Top 10 Things to Do in Alberta
Alberta has got it all, from majestic mountains to rolling rivers and wide-open prairies capped by a beautiful blue sky. Here are the 10 sights you won’t want to miss, whether it’s adventure you seek or a little rest and relaxation.
Things to Do in Alberta: Lake Louise Ski Resort
Alberta is home to several major ski resorts, but Lake Louise is the largest and arguably the most beautiful. 4,200 acres of skiable terrain await every level of ability, and the hill offers free mountain tours to make sure visitors get the most out of their stay.
For non-skiers who still want to take in spectacular views of Lake Louise and Victoria Glacier, the gondola is available to whisk visitors to the top for some of the best sights in the Rockies. The mountain is also the only Canadian stop on the FIS Ski World Cup circuit and during this time the best skiers in the world can be found hurtling down the slopes.
Things to Do in Alberta: Banff Upper Hot Springs
Open year round, visitors can slip into the warm and soothing Banff Upper Hot Springs while taking in spectacular scenery at an altitude of 1,585m. First discovered by Europeans in 1884, but used by Canada's Native People far before, these historic springs have been wowing visitors for years. The hot springs are fed by 100% natural mineral water that travels over three kilometers into the earth's crust where it is heated and pressurized before making it's way to the surface. It's one memorable soak for visitors to the site where even the modern facilities are housed in historical buildings that date back to 1932.
Things to Do in Alberta: Royal Tyrrell Museum
One of the world's largest and best displays of dinosaurs can be found at this museum, which is a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in the ancient world. Surrounding the museum is an area known as the badlands - an eerily beautiful land of odd rock formations and striped hills full of dinosaur bones. The strange landscape only adds to the feeling of stepping into another time where dinosaurs roamed what was once a fertile jungle. If the life size exhibits aren't enough of a wow factor, workshops allow kids of all ages to get in on the action and include everything from casting fossils to digging up replicas.
Things to Do in Alberta: Boat Cruise on Maligne Lake
Spirit Island on Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park enjoys a worldwide reputation and is often synonymous with the Canadian Rockies. This tiny little island has a stand of lodgepole pine, and is surrounded by the bright blue waters of the second largest glacier fed lake in the world. Jagged snow covered peaks frame the picturesque scene and three glaciers are visible from the lake. Running from May to October, a boat tour is one of the few ways to get up close to this famous site.
Things to Do in Alberta: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump at Fort Macleod
Rising up from the Great Plains, this ridge of land was used as hunting grounds by aboriginal people for nearly 6,000 years. Keen hunters would round up herds of buffalo and drive them over the cliff, where they would then be butchered and their parts used in a variety of ways. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is buried right into the side of the cliff and is designed as a series of levels with each one dedicated to uncovering the extraordinary history of the people and the site. Discover a variety of artifacts, learn about Plains Native Tribes, and take in the vast open plain surrounding the museum.
Things to Do in Alberta: Calgary Stampede
For ten days every July, Calgarians throw on their cowboy hats and take part in the Calgary Stampede. Events include the richest outdoor rodeo in the world, agricultural programs such as horsemanship and sheep shearing demonstrations, and a grandstand show that has been wowing visitors since 1912. Thrill seekers of all ages can head to the midway for games and rides, and the Indian Village offers daily demonstrations and traditional dancing. There really is something for everyone, and it's no wonder they call it the greatest outdoor show on earth.
Things to Do in Alberta: Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers Game
Getting tickets to an NHL hockey game where the Calgary Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers is a special feat. The two sides only meet a few times a year and with both teams featuring die-hard fans, seats are sure to be in high demand. Rivals since the beginning, the matchup is known as the Battle of Alberta and at games the tension and tempers usually run high. Visitors during the summer can always take part in another rivalry - this time on the football field. The Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders are both CFL teams, and games between the two have just as much energy and passion.
Things to Do in Alberta: Red Rock Canyon
Lesser known than it's larger northern neighbours, Waterton Lakes National Park is a true gem located in the southwestern corner of the province. Driving to the park, prairie grassland soon gives way to rising peaks and beautiful lakes, which are usually free of large crowds but abundant with wildlife. Red Rock Canyon is a memorable part of any visit to the park due to its beautiful setting. Colourful red, green and white bedrock layers contain a crystal clear tumbling river of water. A short walk around the site contains interpretive plaques, and the adventurous can even walk along the bottom of the canyon in the cool water when safe to do so.
Things to Do in Alberta: Edmonton's Summer Festivals
Known as Canada's Festival City, Edmonton boasts some pretty impressive events year round. During the summer, residents shake off their winter coats and head outside to take part in two of the city's largest festivals - Edmonton Folk Music Festival and Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. Both are impressive - the Folk Festival is one of the world's leading events of it's kind attracting 80,000 eager music lovers to relax on the banks of the river valley and take in the sounds. For theatre lovers, the Fringe Theatre Festival is the second largest in the world attracting 500,000 visitors and 1,000 performers. With such variety and size, either event is sure to have something for every taste.
Things to Do in Alberta: Icefields Parkway
Running straight through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, the Icefields Parkway is an exhilarating drive full of towering mountains, glaciers, lakes and wildlife. Beginning in Banff or Jasper, this 232km route includes jaw-dropping views and scenic stops. Attractions include the Glacier Skywalk, opening in May 2014, which is a glass floored observation platform sweeping out over the Sunwapta Valley. Another traditionally popular stop, the Athabasca Glacier is easily accessible on foot or by tour in a giant all terrain vehicle. Even those who don't leave their car will have memories of blue water and snow capped peaks to last a lifetime.