As long-time residents, we have never seen people getting out and enjoying the City of Calgary’s parks and green spaces as much as we have this past year. Calgary has over 10,000 hectares of urban parkland and over 1,000km of multi-use pathways so there are plenty of green spaces to explore. We definitely have our favourite city parks that we visit again and again, but what better time to get out and explore some new spaces than now when we’re all staying close to home?
Time spent in nature is good for both the body and soul and those benefits are more necessary than ever. So read on and get out there!
All of the City of Calgary’s Parks
We’re now past the one-year anniversary since the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and many of us have been staying close to home ever since. So with that, we have decided to challenge ourselves to visit every one of Calgary’s urban parks. We will log our urban adventures here and put up a quick review, comments, or photos on our experience in each of the parks. In doing so, we hope to inspire people to get out and try visiting some new green areas in their neighbourhoods!
The City of Calgary has a list of all of the major parks within city limits so we started by taking stock of the parks that we had explored. This, of course, required an excel spreadsheet. Green is a park we’ve been to, yellow is one we’ve been to but feel warrants more exploration to truly check off, and the rest we haven’t touched.
It’s pretty wild how many parks within the city we haven’t explored yet so we are looking forward to checking out some new places. Check out the list yourself, how many have you been to out of the 76? (For us, it’s 33/76, only 43%).
Calgary certainly has a lot of great areas to explore within city limits, whether you’re looking for a walk, cycling, hiking, skiing, wildlife, paddle, or any other number of activities.
Kicking Off Our Parks Project
We decided that it was appropriate to start this project by revisiting one of our favourite city parks. We love this one so much that we moved back to the neighbourhood because we missed being close to it. We’ve talked about it on this blog many times before and it is, of course, Confederation Park.
When we went to revisit Confederation Park last weekend it was busy as Calgarian’s stretched their legs and enjoyed some warmer weather. We saw all manner of families, cyclists, runners, bbqs, photoshoots, even a busker just past 10th St.
This inner-city spark spans from 19 St NW to 30 Ave NW. It was created in 1967 to mark 100 years of Canadian Confederation. There are paved multi-use pathways that run the length of the park and if you so desire, plenty of areas to meander off track to avoid the crowds or set up a picnic in the grass. Confederation park also boasts several fire pits, a skating rink, picnic tables, a baseball diamond, tennis courts, and an adorable woodsy playground that was updated for Canada 150.
A stream runs through the park to a charming duck pond with a viewing platform. The stream and duck pond actually serves a stormwater management function proving that thoughtful environmental management can have beautiful results. Confed park could be a boring utilitarian retention pond but instead, it’s an outdoor destination of which Calgarians can be proud. I could bore you with an ecological economics rant about how we should all be asking our governments to value the ecosystem services that things like urban streams, ponds, wildlife, insects, and greenery provide to us but I’ll just keep talking about why I love this park.
Besides the diversity of things that you can do in the park, there is also a tremendous diversity of plants and wildlife that can be seen in the park. Beautiful flowering mayday and mountain ash trees dazzle in the spring while towering cottonwoods provide shade in the summer. Larch trees turn golden in the fall and bright red twig dogwoods line the pathways in the dead of winter.
Confederation Park is a favourite destination for birdwatchers, especially during the spring and fall when an exciting array of migrating warblers come passing through. Year-round, people can delight in watching the antics of mallard ducks, chickadees, nuthatches, squirrels, hares, and even the occasional bobcat or coyote. Part of Confederation Park is also home to the City-run Confederation Park Golf Course.
During the winter you may see people sledding or even downhill skiing or snowboarding after a big snowfall (it’s a pretty short slope but hey, it’s right in the city!). Nordic skiers can enjoy some of the best cross-country skiing in the city at the Confederation Park Golf Course. While those trails are free to use in the winter, donations to Foothills Nordic are greatly appreciated and go a long way to ensuring that this winter wonderland stays in good shape for so many people to enjoy.
What’s more, each year during the winter volunteers place up thousands of Christmas lights along 14th Street in Confederation Park for the Lions Festival of Lights. It’s a very cute place to walk around with a hot chocolate and the family – there’s definitely a lot of things to do in Confed during the winter.
So regardless of the season, a walk, run, ride, ski through Confederation Park is always a good idea. 10/10 would visit again.
If you’re familiar with the park, let us know in the comments what one of your favourite parts of the park is. If you haven’t been, go check out Confederation Park, it’s a gem!