Explore Alberta: Our Top 10 Must Visit Places
If you're going to explore any place in this large world of ours, Alberta has to be one of the most diverse and beautiful locations to do it. From snow-capped mountain vistas anchored by waterfalls to cities with lively food and art scenes Alberta is has something for everybody usually only within a few hours' drive of each other. Here are a few of our favourite locations to explore this summer in Alberta.
Only about a 45-minute drive from the City of Calgary, Kananaskis, or K-Country as it is often referred to as is a great location for a day drive or a for a weekend of camping. K-Country has some great hiking trails that offer challenges for varying levels of expertise, all surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. and a variety of paths suited for both mountain biking and horseback riding, with several companies in the area offering equipment rentals.
When in K-country make sure to check out Elbow falls located about 10-minutes from the town of Bragg Creek, it features some easy walking paths that will take you up close to the falls and are located quite close to several campgrounds for those looking to stay overnight. Also with the available picnic tables, this is a great spot to have lunch with the family before continuing to explore nature at her finest.
Other great locations to check out in Kananaskis include Mount Engadine & the Moose Meadows, Rawson Lake, Mesa Butte, and the Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes.
Suggested Vehicles: For the most part the roads around Kananaskis are well paved with minimal potholes, though you are not going to escape without having to go on a gravel road now and then or even off-road for some of the more advanced trails. We would recommend a vehicle with AWD or 4x4 capability, such as the Ford Line of SUV's or Trucks.
Banff National Park
You can't do top places to explore in Alberta list without including Banff National Park on the list, this is the National Park that started it all for the parks system way back in 1885. This 6,641 square kilometres of land located 2 hours north-west of Calgary offers a wide range of camping or hotel options as well as some of the best hiking and site seeing options in the world. You will also find options for both boating and scuba diving in the park as well. The park is also home to a wide range of wild-life so make sure to keep an eye out.
Most of the main attractions of Banff can be found within a quick 5-30 minute drive from the townsite. Some of our favourite spots include Lake Minnewanka, a glacial lake that is home to an underwater ghost town that can be seen by scuba diving the lake, that also offers some amazing views of the night sky, and the northern light if you're lucky. Johnston Canyon, home to a hiking trail that varies in difficulty for an easy walk to a more advanced day hike, the canyon is home to some picturesque waterfalls and paint pots as well as some very interesting rock formations. Finally the Cave and Basin plus the hot springs, it here that the story of Canada's National Park system begins, you can see the thermals that attracted people from all around to the park plus engage in some pretty interesting history. While these hot springs are closed to the public 5 minutes up the road you can visit and still use the upper springs, or take a ride on the gondola up the side of Sulpher mountain.
Suggested Vehicles: The town-site is very vehicle friendly and a lot of the trails have easy to access parking lots if you are planning on taking the hotel route, the Ecosport or Escape will be the best be for underground parkades where space can be limited, the added benefit of all-wheel drive will also come in handy if you decide you're up for a bit of a mountain adventure. If camping is more your speed, the Ford F-350 with a camper is going to make your Alberta exploration experience even better. If you are interested in renting one of these for your next adventure make sure to check out our friends at CanaDream who can put you in the perfect rental for you.
Lying under the watch of the Three Sisters Mountain Range, just before you enter Banff you are going to find the town of Canmore, the perfect place for a day trip if you are not looking to go to Banff or a fantastic pit stop on your way into the park, I can think of many great memories that started at the Canmore McDonald's for breakfast, but needless to say Canmore is more than just a McDonald's ;). You are going to find some of the best restaurants and breweries (that off non-alcoholic options for the driver.) that Alberta has to offer. You will also find some great hiking trails where you have the chance to see the mining history of the past, or if you are a bit more experienced some of the cave systems in the mountains.
Suggested Vehicle: Truck or SUV both are going to handle well on the streets of Canmore, but remember when looking for parking a smaller vehicle may be the best bet, though our choice for Canmore driving is going to go to the Ranger or the Edge. With the Ranger giving you the size advantage without giving up too much space or power, and the proudly made in Canada Edge giving you and your family the comfort that you need for that weekend out of town.
If you travel for a few hours south-west of Calgary you will find yourself in the beautiful Crowsnest Pass. This municipality former mining towns and villages offer some breathtaking and awe-inspiring views as well a culturally significant look into the history of early Alberta. There is a lot of great camping to be found in the area as well as biking, and hiking trails, and interpretive centres to familiarize yourself with the history of the area. Make sure to stop at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre to learn about the night that Turtle Mountain came crashing down, or camp near the beautiful Lundreck Falls. As you drive out there make sure to keep an eye out for the abandoned collieries, and mine sites scattered around.
Suggested Vehicle: Most of the prime locations are located along the Crowsnest Highway so you should be good travelling in any vehicle that you feel comfortable with. If you are planning on going camping or on the hiking trails in the area we would strongly recommend a vehicle with AWD or 4X4 capabilities like the F-150 or the Escape.
Located in the most Southwest of the province is Waterton Lakes National Park, this national park offers the opportunity to check out some of the most diverse landscape in Alberta featuring wide open mountain lakes, red rock canyons, and some of the best hiking, camping and fishing in the province Waterton is definitely a must-visit when you are exploring Alberta. When you'rs in Waterton make sure to take some time and check out the Hamlet of Waterton Park, hike the Red Rock Canyon, or take in the beauty of Cameron Fall (which sometimes turns bright pink in the right conditions).
Suggested Vehicles: If you plan to make the most of Wateron's hotels, or B&B's you the compact EcoSport with AWD is going to be the way to go. This little SUV is great on gas and great for space, plus the All-wheel drive will help you make the most out of getting to any hiking locations that might be a bit off the beaten path. If you are planning on going deeper into the woods or camping the Ford Ranger or F-150 is strongly recommended.
Jasper National Park
It's the world's 2nd largest dark sky preserve, only beaten out by another entrant on our list, it features mountain-top sky walkways, a skytram, icefield tours, fantastic wildlife viewing, and great cuisine. There is a good chance if your heart desires something specific out of a mountain experience Jasper National Park can offer it to you. Located between Banff and Edmonton this national park is perfect for hikers and foodies alike, you will find something to fall in love with in this park. We here would personally recommend checking out the Columbia Icefields or Skytram, plus find a great camping spot to watch the sunset and the perfect view of the night sky unobscured by light pollution.
Suggested Vehicles: The nice thing about Alberta is that the road system is well suited for pretty much any vehicle that you throw at it, we of course think the best vehicle for the job is a Ford. That being said when visiting Jasper National Park our top choice for your trip would be the redesign Ford Explorer, this vehicle is perfect for any conditions you may experience and will let you travel in both comfort and style on and off-road.
The Badlands have never looked so good! Located about 90 minutes east of Calgary, Drumheller is the dinosaurs lovers' dream! The Dinosaur Capital of the World is home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum where you can see some of the world's best-preserved dinosaur fossils, or live paleontologists hard at work on specimens. Make sure to take a walk into the townsite and see the world's largest dinosaur standing 86ft. tall. Finally, check out the hoodoos and take a trek along the hoodoo trail. With camping, hotels, and many other sites to see Drumheller and the badlands is a wonderful place to explore in Alberta.
Suggested Vehicle: Once again you can't really go wrong with your vehicle choice but the proudly made in Canada Ford Edge is once again king for your trip through the badlands. It's wide array of options plus adaptive all-wheel drive will make easy work of the transition between gravel roads and town roads. Plus is extra is is perfect for any dinosaurs that may need to hitch a ride ;).
Wood Buffalo National Park
Larger than Switzerland, it's a UNESCO World Heritage site, the world's largest dark sky preserve, and the most ecologically complete and largest example of the entire Great Plains-Boreal grassland ecosystem in the world. This all located in the north most tip of the province in Wood Buffalo National park, it is the outdoors person's wildest dream come true. Take strolls along secluded forest trails, or a rugged canoe trip this open wilderness is yours to explore. With plenty of camping locations wildlife viewing opportunities, this national park is the perfect place to get lost for a couple of days or a couple of weeks.
Suggested Vehicle: Your best bet to tack the wild grasslands of northern Alberta is going to be in a Ford truck the F-150, or the Ford F-350 with a camper is going to make your Alberta exploration experience even better. Again if you are interested in renting one of these for your next adventure make sure to check out our friends at CanaDream who can put you in the perfect rental for you.
The must-visit spot in Calgary is of course Woodridge Ford!... Sorry, couldn't resist the shameless plug, even if popping by and saying hello isn't in the cards for you on your trip exploring Calgary the city is filled to the brim with things to do. From sightseeing, it's stunning world-class architecture and museums to a lively downtown core where you can take a stroll along the riverfront Calgary offers a rich tapestry of what the west has to offer. While here make to check out the world-class restaurants or craft breweries, or take a walk through one of the cities many beautiful parks.
Suggested Vehicle: While your truck will not look out of place on the streets of Calgary if you're venturing into the downtown core the ford Escape or the Ecosport will be more parking friendly and make your trip a breeze especially if parking in an underground parkade.
Edmonton is a great city to visit with your family, offering a wide variety of experience no matter what your interest is. Alberta's capital offers a wide range of activities from the Royal Alberta Museum or the Art Gallery of Alberta to the Alberta Legislature. Though for the shopping fanatic will love West Edmonton Mall home to over 800 stores and services including an indoor waterpark and amusement park as well as the world's largest indoor lake. Along with its fantastic views of the river valley, Edmonton is also home to a vibrant fine dining experience, make sure to explore Edmonton for yourself.
Suggested Vehicle: Like Calgary, while your truck will not look out of place if you're venturing into the downtown core, or visiting the mall, or museums, the Ford Escape or the Ecosport will be more parking friendly option for your trip exploring what Edmonton has to offer.