Kananaskis Country is often mistaken for a single park, similar to Banff National Park, but in actuality it is 4,200+ square kilometres of mixed-use lands. It is comprised of a ‘patchwork quilt’ of parks, protected areas, and public land use zones that accommodate a variety of uses, such as preservation, heritage appreciation, outdoor recreation, tourism, and industry.
There are varying degrees of protection and permitted activities within the different categories of landscape. K-Country includes five Provincial Parks, four Wildland Provincial Parks, an Ecological Reserve, numerous Provincial Recreation Areas, four Public Land Use Zones, two Public Land Recreation Trails, and more. Click here for a full listing of the different types of land use. Click here for our summary of the ones in use in K-Country, what they are and why they are there.
Here, you’ll find links to official Park websites for many of these spaces. You’ll also find other links leading to our own much more extensive descriptions, offering a greater, in-depth look at when and why the area was created, how it contributes to Kananaskis, how it’s managed, and more.
And in addition, Kananaskis is home to some very special places indeed. Read about some of them by clicking the links below; come back often to see what we’ve added!
- Spray Valley Provincial Park: Official link here, our story here!
- Bow Valley Provincial Park: Official link here.
- Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park: Official link here.
- Peter Lougheed Provincial Park: Official link here.
- Sheep River Provincial Park: Official link here.
Selected Provincial Recreation Areas (“PRA”)
- Evan-Thomas PRA: Official link here, our story here!
- Heart Creek PRA: Official link here, our story here!
Wildland Provincial Parks
- Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park: Official link here, our story here.
- Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park: Official link here, our story here.
- Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park: Official link here, our story here.
- Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park: Official link here
Public land can be managed through a Public Land Use Zoning (a “PLUZ”), or can be left without a PLUZ designation.
- Kananaskis PLUZ: Our story here, which also offers a great background on PLUZs!
- Cataract Creek Snow Vehicle PLUZ: Our story here!
- Sibbald Snow Vehicle PLUZ: Our story here!
- McLean Creek PLUZ. Official link here.
- Other Public Land: Our story about Fortress Mountain, and bit about “holes” in K-Country’s Parks
- Other Public Land Management: The Kananaskis Improvement District: Official link here, our story here!
Public Land Recreation Trails
These are not what you think they are, and Kananaskis has two (and there are only three in the rest of the Province!). Official info on them is VERY hard to come by — but we’ve solved that for you!
There is almost no private land in K–Country. But you should know about the few bits that are private.
- The single most important bit of private land is the Burns Property. It can affect your travels in the Sheep Valley along the historic Sheep River hiking trail.
Some of K-Country’s Special Places & Things
- Rock Glaciers
- Mountains as Memorials: Mt. Farquhar
- Mountains as Memorials: Mt. Buller
- Mountains as Memorials: Mt. Putnik
- Sand Dunes and Beaches
- Fossil beds
- The “Secret” Cave
- Glaciers: Old Goat Glacier
- Glaciers: Rae Glacier
- Mysterious Freshwater and Hot Springs
- Upper & Lower Kananaskis Lakes
- Spray Lake
- Barrier Lake
- Rat’s Nest Cave
- Plateau Mountain Ice Cave
- Trees with tape in them
K-Country is home to a number of lookouts in Alberta’s Fire Management network. Lookouts hold special appeal for many hikers because they usually have a reasonable access route, and always offer commanding views.
It is important to remember that all active lookouts are private residences. Facilities like water and outhouses are NOT for visitor use. It is generally very discouraged to approach the buildings, and it is vitally important to stay away from weather stations and helipads. Some of the lookout operators may be available to talk when you visit, but others may not. Below, you can read our stories about a few of K-Country’s fire lookouts.