Along the Bow River in northwest Calgary are 74 acres of urban park, boasting bike paths, picnic tables, boating and skating on the lagoon, a wading pool, and even a mini-train.
Bowness Park began in 1911 on land donated by John Hextall, a local land developer, in the town of Bowness. It was a popular weekend retreat for Calgarians, offering excellent amenities, including a swimming pool, a carousel, camping sites, boating, and even a phonograph for music. Easy access by streetcar ensured that thousands of families could enjoy these outdoor leisure activities.
Over the years the park has been surrounded by the city and many of the amenities have changed. The swimming pool is gone, although you’ll now find an excellent wading pool, and the carousel has been relocated to Heritage Park. Of course, you can no longer camp at the park and the 2013 flood delayed and altered the restoration plans, as the park was covered in silt and strewn with debris after the water receded.
Thankfully, Bowness Park has been restored and revitalized and is still Calgary’s urban playground. Fast forward more than 100 years from its early days, and thousands of families still head to Bowness Park to enjoy the outdoors through every season of the year!
Pull out the bikes or rollerblades and hit the trails! Enjoy walking along the river (it will likely be the highest it is all year) and it will hopefully be warm enough to get rid of the gloves and enjoy the playground. Or, break out the soccer balls and get moving after a long winter.
Bowness Park shines in the summer. It’s a green oasis bringing outstanding recreation into our lives! The park has picnic tables, fire pits, bbq stands, and picnic shelters (picnic sites are also available for bookings) perfect for any gathering. On hot days, you can enjoy the wading pool. The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre operates mini-train rides through the park during the summer and also offers boat rentals on the lagoon. In peak months, the parking lot can get very busy, but during these busy times, overflow parking is offered at Baker Park, with free shuttle service to Bowness Park.
Fall can be a beautiful season in Calgary, so get out and enjoy the amazing fall colours at Bowness Park! It’s a popular place for family photos and kids can enjoy some time at the playground after getting the perfect shot.
Even in the winter, you’ll find lots to do at the park! Take a walk or cross-country ski on one of the many paths. Grab your skates (or you can rent skates) and go for a twirl on the lagoon and canal. Don’t forget to stop for a hot chocolate at the Tea House! The park often sets up places to try your hand at curling or even Crokicurl, a game that combines two iconic Canadian games. If you’re getting chilly, you can always warm up at one of the numerous fire pits.
No matter the season, Calgary, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the wonderful amenities at Bowness Park. There’s something for everyone and it’s the perfect way to create memorable family moments.
Hours: 5 am – 11 pm
Where: 8900 48 Ave NW, Calgary, AB