Okotoks is a community in the Alberta foothills’ Sheep River Valley, just 15 minutes south of Calgary’s city limits.
With the steady expansion of Calgary’s southern suburbs, it now almost feels like you haven’t left the city on a trip south to Okotoks, until you stop, get out of the car and look around a little.
The community of around 24,500 residents has distinctive shopping, three local golf courses, exceptional dining and plenty of recreational opportunities. This is also a very green community: it has done wonders with civic environmental initiatives, and strives to operate on an environmentally sustainable level.
The town’s name is a Blackfoot First Nation word for ‘rock’, referring to the world’s largest known glacial erratic stone just west of the town.
The first European settlers here set up trading posts in the late 1800s, as the area sat on the Macleod Trail trade route that existed between Calgary and Montana.
By 1897, the community’s name had changed three times: from Sheep Creek to Dewdney and finally to Okotoks.
Okotoks has a grand total of 91 parks, 48 playgrounds, 10 ball diamonds, 13 soccer fields, three tennis courts, three golf courses and track and field facilities. It also has a recreations centre with two indoor arenas, two pools, hot tub/sauna and six indoor curling sheets.
And that’s just in town; surrounding Okotoks is one of the best natural playgrounds you could ask for, with great hiking trails, bird-watching areas and fishing spots on the mighty Sheep River.
There are also a couple of local sports teams to cheer for including the Okotoks Oilers hockey team and Okotoks Dawgs baseball team.
The community has a number of schools at all levels, in public, Catholic and alternative school systems. Okotoks’ public school district is the Foothills School Division.
Okotoks sits just off of Highway 2. To reach it from Calgary, you can head south on either Deerfoot or Macleod Trail.
Southland Transportation also operates a regular commuter bus between Okotoks and Calgary on weekdays.
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