Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - So Close To Calgary, So Much to Do!

by - Friday, May 01, 2015

Drive west of Calgary for half an hour and enter the foothills - a land of rolling terrain, big skies, and mountain vistas. This landscape has captured the hearts of many, near and far; filmmakers have made numerous films in this area that screams cowboy country. Now, city folk have the chance to hike and bike the beautiful hills of Glenbow Ranch, Alberta's newest provincial park (2015). Parts of the park are still used for cattle grazing, so obey trail closures, and admire the horses and cows from a distance.  

Iconic Alberta Skies and Magnificent Views of the Foothills and Rockies

I first heard of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park a couple years ago when I saw a friend's fantastic fall photos. Thrilled to discover a new park, just half an hour west of Calgary on Highway 1A, we headed out that weekend to see the foliage for ourselves. The autumn leaves did not disappoint and the trails at Glenbow Ranch have continued to delight the whole family through springs and summers also. 

Glenbow Ranch in Fall

Activities at Glenbow Ranch

Our favorite thing to do at Glenbow Ranch is ride our bikes down to the river, but there is also a kid-friendly geocaching hike that was a big hit! Here are some more ideas for your trip:
  • Hiking: With 28 kilometres of trails, you have lots of options.  For little legs, Tiger Lily Loop (2 km) is just right. Be sure to take the 200 metre detour to the lookout. The view is fantastic! For more information on Tiger Lily Loop, see The Best Short Hikes Near Calgary.
  • Self-guided tour: If you would like to learn more about the area's flora, fauna, geography, and history, scan the QR codes on the park signs for video, text, and audio files.
  • Geocaching: There are three* geocaches along Tiger Lily Loop, and one behind the Visitor Centre. Do not be put off by their micro size! Although tiny, they were placed near the trail and my 4 & 5 year olds found them with ease. Allow 1-1.5 hours to complete the 2 km loop with children. The caches available are:
    • GRPPMS2 - Tree Frog (GC3Y737)
    • GRPPMS3 - Stumped Lizard (GC3Y734)
    • GRPPMS4 - Man Down! (GC3Y732)
    • GRPPMS5 - Sticky Situation (GC3Y72N)
    • *Note that as of time of writing, Bugtacular View was temporarily unavailable (shows up as the 4th geocache in Tiger Lily Loop). 
    • To learn how to Geocache, see How to Geocache With Your Smart Phone.
  • Cycling: There are paved and gravel trails. Younger riders may need help on the big hill just past the Visitor Centre, but once you descend into the river valley, there are plenty of flat trails. We like Glenbow Trail (paved), Bowbend Trail (2.6 km paved, 2 km gravel), and Bow River Loop (gravel). If you prefer hills, there are lots of those too, so you can really get a workout. Eventually you'll be able to bike from Calgary to Cochrane on the Calgary to Cochrane Regional Trail. See Alberta Trailnet for more info.
  • Bird watching, wildlife viewing
  • Programs & Golf Cart Tours - Programs include Golf Cart Birding Tours, star gazing, walks, and pond exploration. Registration is required. Some programs charge a fee; for others, donations are recommended. View all programs at Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation - Programs and Events
  • Picnicking - There are several picnic areas in the park. On a windy day, take shelter in the picnic area behind the Visitor Centre. For views, the picnic area near the park entrance can't be beat! 
You may view the park map here.

Spring biking at Glenbow Ranch - view from the top

The view from the bottom of the hill is also beautiful!
Prairie Crocuses 
Summer Fun by the Bow River
Biking the Bow River Loop
Our favorite geocache at Glenbow Ranch.

Good To Know Before You Go

  • There are washrooms at the parking lot, west side of the park, and east side of the park. There are no washrooms at the Visitor Centre / Park Office.
  • The General Store shown on the map is NOT open. Like many others, we though we'd be able to get a snack there, but it is has been closed for several years. Bring your own food and water!
  • Glenbow Ranch is still a working ranch, so pay attention to trail closures for your safety. Trail closures are posted at Alberta Parks - Glenbow Ranch - Advisories.
  • Tiger Lily Loop is NOT stroller friendly as there are 2 gates on the trail to keep bikes out. 
  • Bring a picnic as you will want to stay a while!   
Glenbow General Store & Post Office
Image Credit: Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation/Susan de Caen

Directions from Calgary

  1. Head west on Highway 1A (13 kilometres from Stoney Trail and Crowchild Trail).
  2. Turn left on Glenbow Trail. Watch for a blue sign indicating the turnoff to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. 
  3. Stay on the gravel road for 3 km until you get to the parking lot. 

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2 comments

  1. Thanks a lot for this much detailed and clean explanations..I was searching for such a travel site for a long time.. Great work..Keep exploring..👍👍👍

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Out of Focus! I hope you had a great visit to Glenbow Ranch!

    ReplyDelete

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