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Right here’s a round-up of essentially the most wonderful 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 dust monitor in the midst of nowhere, my tyres spraying gravel as I crawled as cautiously as I might 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 fantastic panorama unfold earlier than me, pleasure changed the anxiousness and I fell – for maybe the hundredth time that week – in love with Alberta once more.
Alberta seems like journey personified! The province has the whole lot you can need from a visit to Canada. The Rockies – snow-capped and at all times splendid – stretching prairies, dramatic Badlands… the geographic variety of the province is simply staggering.
Over three visits to the Princess Province, I’ve explored many unbelievable Alberta locations. There are the plain – the well-known nationwide parks and cosmopolitan Calgary – however what I like about this province goes far past the mainstream. It’s the range, the richness of the differing landscapes.
Getting off the overwhelmed path is simple in a province with a lot to supply – and a lot house! So in addition to the extra fashionable “high 5”, I’ve rounded up a complete 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 at all times, all phrases and opinions are my very own.
Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, nevertheless it’s all too typically missed by vacationers. Which is a disgrace, as a result of the town is absolutely enjoyable – and it’s the right place to whereas away a few days earlier than hitting the nationwide parks!
I spent practically a complete week there a few years in the past and had a blast. Edmonton is a very cool, modern metropolis with hundreds 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 seek out out extra.
Elk Island Nationwide Park
Banff and Jasper aren’t the one nationwide parks in Alberta. Simply outdoors 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 right little countryside escape. Tenting or glamping in such a serene setting is an effective way to discover a really completely different aspect of Alberta.
Regardless of the identify, the park isn’t really 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 essential conservation efforts, that are important because the species was nearly 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 Bounce
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 Bounce.
Earlier than the Europeans got here and nearly wiped them out, North America was dwelling to some 30 million bison (aka buffalo). For the indigenous Blackfoot individuals, these bison herds have been 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 monumental 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 tough winter, and regardless of their magnitude, they didn’t have any impact on the species numbers.
The Interpretive Centre presents the possibility to be taught extra concerning the hunts, the historical past of the buffalo in Canada, and the tradition of the Blackfoot individuals. It’s a very fascinating web site and a must-see vacation spot in Alberta.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
If you wish to be taught extra concerning the Blackfoot individuals, head to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. Missed by the brooding Sweetgrass Mountains in neighbouring Montana, the park takes its identify from the petroglyphs that litter the large valley.
Literal writing – and drawing – on stone might be discovered everywhere in the valley, left behind by the Blackfoot individuals over 1000’s of years.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Delving even additional again into Canada’s historical past now, Dinosaur Provincial Park is maybe one of many lesser-known locations to go to in Alberta. The park is within the coronary heart of the Badlands, a powerful panorama of winding rocky gullies, twisted hoodoos, and layered sandstone rock.
That is Dinosaur Nation: Alberta’s Badlands have been as soon as dwelling to about 35 species of dinosaurs, and the 73 km² provincial park is among 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 dwelling 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 outdoors 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 wonderful. And with climbing trails setting off from the museum’s doorstep, you will get out into the spectacular surroundings simply.
FIND OUT MORE: Watch my Alberta Badlands Highway Journey video to seek out out extra about these unbelievable dino-themed Alberta locations.
Simply outdoors the town of Lethbridge, Fort Whoop-Up is a carefully-reconstructed reproduction of a Nineteenth-century buying and selling fort. Formally a fur buying and selling put up, the fort was additionally a part of the unlawful whisky commerce. It is a brilliantly hands-on take a look at Alberta’s newer historical past, showcasing what frontier life was like for early settlers.
Waterton Lakes Nationwide Park
Final however not least on this record of off the overwhelmed path locations to go to in Alberta is Waterton Lakes Nationwide Park. This was in all probability 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 find out about it, and Waterton may be very a lot “off the overwhelmed 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 shortage 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 among 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 straightforward to see why. Glittering glacial lakes, dense evergreen forests, snowcapped mountains… Banff seems like mom nature at her best possible.
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 a lot to draw guests, and that is additionally a extra “off the overwhelmed path” time to go to as you’ll share the park with far fewer vacationers. In each shoulder seasons, you may get pleasure from wealthy wildlife, epic climbing trails, and mind-blowingly fairly spots. These are a number of the greatest occasions of yr to go to hotspots like Lake Louise!
2. Jasper Nationwide Park
One other of the preferred locations to go to in Alberta is Jasper Nationwide Park. At 11,000 km², it’s the most important Nationwide Park within the Rockies, and covers some actually beautiful sights. Assume dramatic canyons, thundering waterfalls, and epic glaciers.
Like Banff, Jasper is especially fashionable throughout summer season and the winter ski season. However all yr spherical there are such a lot of wonderful adventures to have. Once more, spring and autumn are typically a lot quieter and provide a lot in the best way 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 crucial scenic driving routes on this planet, and nearly undoubtedly essentially the most spectacular street I’ve ever seen!
The street passes the Columbia Icefield, the place you may 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 rise up shut and private with a hike on the glacier itself. It’s a reasonably powerful 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 nearly appears to be like unnatural!
Calgary is the most important metropolis in Alberta and it’s typically the primary port of name for guests who fly into the Worldwide Airport there. It’s recognized for the well-known Calgary Stampede, however there’s a complete lot extra to the town than cowboy tradition. Though it’s a reasonably well-visited vacation spot in Alberta, there’s a lot to find in Calgary and it’s straightforward to have a extra “off the overwhelmed path” expertise there.
Stylish little neighbourhoods, vibrant road artwork, award-winning modern structure, artisanal breweries, wonderful meals, and a great deal of leafy outside areas… and that’s only for starters! Take a look at 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 very 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 absolutely helpful. In case you’re uncertain about driving overseas, Alberta is a superb place to strive it – learn all about my very own experiences right here!
High tip: you should definitely 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.