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southern alberta

5 Places Outside of Calgary to Visit This Summer

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.

Photo courtesy Michael Matt

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.

Photo courtesy Frank Slide Interpretive Centre

LEITCH COLLIERIES
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.

OKOTOKS ERRATIC
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.

 

 

Off the Beaten Path: Waterton Lakes National Park

By Alina Seagal

Waterton Lakes National Park (Photo: Alina Seagal)

Next time you want to hit an Alberta national park, think outside Banff or Jasper. Discover Waterton Lakes National Park, a four-hour drive through Kananaskis Country and wide-open prairies south of Calgary. (more…)

Inside the Piikani Nation Powwow

By ALINA SEAGAL

Photo: Alina Seagal

The Piikani First Nation is a small reserve in the corner of southern Alberta. In the wide-open Prairies countryside between Lethbridge and Waterton Lakes National Park, it’s no prime tourist destination, but thousands flock to it for the annual powwow. (more…)

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Southern Alberta

Every Friday we feature an inspirational travel photo of a Canadian destination taken by one of our readers.

Why we chose it: Skies in the Alberta Prairies need no embellishment, and this image of the UNESCO World Heritage site Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (where Northern Plains people once rushed bison off a cliff in a form of subsistence hunting) captures perfectly the awesome vastness of plains and wild blue yonder in this part of Canada. The cluster of tipis add a layer of interest to the image and provides scale. Plus, they firmly anchor you in this part of the country, where native heritage is as much a part of the landscape as the “wild West” cowboy culture. (more…)

Little City in the Prairies: Lethbridge, Alberta

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden (Photo: Travel Alberta)

By Laura Pellerine

You can almost imagine outlaw whiskey traders wandering through the streets of this former frontier town in southern Alberta, about a two-hour drive south of Calgary. (more…)

Southern Alberta Skies

Every Friday we feature an inspirational travel photo of a Canadian destination taken by one of our readers. Share your adventures by joining our Flickr Group so we can easily find you. We’ll credit you and link to your photo. If you have a particular theme you’d like us to showcase, let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Photo by Cody James

Why we chose it: Ever wonder what the fuss is about prairie skies? Calgary-based photographer Cody James removes the guesswork with his series of stirring photos of Alberta landscapes. The sky itself is a masterpiece, but it’s no easy feat to capture all of the nuances in those windswept clouds, the rays of light that illuminate the fields, and a sense of how quickly prairie storms roll in. Ominous conditions to be sure, but they make for excellent light!