Calgary is right where the prairie meets the Canadian Rockies, so your view varies considerably just depending the direction you’re facing. To the south and east, it’s flat as a pancake, but if you look west, the mountains tower above the city. Its elevation is about 3400 ft above sea level. Calgary is very large for its population, covering 278 square miles, bigger than Chicago despite having less than a third of the population. Most of the “suburbs” of the city are incorporated into Calgary itself, which helps explain the spread.
The Bow River flows from the west of the city through downtown and then exits to the south. The Elbow River flows into downtown from the south where it converges with the Bow River.
Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is the closest big city to Calgary, about 200 miles due north. The two cities are often rivals in different sports. Vancouver is the next closest of Canada’s major cities, 450 miles to the west. Calgary is a little east of Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, the largest park in Canada, so if you enjoy spending time outdoors, this is a great city.
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