BringFido's Guide to Alberta

Posted by Billy Francis

From craggy badlands to icy glaciers, Alberta’s varied landscape makes for an exciting vacation destination with Fido. Here, your pup can roam as free as the bison in off-leash areas across the province’s biggest cities, join you on crystal-clear lake adventures in the shadow of snow-capped mountains, devour meals prepared just for him and sleep under the stars in secluded surroundings.

Things to Do

“Cool pond, I guess.” Photo by iStock/shutterbugger

Alberta is calling you and your pooch to explore pristine national parks, welcoming small towns and giant off-leash areas.

Bark in Banff

Banff National Park boasts over 900 miles of trails, most of which welcome pups unless high bear activity has been recorded. From easy trails with big payoffs like Rockpile and Lake Louise Lakeshore to moderate marches that lead high into the mountains like Johnston Canyon to Upper Falls, there’s something for all canine hiking levels in this magnificent park. If you want somebody else to lead the way, take a tour with Banff Day Trips. This pet-friendly tour company offers a place for small dogs on regular tours and big dogs on private tours. Each journey takes you to area highlights like Lake Minnewanka and to secret spots off the beaten path. Ask your guide to swing by Banff Dog House in downtown so you can buy a life jacket before adventuring out on the water with Banff Canoe Club.

Alberta is Off the Leash!

Sue Higgins Park in Calgary is one of the world’s largest dog parks. From the moment your pup sets a paw inside the 150-acre enclosure, she’ll find something new at every turn. She can weave in and out of poles, hop over agility equipment, play fetch on the vast open fields, catch a quick dog nap under the shady trees, and dive headfirst into Bow River. In Edmonton, your pooch can wander the winding trails and cross an 800-foot bridge at Terwillegar Park. And, canine visitors to Red Deer can explore 40 acres of open space at The Oxbows Off Leash Dog Park.

“Sit back and enjoy the view.” Photo by iStock/s-eyerkaufer

Canoe Calgary and Beyond

With more than 600 freshwater lakes in Alberta, there are an abundance of places for you to explore the water with your pooch. Call in at The Paddle Station to rent a pet-friendly kayak or canoe and explore Calgary’s Bow River. Visitors to Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, can explore magical Maligne Lake in a canoe rental from Maligne Lake Boat House. Or, Labradors in Lethbridge can rent a canoe or kayak from Southern Alberta's largest rental, High Level Canoes and Kayaks.

“I think you should use that one that looks like a stick.” Photo by

Tee Off With Your Pet Caddy

If you’re looking for a casual round, Cochrane Golf Club is the dog-friendly golf course for you. The resident canine caddies, Chloe and Echo, aim to make Fido feel welcome from the moment he arrives. Visiting dogs pay a $5 green fee or $75 for an annual Pet Membership that will go directly to the support of the Cochrane & Area Humane Society. Dogs are also welcome on Cochrane Golf Club’s tricky 18-hole miniature golf course.

Cruise Through the Park

Waterton Lakes National Park is another of Alberta's astonishing protected areas. It’s the only Canadian park to preserve foothills fescue grassland, which means you’ll likely discover an array of rare and beautiful flora on one of the park’s pet-friendly trails. Stride out on Bear’s Hump, a moderate 1.5-mile trail that leads to incredible views of lakes and snow-capped mountains. Or, go for a more casual stroll on Blakiston Falls Trail for epic photo opportunities of your pup in the wilderness. Then, sign up for a pet-friendly mini cruise with Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co. From seating inside or out, four-legged tourists will witness Rocky Mountain views, towering cliffs and gorgeous waterfalls from the water.

Get Lost in Lethbridge

Exploring a pet-friendly corn maze with your furry best friend is a great way to spend an afternoon outside together, but how about getting lost in four unique mazes? Get your steps in while you try to crack The Big Maze at Lethbridge Corn Maze, attempt the pallett and hedge mazes, then give your brain a workout in the trivia maze. Leashed dogs are welcome to explore the rest of the farm if they get along with other animals. Afterwards, head to Popson Park for off-leash fun on open trails and meadows with a lesser chance of getting lost.

Places to Stay

“What are you looking at?” Photo by BringFido/Margot

From a luxury hotel to a pair of converted tin cans, Alberta is full of lodgings that welcome furry guests.

Luxury in Banff

Fairmont Banff Springs isn’t just a pet-friendly winter wonderland. This 4-star hotel inside Banff National Park is known as “Canada’s Castle in the Rockies.” Fido will be greeted at check-in by the resort’s canine ambassadors, Bear and Lily. Fairmont Banff Springs’ canine contingent has made sure four-legged guests are just as well treated as everybody else, which means a dog bed, bowls with fresh water and a special dog-friendly welcome gift come as standard.

Indoor-Outdoor Living

Book a stay at Braided Creek Luxury Glamping, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Priddis. Whether you want to fish from the deck, check out nearby Elbow Falls or explore the Bragg Creek Trails, your vacation will be packed full of fun activities. At the end of the day, clean your pup’s paws in the outdoor shower, cook dinner at the outdoor kitchen and cuddle up next to a roaring fireplace after dark.

Fido’s tin can awaits. Photo by Airbnb

A Different Grain

It’s time to reserve Fido’s first-ever “silocation.” Tin Bins Cabin is a unique pet-friendly Airbnb that provides “luxury glamping at its finest.” Two repurposed metal grain bins have been joined together to create a spacious, open-plan living area. Pups are invited to explore pet-friendly trails that weave around the surrounding woods, clean up in the outdoor cowboy shower or even hop in the cowboy bathtub. Once the sun sets, Fido can relax on the hardwood floor next to the roaring wood stove.

Check-in to Hotel Blackfoot

Spend the night near downtown Calgary at Hotel Blackfoot. This welcoming pet-friendly hotel happily accepts dogs of all sizes in spacious rooms on the first three floors. Pups who come to stay receive treats at check-in and are free to stretch their legs on the grass outside. If it’s your turn to plan a doggy date night, enjoy barbeque favorites on the patio at Prairie Dog Brewing, just around the corner.

“Escape to the mountains!” Photo by Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge

A Stone’s Throw From Banff

Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge is an affordable pet-friendly option near Banff National Park. Intrepid canine travelers who will be spending most of their vacation hitting the epic trails nearby will find comfort at this lodge, while their owners will find the price comforting. Four-legged guests can collapse into a complimentary bed at the end of the day, use the lodge’s bowls, and even receive special treats and a toy to take home.

Let Fido Loose

After a day exploring off-leash areas around Edmonton, it’s comforting to know that no leash is necessary at this house with a fenced yard either. In addition to boasting a spacious lawn with a fire pit, this city cottage is a short walk from a large field, perfect for a game of fetch. Inside, hardwood floors make for easy cleanup and there’s a fully equipped kitchen where you can whip up Fido’s fresh favorites in no time.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants

“Take flight!” Photo by @milliemorkiepoo

Hike to a secluded restaurant in the middle of the forest and find dishes for dogs on the menu of these Alberta eateries.

All In For Dogs

Relax and refuel at Cold Garden Beverage Company in Calgary. This popular neighborhood hangout invites “pawtrons” and their people to hang out on the spacious patio for delicious brews on tap, live music and good vibes. While no food is served, you’re free to pick up something from a nearby eatery and enjoy it with your beer.

Sip With Fido

The Station Pub + Grill is a hip hangout in Calgary that loves hosting dogs and humans alike. The eclectic menu for humans is full of tantalizing favorites like burgers, steak, pizza and salad, which can be accompanied by a scrumptious cocktail like a peach bourbon iced tea. Meanwhile, pups who come to visit can snack on items from a doggy menu that features a puppaccino, steak bites, grilled chicken, dog biscuits and steamed vegetables.

Hike to Dinner

Only outbound hounds will get the chance to join their owners at the Lake Agnes Tea House. The only way to reach this unique dining experience is on the Lake Agnes Trail, a moderate out-and-back hike. After trekking over two miles, find a table on the deck or relax at a spot overlooking the lake and order sandwiches, soup, fresh-baked bread and desserts. Quench your thirst before you hike back down or continue another three miles to The Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse, an even more secluded cafe in the Canadian Rockies of Lake Louise.

“Cookie? For me?” Photo by BringFido/Carmen Gale

Refuel in Banff

Bear Street Tavern in Banff is the ideal place to enjoy lunch before or after a trip into the park. Dogs are welcome to join their owners at a table under a shady umbrella on the courtyard patio. Diners can sip on a bear-sized cocktail and soak it up with a delicious pizza.

Lap Up With Your Lhasa Apso

Find a shady spot on the pet-friendly patio at Graze Food & Drink in Canmore, where Fido can cool off with a fresh bowl of water. Pick your favorite from tacos, burgers or poutine and wash it down with your local brew of choice.

Mountain Meals

If you’ve spent all day paddling around Maligne Lake at Jasper National Park, replenish those calories with a pizza from Juniper Pizza Pies food truck parked in the beer garden at Folding Mountain Brewing Taproom and Kitchen. Or, order a bite from the brewery like a Mountain Grilled Cheese or kimchi bruschetta. After deciding what to eat, grab a table surrounded by trees and enjoy the view with a pint of beer brewed onsite.

What is Fido’s favorite Canadian destination? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by iStock/s-eyerkaufer.