Hitting the slopes with Rocky Mountain Adaptive

Check Out These Accessible Attractions for Albertans with Disabilities

By Joanne Elves

Everyone should havethe opportunity to get a little trail mud on their pants, get splashed by a paddle or stop to smell the alpine flowers. For Albertans, including people with physical or cognitive challenges, all those opportunities are available right in our provincial backyard. 

Canmore-based Rocky Mountain Adaptive provides individuals with disabilities the chance to participate in sports in the Canadian Rockies. More than 20 different seasonal activities are offered. In winter, the organization offers everything from supported snowshoe treks to private sit-skiing lessons. In summer, ask about “adventure day” experiences that mix everything from cycling to paddle sports. 

No matter the activity, it’s all customized to your abilities and led by trained staff. “Our motto is ‘No Limits,’” says Alana MacLeod, Rocky Mountain Adaptive’s community outreach coordinator. “Our goal is to make mountain sports and recreation accessible to all.”

Mobility devices are no challenge on these trails

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis Country has wide, paved trails that roll gently through forests, fens and wet-lands, with stunning views of the lakes and mountains beyond. 

• The hiking trail lacing the shores of Lake Annette in Jasper National Park is paved for all-abilities access. A quick trip along the boardwalk to Pyramid Island also makes for a fun stroll.  

These accessible outdoor attractions make Manitoba open to everyone

• At Cypress Hills Provincial Park, enjoy the Soggy Bottom Trail boardwalk and paved Shoreline Trail at Elkwater Lake. By night, the accessible Firerock campground affords stargazing opportunities.

infographic with pieces of para ice hockey equipment explaining the sport as an accessible attraction
illustration: Cindy Lubinic

Barrier-free blooms offer sense appeal for all. At the CNIB Fragrant Garden in Calgary’s Bridgeland-Riverside neighbourhood, broad paths are lined with plants selected for their distinct scents and textures, while the walkways are designed to help visually impaired guests practice with their white canes. Outside Edmonton, the University of Alberta Botanic Garden has everything from dainty lilies to pompous peonies in its 10 collections—including a stimulating herb and sensory garden. 

man in adaptive wheelchair on barrier-free trail through coniferous woodland
A barrier-free trail at William Watson Lodge (photo: Gwen Ross-Cieslak)

Family favourites that make it easy for everyone to enjoy

1 Count the Rockies’ most famous peaks by riding the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Both the gondola and an observation deck at the summit are accessible to wheelchair users.

What’s being done to boost cycling safety and accessibility in Alberta?

2 Through the Easter Seals Access2 card program, qualified care aids and support workers can get no-cost admission to AMA Rewards partner attractions like TELUS World of Science Edmonton, TELUS Spark in Calgary and the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo.

3 Watch for fantastic barrier-free upgrades at the William Watson Lodge in Kananaskis Country. Set to reopen next year following extensive renovations, it’s the perfect, affordable wilderness lodging for persons with disabilities and their families.