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April 2017

Top 5 outdoor activities around Red Deer

Red Deer

Author: Anthony Raspa, who works at Valhalla Pure Outfitters Red Deer.

Red Deer is situated between Edmonton and Calgary and has a growing population of just over 100,000 residents, making it Alberta's third most populated city. Located just 2.5 hours from the Rockies, Red Deer is a prime location for people with a "work hard, play hard" mentality. Locals constantly make the short drive to visit the never ending beauty that the Rockies have to offer. Whether it be an exciting day out hiking or an easy day out on the scenic boardwalks of Banff, the short drive is a small price to pay for people looking to escape the higher cost of living in the mountains. But Red Deer has plenty to do close to home as well. In no particular order, here’s a list of our top five favorite things to do in Red Deer:

1. Red Deer Trails

Red Deer offers a vast network of trails extending over 100 km. The trails are great to experience year round and perfect for commuting to work or for those looking to get some fresh air and exercise. These trails seem endless, constantly winding through the trees with beautiful views around every corner. Personally, I enjoy biking from Discovery Canyon towards Three Mile Bend, ending at Mckenzie Trail Recreation area. Once you make it to Mckenzie, be sure to watch the many unmarked trails that rome through the bush on either side of you. If biking isn't your thing, I recommend going for a leisure walk from Heritage Ranch to Bower Ponds. Along the trail you will encounter beautifully paved walking paths, plenty of vegetation, wildlife and the occasional sign with information typically related to the history of the area. Just before making it to the ponds you will come upon a large bridge that crosses the Red Deer River. This is a perfect place to enjoy some remarkable views and get great pictures from above the river. Not far from the bridge is where you end at Bower Ponds. The ponds offer a chance to sit down at the end of the walk, giving you time to relax while taking in the scenic ponds. We truly are lucky to have such an extensive network of trails here in Red Deer and I highly recommend exploring as much of it as you can!

2. Red Deer Parks

Located around Red Deer are many beautiful parks that have no shortage of outdoor activities. Chip a few golf balls at Great Chief Park with the mini 9 hole course, finished with a cozy fire with friends at the fire pits. Or head over to Discovery Canyon and check out the cool outdoor water tube park with the family! Red Deer even has two 9 hole disc golf courses! Visit Red Deer has a nice overview of all other golf courses around Red Deer on their website. For a bit of excitement check out the Red Deer bike park located on the north end of Red Deer. Fun, windy downhill trails along with big air jumps ensure a good time out for those daring enough, just be sure to wear a helmet! I’ve encountered it more than once where it was my head breaking my fall “hahaha”.

My personal favorite is to head down to Great Chief Park for an evening filled with slacklining, food and friends. If you plan on doing some slacklining, be sure to bring tree protection or “tree wraps,” as they prevent the line from peeling the bark from the trees. (I made a real nice line from 1” tubular webbing that I picked up from our Valhalla Pure store) Once the sun starts to set, head over to one of the many fire pits to enjoy some fire cooked food along with good conversations around the warmth of the fire. If you happen to ever see us at Great Chief Park, don't be shy, come say hello!

3. Paddling

For those looking to get out on the water, there are a few options nearby. The Red Deer river is the closests and extends through Alberta and a small portion of Saskatchewan; It supplies water to many towns and cities including, you guessed it, Red Deer. If you have the chance, I highly recommend getting out for a canoe or kayak on the Red Deer River as it offers fantastic views and plenty of bends. Don't have a boat you say? Valhalla Pure Outfitters has you covered. Our staff is very knowledgeable and we have a big selection of canoes and kayaks, both for purchase and rental! There are many waters to paddle close to town, but for people looking to get out for a few hours I recommend paddling from Three Mile Bend to Burbank Park, located just outside Blackfalds. The paddle time typically averages about four and a half hours, but is dependant on a few factors: river flow, paddle input, number of stops, wind, etc. The point where you end is easy to find as it's where a smaller part of the Red Deer river re-joins with the main, making it easy to spot. The Staff at Burbank Park are fantastic and don't mind people leaving a vehicle parked there while you paddle, but they do like to know when to expect you back as the park is gated and they need to make sure everyone is back on time and safe. (Leaving an itinerary on the dash of the vehicle is an easy way to ensure if anything unforeseen arises while out on your paddle, someone knows where to find you.) Although the river is typically easy going, please use good judgment as the river from time to time can be difficult to paddle with higher water levels.

For those of you looking to go overnight, I recommend paddling from Dickson Dam into Red Deer. This stretch takes two full days when the river is slow but offers an easy but exciting paddle, with the chance to really take in some beautiful views. Finding a good place to sleep on this stretch isn’t an issue as there are multiple opportunities to camp along water's edge on the way. This paddle is a great introduction to those looking to experience their first overnight paddle, but please remember, always plan ahead, let a friend or family member know where you plan on going BEFORE you go out, and always paddle in groups.

4. Outdoor clubs

Did you know, Red Deer offers a substantial amount of clubs catered to the outdoors? Although clubs don't necessarily relate directly to the topic of the“Top 5 Outdoor Activities to do in Red Deer,” they do however offer fantastic opportunities to get you outside. It amazes me how many people don't take advantage of these clubs and of what they have to offer, most people don't even know that they exist! Not only do you gain knowledge from these clubs, they give you the opportunity to meet likeminded people with similar interests. There are many different clubs for people interested in; hiking, mountaineering, caving, paddling and many more. The clubs are generally tailored for people of all ages and abilities. If you're in need of some information on such clubs, don't be shy, come down to Valhalla Pure Outfitters Red Deer where we have brochures and information on most clubs here in town!

5. Skydiving

On the weekends you’ll often find me out at the local dropzone playing in the sky with some close friends. For people in search of some extreme adventure, you can't miss out on the amazing experience Skydive Big Sky has to offer. Big Sky is located in Innisfail, just twenty minutes outside of Red Deer. They offer you the chance to strap yourself to a stranger, take a flight to 12500 ft and jump out of a perfectly good airplane, hurtling you and your new best friend 200 km/h back to the ground. If that's not enough, they offer a program called “Progressive Freefall” or PFF , where the student will progress through a series of jumps until the student has the knowledge and ability to jump alone or “solo”. So what are you waiting for? Skydive Big Sky offers a welcoming, knowledgeable, professional and easy going staff that can answer any questions you may have. Give them a call or check them out online at! Blue sky’s!

Situated close to the Rockies and having plenty to do close to home, Red deer offers something for everyone. Explore the parks and trails or paddle the river – you won’t be bored in Red Deer! Don’t hesitate to drop in at our Valhalla Pure Outfitters Red Deer store for more tips and information!