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Right here’s a round-up of probably the most superb locations to go to in Alberta – that can assist you plan your Canada journey wishlist.
Twenty minutes in and I used to be nonetheless juddering down a mud observe in the course of nowhere, my tyres spraying gravel as I crawled as cautiously as I may over one other hill. Coronary heart in mouth, each muscle poised able to leap onto the brake. However as I crested the ridge and one other great panorama unfold earlier than me, pleasure changed the anxiousness and I fell – for maybe the hundredth time that week – in love with Alberta over again.
Alberta seems like journey personified! The province has all the pieces you would need from a visit to Canada. The Rockies – snow-capped and all the time splendid – stretching prairies, dramatic Badlands… the geographic range of the province is simply staggering.
Over three visits to the Princess Province, I’ve explored many unbelievable Alberta locations. There are the apparent – the well-known nationwide parks and cosmopolitan Calgary – however what I really like about this province goes far past the mainstream. It’s the variety, the richness of the differing landscapes.
Getting off the crushed path is simple in a province with a lot to supply – and a lot house! So in addition to the extra standard “high 5”, I’ve rounded up an entire bunch of less-visited spots and hidden gems so that you can add to your Canada journey wish-list.
This information to the very best locations to go to in Alberta was sponsored by Discover Canada as a part of their #ForGlowingHearts marketing campaign. However, as all the time, all phrases and opinions are my very own.
Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, however it’s all too typically ignored by vacationers. Which is a disgrace, as a result of the town is de facto enjoyable – and it’s the proper place to whereas away a few days earlier than hitting the nationwide parks!
I spent practically an entire week there a few years in the past and had a blast. Edmonton is a extremely cool, modern metropolis with masses to maintain guests busy. Quirky neighbourhoods, segway excursions alongside the river, an superior meals scene… even a rollercoaster inside a shopping center! There’s a lot to see and do, so take a look at my information to Edmonton to search out out extra.
Elk Island Nationwide Park
Banff and Jasper aren’t the one nationwide parks in Alberta. Simply exterior of Edmonton you’ll discover Elk Island Nationwide Park, a 194km² space of prairies, meadows, aspen forests, and lakes. It’s a lot much less visited than the extra well-known parks, however presents the proper little countryside escape. Tenting or glamping in such a serene setting is a good way to discover a really completely different aspect of Alberta.
Regardless of the identify, the park isn’t truly an island in any respect. There are additionally far fewer elk than there are bison. In actual fact, the park has been engaged on some actually vital conservation efforts, that are very important because the species was virtually pushed to extinction by European settlers within the late 1800s. Be it bison, elk – and even wolves – you’re certain to see loads of wildlife on a visit to Elk Island.
Head Smashed in Buffalo Soar
Talking of bison, there’s no higher place to study Canada’s lengthy and complex historical past with these magnificent creatures than Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Soar.
Earlier than the Europeans got here and virtually wiped them out, North America was house to some 30 million bison (aka buffalo). For the indigenous Blackfoot folks, these bison herds have been very important to on a regular basis life and survival. In Alberta there have been a number of “Buffalo Jumps”, clifftop websites the place the Blackfoot as soon as held huge mass hunts.
They’d rile the buffalo up right into a stampede and run the entire herd off the sting of a cliff, earlier than harvesting each a part of the creature. The annual Jumps would see the tribe via the cruel winter, and regardless of their magnitude, they didn’t have any impact on the species numbers.
The Interpretive Centre presents the prospect to study extra in regards to the hunts, the historical past of the buffalo in Canada, and the tradition of the Blackfoot folks. It’s a extremely fascinating web site and a must-see vacation spot in Alberta.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
If you wish to study extra in regards to the Blackfoot folks, head to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. Ignored by the brooding Sweetgrass Mountains in neighbouring Montana, the park takes its identify from the petroglyphs that litter the extensive valley.
Literal writing – and drawing – on stone will be discovered everywhere in the valley, left behind by the Blackfoot folks over 1000’s of years.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Delving even additional again into Canada’s historical past now, Dinosaur Provincial Park is probably one of many lesser-known locations to go to in Alberta. The park is within the coronary heart of the Badlands, a formidable panorama of winding rocky gullies, twisted hoodoos, and layered sandstone rock.
That is Dinosaur Nation: Alberta’s Badlands have been as soon as house to about 35 species of dinosaurs, and the 73 km² provincial park is likely one of the richest fossil websites on this planet. Guests can take a guided hike or bus tour to discover the dramatic panorama, recognizing fossils and dinosaur bones on the bottom.
In one other a part of the Badlands, the small city of Drumheller is house to the world’s largest dinosaur. A 26m excessive mannequin of a t-rex towers over the customer centre carpark, giving guests a singular welcome.
Simply exterior city is the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology. Even in the event you solely have a passing curiosity in dinosaurs, the gathering of fossils right here is superb. And with climbing trails setting off from the museum’s doorstep, you may get out into the spectacular surroundings simply.
FIND OUT MORE: Watch my Alberta Badlands Street Journey video to search out out extra about these unbelievable dino-themed Alberta locations.
Simply exterior the town of Lethbridge, Fort Whoop-Up is a carefully-reconstructed duplicate of a Nineteenth-century buying and selling fort. Formally a fur buying and selling submit, the fort was additionally a part of the unlawful whisky commerce. It is a brilliantly hands-on take a look at Alberta’s more moderen historical past, showcasing what frontier life was like for early settlers.
Waterton Lakes Nationwide Park
Final however not least on this listing of off the crushed path locations to go to in Alberta is Waterton Lakes Nationwide Park. This was most likely my private favorite discovery within the province. Tucked away in a quiet nook of southwestern Alberta, proper on the border with the USA, Waterton Lakes seems like Banff and Jasper’s lovely child sister.
Though quite a bit smaller than its extra well-known cousins, the park additionally feels extra secluded. Solely locals appear to learn about it, and Waterton could be very a lot “off the crushed path” when in comparison with the better-known nationwide parks. However the Rockies are the identical, the beautiful landscapes are the identical, and the vividly blue glacial lakes are the identical, too.
The dearth of crowds additionally means there’s extra probability of recognizing wildlife. Deer simply wander via the city streets, and I needed to brake for a wolf crossing the street as I used to be driving in! On a ship tour of Higher Waterton Lake we noticed a mom and child moose. I even noticed a black bear as I used to be climbing the Bertha Lake path!
This small, cosy nationwide park is ideal for household holidays to Canada – particularly in case your children are wildlife followers!
1. Banff Nationwide Park
Banff is likely one of the two most well-known Nationwide Parks in Alberta. That is the place a LOT of holiday makers to the province are headed – and it’s simple to see why. Glittering glacial lakes, dense evergreen forests, snowcapped mountains… Banff seems like mom nature at her absolute best.
The park covers 6,641 km² alongside the japanese slopes of the well-known Rocky Mountains. In winter, vacationers flock to the mountain resorts for snowboarding and snowboarding within the Rockies, whereas summertime tempts with sunny climate and spectacular climate.
However throughout spring and autumn, there’s nonetheless loads to draw guests, and that is additionally a extra “off the crushed path” time to go to as you’ll share the park with far fewer vacationers. In each shoulder seasons, you possibly can take pleasure in wealthy wildlife, epic climbing trails, and mind-blowingly fairly spots. These are a few of the finest occasions of yr to go to hotspots like Lake Louise!
2. Jasper Nationwide Park
One other of the most well-liked locations to go to in Alberta is Jasper Nationwide Park. At 11,000 km², it’s the biggest Nationwide Park within the Rockies, and covers some really beautiful sights. Assume dramatic canyons, thundering waterfalls, and epic glaciers.
Like Banff, Jasper is especially standard throughout summer season and the winter ski season. However all yr spherical there are such a lot of superb adventures to have. Once more, spring and autumn are usually a lot quieter and supply loads in the way in which of journey. From glacier climbing, to canoeing and kayaking on the beautiful lakes, to climbing and canyoning. It doesn’t matter what your limits, journey and unbelievable surroundings await in Jasper Nationwide Park.
3. Icefields Parkway
Connecting the city of Jasper with Banff’s Lake Louise, Freeway 93 North is healthier generally known as the Icefields Parkway. That is simply one of the vital scenic driving routes on this planet, and virtually positively probably the most spectacular street I’ve ever seen!
The street passes the Columbia Icefield, the place you possibly can cease to view the Athabasca Glacier. The Glacier Sky Stroll presents unbeatable views of the icefield from on excessive, however it’s also possible to stand up shut and private with a hike on the glacier itself. It’s a reasonably robust hike so that you want a information and correct gear.
One other unmissable cease alongside the Icefields Parkway is the viewing level above Peyto Lake. Head as much as Bow Summit for a view of the wolf-shaped lake, which is so vividly blue it virtually seems to be unnatural!
Calgary is the biggest metropolis in Alberta and it’s typically the primary port of name for guests who fly into the Worldwide Airport there. It’s identified for the well-known Calgary Stampede, however there’s an entire lot extra to the town than cowboy tradition. Though it’s a reasonably well-visited vacation spot in Alberta, there’s loads to find in Calgary and it’s simple to have a extra “off the crushed path” expertise there.
Fashionable little neighbourhoods, vibrant road artwork, award-winning modern structure, artisanal breweries, superb meals, and a great deal of leafy outside areas… and that’s only for starters! Try my round-up of 14 Enjoyable Issues to do in Calgary to assist fill just a few days within the metropolis.
Attending to Alberta from the UK is really easy! There are continuous flights from London to each Calgary (9hr 15min) and Edmonton (8hr 40min).
As soon as there, I like to recommend renting a automotive to discover the province at your leisure. There’s a lot to see so having your personal automotive is de facto useful. If you happen to’re uncertain about driving overseas, Alberta is a superb place to strive it – learn all about my very own experiences right here!
High tip: make sure you apply for and buy an official Canadian Authorities ETA earlier than you guide your tickets. There are a great deal of websites providing numerous variations of it, however all you want is the official authorities one which prices $7.50. Anybody charging greater than this isn’t the official web site! Discover out extra at www.canada.gc.ca/immigration.