Southern Alberta is a land of beauty and diversity, from the majestic Rocky Mountains to the rolling foothills and awe-inspiring Badlands, where history and natural forces have carved out the land and left legacies that stand the test of time. Southern Alberta is also home to three UNESCO heritage sites.
There are various rodeos throughout the region that are a highlight for many visitors. The Cowboy Trail, a scenic driving route that you can visit, is a good way to enjoy the many attractions in Southern Alberta.
Canadian history buffs can see a re-enactment of the early Northwest Mounted Police musical ride at Fort Museum in Fort Macleod; or learn about the clay industry at the Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District; or climb the last wooden tipple in Canada at the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site near the community of East Coulee.
Buffalo are an important piece of Alberta’s history, and herds thundered across the Prairies for thousands of years. At Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a world heritage UNESCO site, clients can learn the way the Blackfoot managed and used the buffalo as a resource for more than 6,000 years. They can also experience drumming and dancing at pow wows, held at various times through out the spring and summer. Or, visit Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, on the top of a hill overlooking a 2,424-hectare park with an ancient Mandan Earth Lodge. You can spend the evening touring the facility, then stay in an authentic teepee. Chief Crowfoot, signatory of Treaty Seven, is buried here.
Chief Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park, another notable UNESCO site in Southern Alberta, also is the world’s first International Peace Park. You can take a Waterton shoreline cruise, which crosses the border between Alberta and Montana. There is also Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park National Historic Site that is sacred to the Blackfoot culture and many Aboriginal tribes.
Moving further back in time, uncover the Cretaceous Period and the age of the dinosaurs in the Badlands. Dinosaur Provincial Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to unique rock formations. You can explore the dramatic landscape of the Red Deer River Valley, extending from Dry Island Buffalo Jump through the Drumheller Valley to the South Saskatchewan River near Empress. The landscapes and historical traces at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park are untouched by the last Ice Age.
Complete dinosaur skeletons have been discovered throughout the region. The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology near Drumheller contains the world’s largest collection of dinosaur skeletons. At Warner, the Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur Heritage Museum features a hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) nest and embryo.
In Southern Alberta, there is plenty for outdoor-lovers, too. The scenic treks at Crypt Lake in Waterton, are rated the third best in the world. Mountain biking is a favourite pastime and trails are also available for ATVs and off-road fun. In the winter season, the downhill skiing is world-class, and there are miles of snowmobile trails available in the Crowsnest Pass, along with cross-country ski trails that offer scenic beauty and a great workout.
Golf is a favourite activity in Alberta South, boasting a long season and a wide variety of top-10 rated golf courses for all skill levels.
Grandiose lakes, mighty rivers, abundant wildlife and untapped wilderness – Alberta North is truly one of Mother Nature’s secret gems. You can live large in the great outdoors or relive Alberta’s beginnings by touring small town museums and historic sites. Whether you like to travel by horseback, canoe, kayak, jet boat, ATV or snowmobile, Northern Alberta is the ultimate road trip with five unique regions to explore.
Athabasca Country: Only 90 minutes north of Edmonton, Athabasca Country is the gateway to northern Alberta adventure. From incredible lakes and sunny beaches to the stunning northern lights and golf courses to challenge the most avid golfer, Athabasca Country has a lot to offer. Take self-guided walking tour of the historic town of Athabasca or check out Black American history in Amber Valley.
The region’s other highlights include educational tours at Alberta Pacific Forest Industries, Athabasca University, Millar Western sawmill, Meanook Biological Research Station and Mr. V’s Field and Forest. Festivals include the award-winning Magnificent River Rats Festival and the Athabasca Fringe Festival.
Big Lake Country (Lesser Slave Lake): Big Lake Country is pretty Travel Albertamuch big at everything. Drained by Alberta’s largest recreational lake – Lesser Slave Lake – the region is the only one in Alberta where you can take advantage of relaxing uncrowded conditions and urban amenities.
Highlights include heritage sites like Grouard Native Cultural Arts Museum, High Prairie & District Museum, Kinosay Museum, Mosquito Lake Museum, St. Bernard Mission Church and Sucker Creek First Nation Cultural Museum, while outdoor recreation includes fishing, boating, birding, kayaking, canoeing and golf on four area courses.
Fort McMurray: Nestled in the boreal forest at the confluence of four rivers, Fort McMurray is rich in history and natural beauty that offer unparalleled vacation possibilities. History buffs can canoe the historic travel and trade routes followed by early trappers and explorers. Or discover the history, science and technology of Alberta’s Oil Sands at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre. Or tour Fort Chipewyan Bicentennial Museum and Fort McMurray Heritage Park. Outdoors, anglers can fish the pristine waters for walleye and northern pike; explore the sand dunes at Athabasca Dunes Ecological Reserve; hike through Wood Buffalo National Park; or just sit back and gaze at the Aurora Borealis.
Travel AlbertaGrande Prairie: The “Wild Side” of the area includes skiing, golfing, bird watching, hiking, fishing and off-roading to the famous Kakwa Falls. On the “Modern Side” spas, fine dining, art galleries, museums, concerts and year-round festivals entertain even the most discerning traveller. The top five things to do: walk the trail of Kleskun Hill Park, one of the last remaining native prairie and badland areas; tour Sexsmith Blacksmith’s Shop Museum; watch the village activities at South Peace Centennial Museum; hike through Muskoseepi Park; and join the free bison barbecues and Rotary bus tours.
Mighty Peace: A Beaver Indian legend says “Drink the water of the Peace River and you will return.” You probably don’t have to drink the water, the area’s attractions and amenities will call you back. There are more than 50 clear, clean lakes and rivers that offer a true northern fishing experience, as well as 200 species of songbirds and waterfowl to be spotted. Urban centres boast fine dining and modern hotels; there are, count ‘em, 16 golf courses; 17 museums; the world’s largest bee; the world’s largest railroad spike; Fort Dunvegan Historic Provincial Park; and Fort Vermillion, Alberta’s oldest community.