Calgary, nestled in the heart of Alberta, Canada, is a vibrant and diverse city that offers a wide range of attractions and activities for travelers of all interests. While the city itself has much to offer, one of the best ways to truly appreciate its beauty.
Let’s start with a bird’s-eye view of Calgary itself. Flying over the city gives you a unique perspective of its modern skyline, dotted with iconic landmarks such as the Calgary Tower and the Bow building. As you glide above the city, you’ll witness the convergence of the Bow and Elbow rivers, creating a stunning contrast between the sparkling waterways and the bustling metropolis.
If you’re an aviation enthusiast, consider booking a helicopter tour for a close-up view of Calgary’s urban landscape. These tours often include informative commentary, providing historical and cultural insights into the city.
Banff National Park
Just a short flight away from Calgary lies one of Canada’s most renowned natural treasures: Banff National Park. Aerial tours of this majestic park offer breathtaking vistas of pristine alpine lakes, rugged mountain ranges, and abundant wildlife. From the air, you’ll see the mesmerizing turquoise waters of Lake Louise and the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Canadian Rockies.
If you’re a photography enthusiast, this is an ideal opportunity to capture postcard-perfect shots of Banff’s landscapes. Be sure to have your camera ready to snap shots of glaciers, waterfalls, and the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel nestled in the wilderness.
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Just west of Calgary, Kananaskis Country is a wilderness playground waiting to be explored from above. Helicopter tours are popular in this region, offering a thrilling way to see the rugged terrain, dense forests, and meandering rivers. Keep an eye out for wildlife like black bears, elk, and mountain goats that roam freely in this pristine wilderness.
The Kananaskis region is also known for its network of hiking trails and outdoor activities. Aerial views can help you plan your next adventure, whether it’s a hike to a hidden alpine lake or a day of rock climbing on the rugged peaks.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
For those interested in paleontology and natural history, a flight to Dinosaur Provincial Park is a must. Located approximately two hours from Calgary, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of dinosaur fossils. Flying over the park allows you to appreciate the vast badlands and unique geological formations that conceal the remains of ancient creatures.
Several helicopter and small aircraft operators offer tours of Dinosaur Provincial Park, giving you an opportunity to explore this prehistoric wonder from the air. Don’t forget your binoculars for spotting fossils and the chance to catch a glimpse of current excavations.
Drumheller and the Hoodoos
Continuing with the theme of geological wonders, Drumheller, Alberta, is another captivating destination easily accessible by air from Calgary. This area is famous for its striking hoodoos—tall, thin rock formations that resemble otherworldly sculptures. Aerial tours provide an exceptional perspective of these natural wonders, showcasing their unique shapes and sizes.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller is also a must-visit for dinosaur enthusiasts. From the air, you can appreciate the museum’s architectural design, which is shaped like a dinosaur’s skeleton. Combining a visit to the museum with an aerial tour offers a comprehensive experience of the region’s geological and paleontological marvels.
Heading westward from Calgary, you’ll encounter the Columbia Icefield, which straddles the border of Alberta and British Columbia. This massive icefield feeds several major rivers and is the source of countless glaciers. A flight over the Columbia Icefield provides a stunning vista of this frozen wilderness.
One of the highlights of this aerial journey is the opportunity to see the Athabasca Glacier, a major outlet of the icefield. The glacier’s brilliant blue hues and crevasses are truly a sight to behold from above. Some tour operators offer glacier landing experiences, allowing you to step onto the ice and experience this frozen wonderland up close.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Venturing south of Calgary, you’ll reach Waterton Lakes National Park, a serene and picturesque destination that shares its border with Montana’s Glacier National Park. A flight over Waterton Lakes offers panoramic views of the park’s stunning lakes, including Upper and Middle Waterton Lakes, nestled amidst the rugged mountains.
This region is known for its diverse wildlife, including bears, bighorn sheep, and a variety of bird species. Aerial tours often include commentary on the park’s unique ecosystems and conservation efforts. Consider taking a boat tour on Upper Waterton Lake to complete your exploration of this beautiful park.
Jasper National Park
Continuing north from Banff, you’ll find Jasper National Park, another jewel in the Canadian Rockies. Flying over Jasper provides an unparalleled perspective of its pristine wilderness, glacier-fed lakes, and majestic peaks. Keep an eye out for the breathtaking Athabasca Falls, which you can often spot from the air.
Jasper is renowned for its stargazing opportunities due to its Dark Sky Preserve status. If you’re interested in astronomy, consider booking a flight that coincides with the night sky to witness the celestial wonders above this remote wilderness.
In addition to specific destinations, consider embarking on a helicopter adventure from Calgary. Helicopter tours can take you to various scenic spots, including remote mountain lakes, hidden waterfalls, and even remote backcountry lodges. These customizable experiences allow you to create your own aerial adventure tailored to your interests.
Some tour operators offer glacier landings, which provide a unique opportunity to step onto ancient ice formations high in the mountains. These excursions often include guides who share their knowledge of the area’s natural history and geology.
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The best time to fly in Calgary can vary depending on your interests. In the summer, you can enjoy clear skies and warm temperatures, making it ideal for exploring the national parks and lakes from the air. In the winter, consider taking a helicopter tour over the snow-covered mountains for a completely different perspective of the region’s beauty.