Calgary, In Less Than 12 Hours

Question: Is less than 12 hours enough time to get a taste of any city? Typically, my answer is an unequivocal “no.”

That said, my recent visit to Alberta’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks – home to Banff and Lake Louise – required an overnight in Calgary in order to make an early morning flight. How to make the most of so little time in such a diverse city became my challenge. Yet, this challenge was met by an itinerary that was adventurous, delicious and luxurious. So, yes, it is possible to experience a city in less than 12 hours.

Superlatives describe Calgary. With an average of 2,405 hours of annual sun, it is Canada’s sunniest major city. It’s been named the world’s cleanest city (2013). It is host of the country’s biggest rodeo, the Calgary Stampede (thus the city’s signature white cowboy hats). Fish Creek Park is Western Canada’s longest urban park and its Bow River is one of the world’s top trout fishing streams.

1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. As site of the first Winter Olympics to be held in Canada, the selection of Calgary as the setting of 1988’s XV Winter Olympic Games and its most noted landmark, a soaring ski jump tower, captured both my attention and limited time. At 295 feet above ground, the tower is the Games’ most visible legacy and the starting point of WinSport Canada Olympic Park’s Monster Zipline. Reaching speeds up to 75 mph, it is North America’s fastest zipline.

A bit of background: I’ve ziplined several times, most recently at Utah Olympic Park on its Xtreme Zipline, so the experience is not a new one. However, when informed during pre-zip instructions that my release of a parachute would slow my speed, let’s just say I rethought my choice of adventures. Fast forward to post-zip and to my accompanying assortment of emotions: excitement, exhilaration and accomplishment.


Cynthia Dial

Cynthia Dial is an admitted travel writing addict, and shares that she pinches herself each time she steps onto the promenade deck of a cruise ship, boards a train or settles into a plane seat to go to work. She's taken a city tour of Melbourne, Australia, from the back of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, hiked the Austrian Alps and learned to surf in Waikiki -- all for a good story. A special corres...(Read More)

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