These days, Calgary—that Canadian provincial capital some 200 miles north of Montana—is a modern boomtown, with a skyline rising in lockstep with domestic oil and gas frenzy. Visitors here tend to be all business: Morgan Stanley types, energy speculators from, say, China or the United Arab Emirates.
Not that Canada’s fourth-largest city isn’t also trying to lure the more leisure-focused. Do you like fancy book palaces with fritted glass panels and jewel box reading rooms? Snøhetta designed the city’s glittering new Central Library. Prefer giant pandas? Four furry friends just moved into the Calgary Zoo. Or how about horses? July’s Calgary Stampede is one of the world’s largest rodeos.
But for most tourists flying into Calgary, the real destination is about two hours beyond. From here, many head west to the storybook mountain châteaus, hot springs, and glacier-packed national parks around Banff. Others drive east, to the rugged Canadian Badlands.
For Portlanders, access to all of the above could get a lot cheaper with WestJet’s April 29 launch of seasonal direct service from PDX to YYC. The budget airline’s new route to Cowtown will compete with Air Canada’s existing service—and as any crusty oilman will tell ya, it’s good to be on the right side of a buyer’s market.