With two National Hockey League teams, professional basketball and soccer teams, this province has many options when it comes to spectator sports. And, the provincial capital of Edmonton is on the shortlist to host games during the 2026 FIFA World Cup — the biggest sporting event on the planet.
But, we don’t just want to sit on the sidelines and watch. From great parks to cutting edge recreational facilities, Alberta has plenty of places where our residents and visitors can skate, shred, ski, swim, sprint, sweep and swoop.
Outdoor enthusiasts can find a variety of outdoor activities in the nearly 500 provincial and national parks or in one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stop in at the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, the legacy facility from the 1988 Winter Olympics, where you can ski, snowboard or tube. In the off-season you can try summer bobsleigh, downhill carting or a monster zipline.
South of Calgary, visit Waterton National Park near the American border to see waterfalls, clear lakes and pretty, colourful streams where the prairies scenes juxtapose the Rocky Mountains.
The Edmonton metropolitan region boasts a continuous collection of urban parks, known as the Ribbon of Green, along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. With more than 160 kilometres of maintained pathways, you can run, walk, ride a bike or rent a Segway to enjoy the vistas.
In the northern part of the province you can explore Wood Buffalo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve. Look for wild bison, or flocks of whooping cranes while you hike, paddle, snowshoe or cross-country ski from your campsite or rented cabin.
From metropolitan cityscapes to the glorious wilderness, Alberta is a big, big playground — and the world is invited.
Investment by Alberta, over three years, in health-care capital projects and programs
105 BILLION CUBIC METRES
Volume of annual water flow through the province
2.8 MILLION HECTARES
of land make up Alberta’s Provincial Park System
Distance of designated and managed trails in Alberta, plus hundreds of thousands of kilometres of unintended trails
Source: Government of Alberta
Grab Your mountain Mike and Discover Southeastern Alberta’s Best Kept Secret
Situated in the Canadian Badlands in the southeast region of the province, there are phenomenal mountain bike trails that offer two distinct riding terrains: from the arid desert landscape around Medicine Hat and Redcliff, just three hours southeast of Calgary, to the rolling hills and pine forests of Elkwater, further south near Cypress Hills interprovincial park. Riders can have it all — in a single day.
“A lot of people didn’t know we had these [bike trails] here,” says Ben Suranko, board member with Alberta’s 670 Collective Mountain Bike Club in Medicine Hat.
The region also boasts the most days of sunshine anywhere in Canada, helping to make it the perfect year-round biking destination.
Once a best-kept secret, its riding trails and the unparalleled experiences have gained popularity during the pandemic as people seek outdoor adventures close to home.
Head to the central Alberta town of Innisfail to “shred the gnar”
If you understand skateboarding lingo, you’ll know that it means to ride through a skatepark with reckless abandon. It’s about riding the rails, rolling up and down the bowl and successfully completing your flips and turns.
Skateboarding is now widely accepted as a sport; it was one of the most popular events of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Innisfail, a town in central Alberta, was ahead of the curve by making the building of a 110,000 square foot skatepark part of a 10-year capital construction plan. The park opened in summer 2020 and features a bowl with a tile deep end reminiscent of the early days of skateboarding, when California kids used to skate in empty swimming pools. There are stairs, rails and flat bars — and it’s been designed to be able to host national and international competitions.
The local Kinsmen and Lion’s clubs raised more than $60,000 CND to help build the park, and the surrounding Red Deer County chipped in almost $284,000. The construction of the park came in at $850,000.
The park fulfills the town’s mandate to promote social good as outlined in its Strategic Plan: It states that “health, well-being, safety and quality of life of individuals, families and the community” have to be prioritized.
Being on the ice is a way of life for Albertans — and Alberta’s communities often find their rinks in high demand. Hockey, family skates, figure skating and… did we mention hockey? Ice sheets are often booked seven days of a week.
The town of Blackfalds, in central Alberta, has embarked on a $24.6 million plan to add a second rink to its arena, and to consolidate the local library into the building as well.
Construction for the second ice sheet has begun, and will be home to the Blackfalds Bulldogs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, a circuit that prepares many players for collegiate play, because playing in the Western Hockey League prevents a prospect from receiving an athletic scholarship from an American post-secondary institution.
A total of $15 million has been allocated for the second rink, and $4 million for the adjoining library. Eagle Builders, based in Blackfalds, has begun construction on the arena, which will be renamed the Eagle Builders Centre. The 12,000 square foot library project is set to begin in 2024. Big recreation for small towns leads to abundant living in Alberta.