Less than an hour from Calgary, the hidden treasure known as the Elbow Valley is a peaceful area in the Canadian Rockies where recreational activities abound. Situated within the boundaries of Kananaskis Country, an area famous for the 1988 Winter Olympics’ Nordic and alpine events, Elbow Valley affords the visitor a chance to enjoy true immersion in big nature without having to deal with the crowds.
Camping in Elbow Valley, Alberta
Kananaskis Country holds some of Alberta's most beautiful scenery. © John Marriott
With over 600 campsites, Elbow Valley allows you to take your pick of spots. Because the area is less traveled than Kananaskis Country, campsites are almost always available. With spacious grounds and many drive-through sites, there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the glorious setting. Note: most campsites are without service, including the lack of shower facilities, so come prepared.
Hiking in Elbow Valley, Alberta
A plethora of trails greet the hiker in this magnificent valley. Whether you climb Nihahi Ridge (“rocky” in the Stoney Indian language) to stand atop the ridge that heralds the official entrance to the Rockies or climb to the top of Moose Mountain, transcendent vistas await you at every turn. Climb up Powderface ridge or follow Paddy’s trail along the shore of the Elbow River to see the brilliant colors of the wildflowers that burst forth in the spring.
Biking in Elbow Valley, Alberta
Here again you will find a range of trails to lead you into the widely diverse terrain that defines the Elbow Valley. With rolling foothills, bikers can enjoy the pure air while taking in all the sights along the way.
Horseback Riding in Elbow Valley, Alberta
Elbow Valley features trails specifically designed for horseback riding vacations in Alberta. With their solid surfaces, riders avoid the ruts that are found in other vacation destinations within the Rockies. Mount your horse and head out to Little Elbow Campground, created especially for equestrian use. With a free stall for your horse, you can relax or head out into the wilderness when the spirit takes you.
ATV Riding in Elbow Valley, Alberta
If ATV riding is your thing, ride over to the MacLean Creek Off Highway Vehicle Zone where there are 200 square km of road. Explore the network of trails among the wild horses and undulating terrain. Note: if bringing your dirt bike, make sure it is properly insured, licensed, and equipped. The Off Highway Vehicle Act is strictly enforced to ensure that the area is treated respectfully.
Additional Areas to Explore
Take an excursion to the Sheep River Valley, just south of Elbow Valley. Accessible from Turner Valley, Sheep Valley is quiet and consists of two main campgrounds: Sandy McNabb and Blurock, as well as a number of day-use areas. There are also facilities for horses and numerous mountain trails for biking and hiking.
The Sheep River Wildlife Sanctuary is where you can take an up-close gander at bighorn sheep. Protected from hunters, the sheep stay within the sanctuary’s boundaries and are easily visible, often taking their strolls right by the roadway.