Feb 16, 2021
We might not be able to travel abroad right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to be stuck inside. Grab your coats, check your tires, fill up your gas tank at your local Calgary Co-op store, pack some snacks, and take a day trip or road trip to experience all that Alberta has to offer.
Drive Cowboy Trail
Disconnect from technology and step back in time while enjoying this 105-kilometer trail. Starting out of Calgary, you can experience all the West has to offer.
Take Highway 22 South and hit Bragg Creek, where you can find plenty of outdoor activities, shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for something to warm you up after being outdoors, head to Turner Valley and take a tour of Alberta’s first independent craft distillery, Eau Claire Distillery, to sample some spirits and take the chill off the day.
Looking for the perfect gift? Head to Black Diamond and explore this artsy community. If you’re feeling hungry, stop by Marv’s Classic Soda Shop for a ‘50s style diner experience, complete with candy shop. Finish the road trip in Longview, where you can visit the Bar U Ranch National Historical Site. Take a tour of the ranch on a horse drawn wagon and learn about the rich ranching history of Canada. Don’t forget to grab the perfect road trip snack before you leave town at the world-famous Longview Jerky shop.
Explore Icefields Parkway
A bit of a longer or weekend road trip from Calgary, you can follow this 235-kilometer drive for some breathtaking scenery of turquoise lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers. Snap the perfect photos to share of your journey at Lake Louise, the first stop on the Icefields Parkway, just outside of Banff. Take the Lake Louise Gondola to look for grizzly bears and enjoy tea while taking in the spectacular views at the Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise. Get the perfect photo for social media by heading up the Parkway to stopping at Peyto Lake. After a short (and easy) hike to the viewpoint, capture stunning images of the otherworldly blue lake and surrounding evergreen landscape.
Enjoy Saskatchewan Crossing, where you can grab snacks and gas (or stay the night) at the Crossing resort.
Plan to spend some time at the Columbia Icefield and stop at the Glacier Discovery Center to explore the Athabasca Glacier and enjoy amazing views from the glass-floored observation platform at the Glacier Skywalk. Driving towards Jasper, stop to enjoy the Sunwapta and Athabasca Falls (which are very cool in the winter!), and then spend some time in Jasper where you can enjoy all that the National Park has to offer, including the SkyTram and many guided tours and hikes.
Circle the Canadian Badlands
This 228-kilometer trail takes you back millions of years, to when the dinosaurs roamed our province. Start at the Calgary Zoo’s Prehistoric Park exhibition to brush up on your prehistoric history, then head to Drumheller to the World’s Largest Dinosaur. Traveling through the Provincial Park, you can take an afternoon to explore the Royal Tyrrell Museum to see fine specimens from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Navigate Crowsnest Highway
Explore the history of mining on this 95-kilometer roadway. Starting in Fort Macleod take a self-guided tour of this historical town, then head to the Leitch Collieries to tour historic mining operations. While some may wonder about the excitement of viewing an old mine, the ruined sandstone buildings are hauntingly beautiful.
Afterwards, drive to Bellevue to take an underground mine tour, then learn about the Frank Slide through interpretive storytelling about one of Canada’s deadliest rockslides that swept away the highway and an entire town in minutes. Heading west to Coleman, walk around this historic mining town, highlights include the Historic Miners’ Path, Star Creek Falls, and the Crowsnest Museum.
Drive Deh Cho Trail
This longer excursion provides sweeping views of the Canadian wilderness and the chance to experience the Northern Lights. Start out in Edmonton, and enjoy trails along the North Saskatchewan River, and visit the Muttart Conservatory for rare lush botanical views in the colder months.
Head to Grande Prairie to explore the Muskoseepi Park, or visit the Phillip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum to tour the local bone beds and see many fossils.
To learn about Canada’s more recent history, visit the Dunvegas National Historic Site for interpretive tours about the history of the area’s First Nations. Find many fun sites and attractions along Hwy 2, and stop in High Level for camping to enjoy the beautiful northern skies.
Travel Kananaskis Trail
Enjoy the winter mountain landscape and disconnect while seeing this 300-kilometer trail. Begin in Cochrane at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary. Learn about wolves in the wild and the Sanctuary’s preservation efforts.
Afterwards drive to Kananaskis Village for food and gas, then head to the Boundary Ranch for views of buffalo. Spend a quiet afternoon nearby in Spray Valley Provincial Park at the Mount Engadine Lodge where you can sip tea and watch for elk, deer, and moose in the meadows below. Finish the journey in Canmore and stay for a few days to enjoy many different skiing, snowshoeing and hiking activities, including Grotto Canyon.
Tips for Traveling Safely
As always, please check all travel and weather advisories before and during your trip. Be mindful that some attractions may not be available due to weather or health safety reasons. Always prepare your vehicle for road trips by getting a maintenance check-up, keeping the proper tire pressure, and having chains packed in case you find yourself caught in deep mountain snow. Keep a first aid kit, flashlights, blankets, snacks, water and jumper cables. And remember to always let others know about your travel plans and share plenty of pictures upon your safe return.
Calgary Co-op gas stations will be transitioning to E10 ethanol blended gasoline on December 1, 2021*.
We all know Alberta’s reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the world with its badlands, prairies, glaciers, mountains, lakes, and vast forestland.
Most people forget all about their own backyards when planning vacations and getaways.