedroom suites that include one king and two queen beds, so they can comfortably accommodate up to 6 people. In my opinion, the Kananaskis Lodge is one of the key things that makes Kananaskis such a great Canadian destination for kids.

Things to Do with Kids in Kananaskis

Visiting Kananaskis with kids is really all about introducing children to the area’s stunning natural beauty. There are many family friend hikes in the area that take kids to waterfalls, along creeks and even across a really cool suspension bridge. In addition to the beautiful waterfalls, creeks and rivers, Kananaskis is home to some stunning turquoise blue lakes. Another amazing activity in the area therefore is to head out on the lakes in a canoe, kayak or SUP. Read on for our recommendations of the best things to do with kids in Kananaskis…

Troll Falls Hike

Troll Falls Hike: One of the best things to do when visiting Kananaskis with Kids

One of the best hikes for kids in Kananaskis is the Troll Falls Hike. The trailhead for the Troll Falls Hike is only a few minutes drive from Kananaskis Village. There is a parking lot at the trailhead, however it can fill up quickly. Plan to arrive early in the morning or later in the evening to ensure that you are able to find parking. The hike to Troll Falls is approximately 3.4 km round trip along a relatively wide and flat trail. Expect to take about 90 minutes (round trip) to complete the hike to Troll Falls with kids. There is also the option to hike an additional 1 km round trip to the Upper Falls.

Blackshale Suspension Bridge

Blackshale Suspension Bridge: One of the best things to do when visiting Kananaskis with Kids

The Blackshale Suspension Bridge is another easy and fun hike for kids in Kananaskis. The suspension bridge is located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. There are two ways to get to the bridge. The official trail is about 6 km round trip and begins at the Black Prince Parking lot. The trail begins across the highway from the parking lot. Expect to take about 2 hours to complete this route with children. The second route to the bridge is much shorter at only 1 km round trip. If you just want to see the bridge without doing the full 6 km hike, you can park south of the Black Prince Parking lot along the shoulder of the highway and access the bridge via a short loop trail.

Canoeing or Kayaking on Barrier Lake

Canoeing on a turquoise blue Canadian lake with the mountains in the background is a quintessential Canadian experience. When visiting Kananaskis with kids, I would highly recommend renting a canoe or kayaks from Kananaskis Outfitters at their satellite location at Barrier Lake. Barrier Lake is a stunning blue lake that is located right beside the highway into Kananaskis. Kananaskis Outfitters rents canoes, kayaks and SUPs at the Barrier Lake Day Use area on a first come first serve basis (they cannot be reserved ahead of time). Or, if you’re brand new to canoeing and would like a guided experience, check out the Kananskis Outfitters tours, like this “Big Boat Tour“.

Swimming at the Kananaskis Lodge Water Park

Water park at Kananaskis Lodge: One of the best things to do when visiting Kananaskis with Kids

Located inside the Kananaskis Lodge is a great indoor water park for kids. The water park includes a shallow beach-style entry, which is perfect for toddlers. There is a shallow splash area and small slide for toddlers as well as three larger slides for bigger kids. There is also a huge indoor/outdoor pool/ hot tub. As far as hotel pools go, this one is one of the best we’ve seen in Canada.

Shop, Eat and Play in Kananaskis Village

Kananaskis village is small but has a number of fun activities for families. There are two gift shops that have some great souvenirs. My kids absolutely love spending time looking through the shops at all of the cool Canadian themed souvenirs. There are several restaurants and cafés in the village as well as opportunities to eat fireside s’mores. There are walking trails around the village and a beautiful flowing creek and pond at the centre of the village. If you’re staying at the Kananaskis Lodge you can also rent sports equipment and enjoy the basketball and tennis courts or play at the playground!

Hire a Babysitter and Visit the Nordic Spa

Ok, this one isn’t for the kids, but grown-ups need some fun too! Babysitting is available at the Kananaskis Lodge and there is a beautiful Nordic Spa attached to the hotel. The spa offers hydrotherapy at its hot and cold pools and saunas. There are also steam and exfoliation cabins. Or you can book a massage or eat at the Two Trees Bistro on site. This is the perfect place for parents to take a little bit of time for themselves while their children are cared for by babysitters at the hotel right beside the spa.

Tips and Tricks for Visiting Kananaskis with Kids

Wilderness Safety in Kananaskis

Kananaskis is a wilderness area. Bears and cougars are in the area and it is not uncommon to see them. Be aware of wildlife safety for children at all times. Stay together as a group and keep kids near to you on trails and even in the village. Carry bear spray at all times and know how to use it. Make sure to make noise while on the trail to let bears know that you are in the area – most bears want nothing to do with people and making noise ensures that you will not accidentally surprise a bear while on the trail. Make sure that you carry the essentials with you on the trail (including water, snacks and a first aid kid) and that someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return. For more wilderness safety tips while in Kananaskis, visit the Kananaskis Outfitters site.

Eating with Kids in Kananaskis

While there are some lovely restaurants, bars and convenience stores in Kananaskis, the options for dining and buying food are limited and can get fairly expensive if you plan to stay in the area for a few days. I would highly recommend pre-purchasing snacks and foods that your children enjoy at a grocery store in Calgary before traveling to Kananaskis. It is always helpful to have snacks in the hotel room in case there is a long wait to get into a restaurant or if you have a picky eater who may not find something that they enjoy eating at the restaurants. The family rooms in the hotel have mini fridges so that you can keep some small items cold during your stay.

If you’re thinking of visiting Kananaskis with kids, my best advice is to just do it. The scenery is absolutely incredible. This is one of few places where families can experience true Canadian wilderness while still enjoying the luxuries of a hotel stay and eating in restaurants at the end of along day of fresh air adventures.

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