By KYLEE PEDERSEN
From awe-inspiring national parks to fascinating historical sites, there is plenty to experience beyond the city limits. Take a quick day drive or plan a weekend away around a visit to one (or all!) of these must-see stops.
WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK
Nature has revived the prairies, shorelines and mountainsides of Waterton with new growth since the park was affected by the Kenow Wildfire at the end of summer last year. While some areas of the park remain closed, the Upper, Middle and Lower Waterton lakes, as well as the townsite, entrance road and Chief Mountain Highway, are open and ready to be explored. Camp, canoe, kayak, bike, hike, spot wildlife and take in the incredible natural beauty of the national park. Waterton is a three hour drive due south of Calgary.
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER
See Christopher Reeve’s Superman 3cape and take a seat in Tom Hardy’s Shinzon Captain’s chair at the eccentric Trekcetera museum in Drumheller, just an hour and a half northeast of Calgary. Canada’s only Star Trek museum goes beyond the final frontier to include a plethora of props and costumes from an array of films and artifacts from the Titanic and the U.S. 7th Cavalry. With experience on film sets and insightful anecdotes, the curator of the museum makes the displays at Trekcetera come alive.
In 1907 when the Leitch Colliery was opened it was considered the most cutting-edge mining operation in Canada. Although the mine was only in operation for ten years, the stone remains of the mine’s powerhouse invoke a once grand operation. Take a scenic drive south of Calgary along highway 22 to Crowsnest Pass to learn more about the lives of the miners who worked there, the surrounding town, and the untimely demise of the fruitful business.
FATHER LACOMBE CHAPEL
This small wooden chapel is Alberta’s oldest standing building, constructed in 1861 by the Métis community who lived in what is now St. Albert. The chapel was part of the Roman Catholic mission led by Father Albert Lacombe. Make the three-hour trip north of Calgary to get a tour of not only the chapel, but its accompanying crypt, grotto and cemetery.
If it’s natural history you’re looking for, don’t miss the geological wonder of the world’s largest known glacial erratic, located just south of Calgary near the city of Okotoks. Here, jutting out of the prairie horizon, sits 16,500 tons of quartzite; a massive rock formation which looks as if it has been dropped from the sky. But in fact, Big Rock got a ride from a glacier thousands of years ago and assumed its final resting place when the ice receded.