Opened in August 2011, the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park has over 1300 hectares of rolling hills and river flatlands on the banks of the Bow River. Over 25 kilometers of walking and biking trails weave through this park in Southern Alberta.
The gentle hills between Calgary and Cochrane, Alberta, would probably have been prime land to develop into an upscale subdivision, but instead, this former family farm has been preserved in its near natural state for generations to come.
The natural reserve doubles as a working ranch with hundreds of cattle and horses roaming the native grasslands. The park setting is in the foothills of Alberta but the terrain and native plants is of rare fescue grasslands, similar to Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.
Looking eastward, visitors will see the modern downtown skyline and Canada Olympic Park in the distance. To the west, the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains frame the horizon, as shown in the photo. The valley bottom is divided by the calm, flowing waters of the Bow River.
There are plenty of paved walking paths and packed-gravel trails that extend to all corners of the park. Some trails lead to viewpoints on hill tops to offer better views of the river valley (no bikes allowed) while others lead to some historic sights within the park. Eventually, the extensive trail system will connect to the urban cycling paths of Calgary and Cochrane.
The CPR mainline runs through the park and the gentle train echoing in the valley brings back childhood memories of the railway. Train lovers of all ages have a grand opportunity to see trains close up.
Interpretive signs shows how the land has been shaped by the ancient glaciers and how the geography has remained the same since humans have lived in the area.
During dawn and dusk, this natural corridor is used by badgers, weasels, coyotes, deer, elk and cougars.
View Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park in a larger map
Getting to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is via Highway 1A at the end of Glenbow Road (south). Access will improve when the highway twinning construction is complete.