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The Kananaskis Destination is found in the southern region of Alberta, Canada. Several small towns and cities are found in the region, including Banff, Okotoks, Airdrie, High River, Canmore, Cochrane, and Strathmore, to name a few. The destination’s namesake, Kananaskis, is located in its western region along the Bow River, which also courses through Calgary—the largest city in the province of Alberta. With a 2021 population of 1,306,784 people, Calgary was ranked first in Canada and North America as the most livable city in 2022, ranking third in the world alongside Zürich. Calgary is often referred to as “the stampede city,” on account of the Calgary Stampede—a summer event that takes place annually in the city—and “the cow town,” as the cattle industry was a fairly prominent aspect of Calgary’s culture in the 19th century.[7] The Kananaskis Destination additionally consists of Banff National Park, a considerably popular tourist attraction in its northwestern region. While the national park offers an abundance of outdoor activities, a fair amount of people have enjoyed visiting the area to view the mountainous landscape of the Canadian Rockies. Some of the more active undertakings at Banff National Park are hiking, biking, horseback riding, and rafting or paddling on Lake Louise.[13]

What Calgary is known for

Encompassing a portion of southern Alberta, the Kananaskis Destination comprises a mix of townships, urban districts, and natural landscapes. The namesake of the destination, Kananaskis, is an unincorporated community located along the Bow River just west of Calgary—the most prominent city in the destination.[2] Kananaskis’ land is utilized for several purposes, including recreation, residential communities, power generation, and resource extraction for forestry, cattle grazing, oil, water, and gas. Recreation is a fairly significant element of the area surrounding Kananaskis, as one of the primary reasons for this area's establishment was to provide Albertans with more recreational opportunities, in addition to alleviating congestion in national parks.[3]

Visitors can participate in many winter activities in the Kananaskis Destination, as hundreds of kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing wind throughout the area. Dog sledding, snowboarding, ice fishing, ice skating, and ice climbing are a few other activities that are relatively popular among tourists during the winter. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, located in the destination’s western region, tends to be frequented by those who enjoy ice fishing.[4] Aside from winter recreation, a number of tourists are also drawn to warm-weather activities, many of which involve guided tours through caves or mountains. Grotto Mountain can be explored on a guided cave tour where people can observe limestone formations, fossils, and caverns.[5]

Calgary is the largest city in both the Kananaskis Destination and the province of Alberta. The city proper’s population of 1,306,784 residents as of 2021 has ranked it the third largest city in Canada. Moreover, with a metropolitan population of 1,481,806 people, Calgary is also the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the country. One of the most notable festivals in the city is the Calgary Stampede, an event that has taken place every July since 1912. This event generally lasts about 10 days, and it is recognized as one of the largest festivals in Canada on account of the 2005 attendance total of 1,242,928 people at the rodeo and exhibition.[7] The Calgary Stampede involves several rodeo shows that include barrel racing, bull riding, tie-down roping, bareback riding, steer wrestling, and saddle bronc. As a commemoration of the Native American culture, the event also hosts what is known as the Calgary Stampede Powow, where Native American-themed dancers and drummers perform and compete for a cash reward.[9] In view of this festival, Calgary is known as “Klincho-tinay-indihay” in the Slavey language, which translates to English as “many horse town,” in reference to the Calgary Stampede. This event has a significant contribution to the tourism industry within the city, as roughly 3.1 billion people visit the city annually.[7]

A particularly notable natural area in the Kananaskis Destination is Banff National Park, found in the northwestern corner of the destination. This area is recognized as the first national park established in Canada. In addition to being part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, Banff National Park serves as a hub for outdoor recreation, considering that numerous visitors have come to the park to experience paddling and rafting on Lake Louise, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, golfing, and to participate in tours, among several other activities. Tourists can visit Banff National Park year-round, as winter activities can be undertaken as well. Skiing and snowboarding are a couple of the most popular activities at the park during the winter season, though people also engage in dog sledding, snowshoeing, tubing, ice skating, and snowmobiling.[12][13]


The western region of the Kananaskis Destination is composed of the Kananaskis Improvement District, which encompasses a sizable portion of Alberta’s Rockies. Sharing borders with Kananaskis Country, the Kananaskis Improvement District occupies nearly 4,203.24 square kilometers.[1] A relatively high quantity of provincial parks is found in the district, namely Spray Valley, Peter Lougheed, Sheep River, Bluerock Wildland, and Bow Valley. The majority of the Kananaskis Destination’s western half is mountainous, while the eastern half is characterized by a flatter landscape comparatively. The Kananaskis Improvement District also contains a few aquatic land features, such as the Elbow River, Spray Lakes Reservoir, and Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. Four ecological regions comprise the Kananaskis Improvement District, which are as follows: the montane, alpine, subalpine, and aspen parkland regions.[6]

A diverse range of flora and fauna is found in each of the four regions, as the subalpine is home to marmots, pika, ground squirrels, elk, mountain goats, mountain sheep, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and large predators such as grizzly bears, wolves, black bears, and cougars. Regarding the plant life in the subalpine, the creeks and rivers of this region are surrounded by much vegetation. The meadows contain creeping juniper and aspen trees as well as grassy areas. The alpine region is inhabited by a variety of bird species, namely gray-crowned rosy finch, white-tailed ptarmigan, horned lark, and the American pipit. Geographically, glaciation formed much of the mountainous topography found in the Kananaskis Improvement District. This glaciation is evident in the remnants of moraines, eskers, kettle lakes, kames, and cirques in Kananaskis Country which can still be seen today.[6]

Four of the following public land use zones (PLUZ) make up Kananaskis Country: Sibbald, Cataract, McLean, and the Kananaskis Country Public Land Use Zone. The latter is the largest of the four, as it covers over a quarter of Kananaskis' total land area. Each PLUZ permits a number of operations, with a few of the most common being mining, cattle grazing, trapping, cultivation, logging, pipelines, recreation, and the production and exploration of oil and gas. For those who take an interest in the recreational aspect of these zones, some of the activities that can be engaged in are hunting, horseback riding, camping, mountain biking, hiking, and skiing.[3]

Concerning the climatic conditions that occur within the general extent of the destination, the Kananaskis Improvement District experiences a subarctic climate.[1] The warmest month of the year in Kananaskis Village—located in the northern portion of the Kananaskis Improvement District—is most commonly July, with an average maximum temperature of 18 degrees Celcius (64 degrees Fahrenheit). In contrast, the coldest month in this area tends to be January, as temperatures drop to around -4 degrees Celcius (24 degrees Fahrenheit). Precipitation occurs the most in Kananaskis Village during the month of June. Typically, the area receives about 108 millimeters (4.2 inches) of rainfall throughout this month.[8]


As a result of the last ice age, roughly 12,000 years ago, Kananaskis Country is now presently characterized by jagged peaks and u-shaped valleys. Over the course of 200 million years, the mountainous topography in Kananaskis Country formed as several layers of rock were forced by tectonic plates to break, pile, and fold into the mountains that can be seen today. Originally, these mountains were much taller compared to the height they currently reach. The rock that primarily formed the mountains was limestone that was created from layers of fossils from ancient sea creatures which lived in the inland sea that covered southern Alberta hundreds of millions of years ago. Researchers have determined much of this region’s geographic history that pertains to ancient sea creatures through the discovery of ancient coral reefs, oyster beds, and shark teeth, all of which were found in Kananaskis Country.[10]

Archaeologists have found that humans first inhabited Kananaskis Country over 8,000 years ago. The following tribes have a connection to the land: the Siksika, Stoney-Nakoda, Blood, and Kootenai First Nations. On an expedition in the region, Captain John Palliser was the individual who named the area Kananaskis about 150 years ago. The name, Kananaskis, originates from the North American Indigenous tribe language of the Cree, and the land was named after a warrior who survived an axe blow to his head, “Kin-e-a-kis.”[10]

With regard to the city of Calgary’s historical significance, the city initially began as a North-West Mounted Police post that was founded on the site in 1875. Initially, the fort was known unofficially as Fort Brisebois; however, the name was officially changed to Fort Calgary for a town on the Scottish Island of Mull the following year. Over time, Fort Calgary rapidly developed into a cattle-ranching frontier. It wasn’t until the year 1884 that Calgary was incorporated as a town, and 10 years later, it was then incorporated as a city prior to Alberta becoming a province. Owing to the farming community and railway connections that were established in the city, Calgary had become the primary shipping center for the cattle industry. This led to the city gaining its reputation as the “cow town.”[11]