Four Places to Escape the Heat in Southern Alberta
Four Places to Escape the Heat in Southern Alberta July 19, 2018 · 9 min. readWhile the thoughts and opinions are my own, this article was brought to you by a third party. Also, this article may contain affiliate links.
For many of us in Saskatchewan, summer means it's time for an Alberta road trip. Although the endless stretches of prairie have their appeal, there is nothing quite like seeing the mountains rising over the horizon.
One challenge that comes with taking a summer road trip is the heat. Much like on this side of the border, it isn't uncommon for summer temperatures to get to the extreme. I know a few people who have had car problems in the heat, and my family is one of them. Nothing ruins a trip more than an unexpected visit to the mechanic.
Thankfully, Alberta has a myriad of places to go swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding or fishing. This not only gives your vehicle time to cool off, but also gives you a chance to escape the heat as well.
One of the closest – and one of my favourite – places to escape the summer heat is Medicine Hat. While this city is situated in a desert, thanks to the mighty South Saskatchewan River, it's also an oasis waiting to be explored. The river spawned a variety of parks alongside it, giving tourists and locals alike a chance to get out and splash around in the water.
If you go for a trip down the river, you'll pass by the gorgeous Riverside neighbourhood, and float beneath the shadows of the towering bluffs, carved during the last Ice Age. For those not afraid for a good photograph, you can also float under the historic Finlay Bridge, which was built in 1908 and still stands today.
About an hour outside Medicine Hat you will come across the community of Brooks. For many tourists, this is just another town on the long drive to the Rockies. For the adventurous souls however, this is the turnoff to Lake Newell Resort.
One of the surprising things about Lake Newell is that it's man-made, and that it's one of the largest lakes in southern Alberta. Another surprise is that this lake even has its own lighthouse.
Although miniature in size, this lighthouse is an impressive testament to the sheer size of the lake, and to the wide variety of activities that happen on the water.
Southern Alberta – Lake Newell and Medicine Hat included – is considered a desert due to its arid climate and plentiful rattle snakes. In the heart of the heat however is Lethbridge. Like Medicine Hat, Lethbridge also grew up around a river, but unlike Medicine Hat, it is also home to its very own lake.
Henderson Lake provides ample opportunity to take a break from the heat and relax. Here you can watch dragon boats racing, go kayaking and even go golfing at the nearby golf club. There is also the nearby Henderson Pool, which is an outdoor pool with waterslides, diving boards and a climbing wall. There's also a kid's park, a green area for picnics, and smaller slides for children.
An hour and a half south west of Lethbridge is Waterton Lakes National Park. Home to the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel, this national park has some of the most beautiful sights in all southern Alberta. I visited this park several times growing up, and I have fond memories of horseback riding through the mountains, seeing wild deer wander through the hamlet and hike around the nearby Cameron and Lower Bertha Falls.
In 2017 the park was struck by a horrendous forest fire, that threatened not only the park and hotel, but the natural tranquility of the area. Thankfully, firefighters were able to control the fire and push it back before it caused too much damage to the town. While the park is recovering, but it's important to remember that this isn't the first time the park was devested by a fire. A century earlier, a similar fire fore through the area, and the park bounced back just fine. In fact, it's this constant cycle of rebirth that draws visitors ever single year.
One of my most favourite things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park is crossing the lake into the United States. On side of the lake is Waterton, but on the other side is Glacier National Park. Together these two parks became the first ever International Peace Park in 1932. To cross the border, you need to take the MV International, a 91-year-old vessel, which was built the same year as the Prince of Wales Hotel. As you venture across the water, keep an eye on the treelines. At the border there is a break in the trees that continues all the way up the mountain. This is a stark reminder that Canada and the United States has the longest undefended border in the world.
I've wanted to visit the Battlefords in Saskatchewan for a few years now. As somebody who loves history, just to visit a city that once housed the capital of the North-West Territories is reason enough. I'm sure I've passed through the city when I was younger, but I've never had the chance to explore it as an adult.
My interest in both cities grew when I was doing research for my 2017 article, "6 Saskatchewan Cemeteries to Visit This October". One individual I interviewed for the article was Don Light of the North-West Historical Society. Light was tasked with the sensitive job of moving about eighty graves within The Battleford Cemetery. Relocating graves is always the last option when it comes to a cemetery, but in this case, they had no choice. The Battleford Cemetery sits on the edge the North Saskatchewan River, and the banks of the cemetery were slowly eroding. Had the graves been left undisturbed, headstones, monuments and caskets would start falling into the roaring river below.
Light and I had an excellent chat that day and he told me many fascinating stories about what they found when they were moving the graves. Some of the graves he had to move were Metis graves, all while under the supervision of police and Indigenous professionals. Many of these caskets had rotted and were open, and they found a plethora of Roman Catholic crosses and First Nation beadwork, a sign of traditional Metis culture.
I don't often take blog requests, but a friend approached me recently and asked about Venice. He's traveling to Italy for a wedding this summer and is stopping in Venice for few days. He asked me if I knew what he could do in the Floating City, so I racked up a list of ten things for him to see.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if I missed anything, what your favorite thing to see in Venice was, or if you plan to go visit Venice after reading this!
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.