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Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Calgary, Alberta

By touring - Posted on 12 October 2011

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Calgary, Alberta

Alberta’s newest park is a hit right from the start. Recently opened in August 2011, the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park has over 1300 hectares of rolling hills and river flatlands on the banks of the Bow River. Over 25 kilometers of walking and biking trails weave through this park in Southern Alberta.

The gentle hills between Calgary and Cochrane, Alberta would have made for an excellent upscale subdivision, but instead, this former family farm has been preserved in its near natural state for generations to come.

"It’s easy to see that this park is going to become a scenic jewel in the provincial park system," says Greg Lynch, an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast with Scenic Travel Canada. "With such amazing views, great facilities and being so close to the city, who wouldn’t enjoy a day out the park?"

Walking trails in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Parks in Calgary, Cochrane, Alberta
Over 25 km of walking & biking trails to discover on the banks of the Bow River.

The natural reserve doubles as a working ranch with hundreds of cattle and horses roaming the native grasslands. The park setting is in the foothills of Alberta but the terrain and native plants is of rare fescue grasslands, similar to Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.

Looking eastward, visitors will see the modern downtown skyline and Canada Olympic Park in the distance. To the west, the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains frame the horizon, as shown in the photo. The valley bottom is divided by the calm, flowing waters of the Bow River.

There are plenty of paved walking paths and packed-gravel trails that extend to all corners of the park. Some trails lead to viewpoints on hill tops to offer better views of the river valley (no bikes allowed) while others lead to some historic sights within the park. Eventually, the extensive trail system will connect to the urban cycling paths of Calgary and Cochrane.

The CPR mainline runs through the park and the gentle train echoing in the valley brings back childhood memories of the railway. Train lovers of all ages have a grand opportunity to see trains close up.

Interpretive signs shows how the land has been shaped by the ancient glaciers and how the geography has remained the same since humans have lived in the area.

During dawn and dusk, this natural corridor is used by badgers, weasels, coyotes, deer, elk and cougars.

Tips when Visiting Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

  • You are responsible to climb up every hill you venture down.
  • Bring lots of water.
  • This is a big park, almost as large as Fish Creek Provincial Park, and the best way to cover the distance is on a bicycle.
  • The westerly winds can be strong at times. The hotsun bakes the area in summer and fall. Dress appropriately for changing weather conditions.
  • Trail maps of Glenbow Ranch Park are well placed along the trails so it’s hard to get lost.
  • Keep an eye on kids or they might get lost in the deep coulees and ravines.
  • Park services include washrooms, kiosks and picnic tables. Camping is not allowed nor are fires.
  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed. Please clean up after them.
  • For park tours and programs, the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation (1-403-398-3763).

View Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park in a larger map

Getting to the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park (403-851-9053) is via Highway 1A at the end of Glenbow Road (south). Access will improve when the highway twinning construction is complete.

Check out other things to do in Banff & Kananaskis on your Canadian Holiday.

Get more insider tips on Canadian Adventures at Scenic Travel Canada.

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