Alberta Cancer Foundation

Top 10 Winter Activities

Yes it’s cold out, but there are plenty of activities to enjoy, even if they require a few extra layers. Embrace active living in all four seasons and you’ll stay fit, both physically and mentally.

  1. NO MOUNTAINS, NO PROBLEM Cross-country skiing, or Nordic skiing, is a great aerobic workout, and less expensive than downhill skiing or snowboarding. There are groomed trails with the city limits in Edmonton and Calgary. The Canmore Nordic Centre and Strathcona Wilderness Centre are also popular spots.
  2. KEEP YOUR FEET MOVING Running and walking in minus-20 temperatures requires the right clothing and the right attitude. Layer clothing to ward off chills and wear running shoes with an aggressive tread. For added motivation, check out The Running Room’s Hypothermic Half Marathons, held in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer (events.runningroom.com).
  3. YOU TUBE Think of it as tobogganing for grownups as you fly down a snow-covered hill in an inflatable tube. Mount Norquay has the only snow tube park in the Banff area (banffnorquay.com/tubing), while Edmonton snow tubers can stay in the city and check out Sunridge Ski Area (sunridgeskiarea.com).
  4. BOOTS WERE MADE FOR HIKING Jasper National Park’s extensive trail network includes many valley-bottom trails that are open year-round. Trail condition reports are available online (atparckscanada.gc.ca/apps/tcond). Local shops sell and rent ice cleats.
  5. A GOOD DOG It’s a winter adventure you won’t soon forget, as a team of sled dogs pulls you across the frozen landscape. Local sled dog tour companies operate in Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.
  6. SHOES FOR SNOW Snowshoeing is another inexpensive way to head outside, while beating the crowds on the ski slopes, no special training required. The University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre offers guided snowshoe tours every weekend.
  7. ICE ICE BABY Check out natural ice sculptures on a guided tour of the Rocky Mountain’s frozen river canyons. Several companies offer ice walk tours of Johnson Canyon in Banff, or Maligne Canyon in Jasper.
  8. LIKE A KID AGAIN Soaring down a snow-covered hill and then climbing back up it is a classic winter activity. Check out toboggan hills in your city (The City of Edmonton posts current hill conditions on its website). Helmets recommended.
  9. PLENTY OF FISH While sitting on a frozen lake waiting a fish might not sound appealing, fans of the sport would argue otherwise. It is a cool experience to see fish coming up to the surface from the deep water, and many companies offer tours to introduce people to ice fishing (with heated shelter, of course).
  10. ALPINE DREAMS No, we haven’t forgotten about downhill skiing and snowboarding. Alberta’s ski hills are among the best in the world. Most resorts offer rentals and lessons (skicentral.com/Alberta).