Kananaskis Country, established by the Alberta government in 1977, is just 90 kilometers (56 miles) southwest of Calgary. The Park encompasses over 5,000 square kilometers (2,600 square miles) of land, three provincial parks and some of Canada’s most spectacular rolling terrain.
The name was first given, by 1858 explorer John Palliser, to the pass over the continental divide, in honour of a Cree amed Kineahkis who is said to have recovered from a blow to the head. Since then the name is given to a lake, a set of falls, a mountain range, an alpine village and a provincial park.
The word “Kananaskis” comes from an Indian word that means either “meeting of the waters” or “man with tomahawk in head”. To get to “K-Country”, as locals call it, take the Seebe exit from the Transportation-Canada Highway (1) and then follow Highway 40 south.
Kananaskis has something to satisfy almost every outdoor interest. In addition to recreation, the land also mixes livestock, forestry, and petroleum production to show that such activities can co-exist with provincial parks, wildlife sanctuaries, recreation facilities and natural areas.
Kananaskis Country includes the following attractions (from north to south):
Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino
888 Nakoda Way, Kananaskis, AB T0L 1N0
(on Highway 40, just south of Trans-Canada Highway)
Mail Address: PO Box 1500 Morley, AB T0L 1N0, Canada
Las Vegas-style gaming just 35 minutes west of Calgary at Alberta’s only casino in the Rocky Mountains. From more than 250 of your favorite slot machines to a range of table games, a poker room, and off-track betting. Also fine dining and 92 guest rooms and 18 suites with stunning views of the sunrise or surrounding Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Cowley’s Rafter Six Guest Ranch
First right, heading south on Highway 40
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 100 Exshaw, AB Canada T0L 2C0
This ranch offers visitors a full ranching experience. It has a three-storey lodge with guest rooms, individual chalets, a dining room and lounge and conference facilities. Activities include barbecues, riding, rafting and camping.
12 km south of Trans-Canada Highway
This small lake is just off Highway 40, right inside the park entrance. It was created by damming the Kananaskis River, and is a popular spot for boating and fishing. This has great views of the park, and is a starting point for kayakers and canoeists on the Kananaskis River
Nakiska Ski Area
2 Mt Allan Dr, Kananaskis, AB T0L 2H0
25 km south of Trans-Canada Highway
Nakiska was host of the downhill skiing events in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. Nakiska receives 250 cm of snowfall (nine feet) per year, with a ski season from December to April. The vertical drop is 750 m 2,460 ft, serviced by five lifts capable of handling 8,620 skiers per hour.
41 km south of Trans-Canada Highway
This is the focal point of Kananaskis Country, with three hotels, two 18-hole golf courses and plenty of shopping. There are lots of nice hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing trails accessible from the village. For shopping, dining and accommodation in the Kananaskis, visit the Kananaskis Village.
This mountain is home to Nakiska, host of the downhill skiing events in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. The very top of the Olympic downhill run is not served by lifts anymore, but there are plenty of challenging runs left. From the top of Mt Allan (elevation 9,462 feet or 2,886 metres) you can see the Canadian Rockies’s skyscrapers, 50 miles away.
This is the spectacular ice-covered mountain to the southeast of the Kananaskis Village. It is 9, 108 feet 2, 778 metres high.
KPOW! Cat Skiing at Fortress Mountain
48 km south of Trans-Canada Highway
Fortress has a vertical drop of 330 m or 1,082 ft that is now services by a cat skiing operation. Fortress is at a higher elevation than Nakiska and receives 508 cm or 14 ft of snow each winter. Fortress used to be a ski report with chairlifts, and has been used as a set for several movies.
This mountain is just south of Fortress Mountain Ski Area, and on the east side of the highway, at 10, 150 feet or 3, 093 metres, is the second highest peak in Kananaskis Country.
This pass, just south of Kananaskis Lake, which takes Highway 40 from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park down the slopes of the foothills, has an elevation of 7,233 feet or 2,206 metres, and is higher than any of the Highway passes across the Continental Divide. (This portion of the road is closed during winter months, and is great for cycling when the road is snow-free from early May up to mid-June, when it re-opens for car traffic)