Kananaskis – AKA Hollywood North

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The Kananaskis area is well known for being a big and beautiful wilderness area where people go to explore the mountains and enjoy some serenity. It is also an area well known for being significantly quieter than the neighboring mountain towns of Banff and Canmore. But it’s not always a sleepy little village, there are secrets to be found in Kananaskis.

One of the best-kept secrets of Kananaskis?  Just how many movies are actually filmed out here.  And we are not talking cheesy B-roll sci-fi films. There are several giant Hollywood blockbusters filmed out here in Kananaskis every year.

The Revenant is one of the more famous movies filmed out here. After all, Leo finally won an Oscar for his performance! This movie caught a lot of attention for the way in which it was shot using natural light. The mountain landscapes were stunning and…  familiar if you’ve spent time in Kananaskis. You might recognize the scene in which Leo was walking down the middle of a frozen lake as Spray Lake or the scene at the end as Fortress (the old ski resort!).

Here are some other movies you might recognize:

It’s not just movies! Lots of commercials are filmed out here as well; typically car and beer commercials, although there was a ‘Drink Milk’ commercial filmed just outside of Canmore last year. I accidentally walked into a Coors Light commercial set earlier this winter at Boundary Ranch. I’ve never seen so much beer before in my life!

So why Kananaskis? Once you get up into the alpine environment here, it looks a lot like Alaska, but it is way easier to get to. The Calgary airport is an easy hour drive away on paved highways, so Kananaskis is extremely accessible. The scenery here is breathtaking, and there is a wide variety of landscapes, from mountain tops to alpine meadows, to the large lakes. Take a drive through Kananaskis at any time of the year and it is pretty clear why Hollywood loves Kananaskis.

There is no such thing as a dull day working or living in Kananaskis. Having actors and film crews come through renting mountain bikes or picking up a toque is an added fun bonus to living in such a beautiful spot. So next time you pass a guy on the trail who looks like Leonardo DiCaprio… take a second look!

Have you recognized Kananaskis in any of these films? Can you name any other films, tv shows or commercials filmed out here? Let’s hear in the comments!

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