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10 Photo Scavenger Hunts in Calgary Parks

Calgary’s parks are full of natural and manmade wonders just waiting to be explored. And what better way to discover them than on a photo scavenger hunt!

With an abundance of gardens, sculptures, birdwatching, playgrounds, and snack spots, these mini photo adventures promise good times outside. Visit a different park each week in every quadrant of the city. If you’d like to do so, post your photo scavenger hunt findings/surroundings on social media to inspire your friends and family to get in on their own hunt and explore Calgary’s parks!

NORTHWEST

1. Dale Hodges Park,
tucked between an escarpment and the Bow River, recently won a national landscape design award for making stormwater management look good. The scenic park features wetlands, streams, and a pond that is perfect for birdwatching. Walk/bike 1.1 kilometres along the Bow River to the park entrance (look for a sign on your right), then head west to learn how various features treat stormwater.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Round lookout
  • Bridge
  • Round pond
  • Three kinds of birds

Parking: 2111, 52 Street NW.
Treat spot: Go for ice cream at Abbey’s Creations (4703 Bowness Road NW).

2.  Bowness Park is a family favorite with two playgrounds, a spray park, picnic areas with fire pits, lagoon, and Bow River views.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Giant ladybug
  • Train tracks
  • Canoe
  • Canada Goose
  • Bat boxes

Parking: 8900, 48 Avenue NW.
Treat spot: Seasons of Bowness Park (8900, 48 Avenue NW) is a full-service restaurant.

3. Nose Hill Park, one of Canada’s largest urban parks, has a huge network of trails to explore and tons of geocaches. As you ramble through rough fescue grassland and aspen forest, keep an eye out for deer, coyotes, and porcupines.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Dog Mural
  • Sun Wheel (directly south of the mural)
  • Stone labyrinth (north of the mural)
  • Cliffs
  • View of downtown

Parking: 5620, 14 Street NW.
Treat spot: Bliss & Co. (728 Northmount Drive NW #13A) has yummy cupcakes!

NORTHEAST

4. St. Patrick’s Island Park boasts a picnic area, cool playground, wading area, and awesome views of downtown. Bike here on the Bow River Pathway to avoid paying for parking.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Climbing wall
  • 23-metre high flower
  • Bridge fit for a King

Parking: 1300 Zoo Road NE (Calgary Zoo West Lot). The park is on the west side of the parking lot.
Treat spot: Get a chocolate croissant at Sidewalk Citizen (618 Confluence Way SE) on the south side of the bridge. Nearby East Village Playground is also worth a visit!

5. Prairie Winds Park is an awesome park with two playgrounds, a spray park, wading pool, BBQ areas, picnic shelters, fitness stations, soccer field, tennis courts, basketball courts, and cricket pitch.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Zipline
  • Stick forest
  • Gazebo
  • View from the top of the big hill

Parking: 223 Castleridge Boulevard NE.
Treat spot: Get donuts and an iced capp from Tim Hortons (3660 Westwinds Drive NE #101), then pick up delicious samosas from The Samosa Factory (55 Westwinds Crescent NE #135) for dinner.

SOUTHWEST

6. Edworthy Park’s Douglas Fir Trail
takes you through the ‘drunken forest’ (some trees are leaning over due to instability caused by underground springs), over bridges and up the stairs (good footwear required) to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Bow River. About 1 kilometre round trip. After a fun nature walk, enjoy Edworthy Park’s playgrounds, picnic sites with fire pits, picnic shelters, and fitness equipment near the north parking lot.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Purple dinosaur
  • Douglas Fir Trail Lookout
  • Edworthy Park gravel beach

Parking: Edworthy Park South Parking lot.
Treat spot: Angel’s Cafe (4105 Montgomery View NW) on the north side of the river is your place for coffee, yummy baked goods, and ice cream.

7. Elbow Island Park is a peaceful retreat just a hop, skip, and a jump from the hustle and bustle of 4 Street SW. Descend the Fish Ladder staircase and follow the dirt trail around the island (1.4-kilometre loop) to find art installations, watch birds, and bask in the sun. For a longer walk, head north on Mission Bridge, and go left on the Elbow River Pathway to find a small playground and Rideau Park suspension bridge.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Stone benches in a stream
  • Colorful wheelbarrows
  • Train bridge bench
  • Bonus: Minnows

Parking: Rideau Road SW & 5 Street (two-hour street parking). Access the park from the west side of Mission Bridge (4 Street between Rideau Road SW and 26 Avenue SW).
Treat spot: Pick up a decadent cake, chocolate croissant, or box of macarons from Yann Haute Patisserie (329, 23 Avenue SW).

8. South Glenmore Park, on the south side of Glenmore Reservoir, features an accessible playground and spray park, tennis courts, polo field, bike pump track (closed for construction), picnic area and shelter, and musical park. Head west on the paved path to visit the playground and Quinterra Legacy Garden musical park. Past the musical park is the turnoff to Jackrabbit Trail (on your right). The rolling, forested trail goes 3.1 kilometres to a beaver pond at the edge of Weaselhead Natural Area.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Xylophone
  • Chickadees
  • Sailboat
  • Bonus: Beaver pond

Parking: 8601, 24 Street SW.
Treat spot: Lakeview on 90 (2515, 90 Avenue SW) has an amazing assortment of gluten-free baked goods.

SOUTHEAST

9. Reader Rock Gardens is a provincial and national historic site, and it’s easy to see why. Pretty pathways wind through exquisite gardens and mature trees, past a stream and benches, leading you to the William Roland Reader’s former residence, which is now a café. Reader was the Superintendent for Calgary Parks from 1913 to 1942.

Find and snap a pic of:

  • Gazebo
  • Bridge
  • Stone pathway
  • Three kinds of flowers

Parking: 325, 25 Avenue SE
Treat spot: Get a sundae or Vienna apple strudel from Reader’s Garden Café.

10. Fish Creek Provincial Park protects riparian areas along Fish Creek and the Bow River. With 80 kilometres of trails, multiple picnic areas (many with fire pits), a mountain bikes skills park (Burnsmead Day-Use), and swimming area (Sikome Lake - day-use fee in effect), you could explore this park for days and not run out of things to do!

Visit Bow Valley Ranch and snap a pic of:

  • Gas lamp
  • William Roper Hull’s former home
  • Caballo, the holey horse
  • Balsam poplars (they have deep ridges in their trunks)

Parking: 15975 Bow Bottom Trail SE.
Treat spot: Annie’s Café (15985 Bow Bottom Trail SE) is known for its cinnamon buns, but they have smoothies and ice cream, too!

Happy exploring!

Karen is a mother and a lover of maps, mountains, and mochas. With her geography degree and experience leading hikes and backpacking trips in the Rockies, she is full of ideas on where to go and what to do. The mission of her blog, Play Outside Guide, playoutsideguide.com, is to provide everything families need to know to get outside and have fun. 




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