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.
Long before I started my blog, many, many years ago, I visited Innsbruck, Austria. I was on a Contiki trip through Europe and visited a plethora of locations such as Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Lucerne and Innsbruck, just to name a few. It was an incredible experience and one that I think was a transformative moment in my life.
Off the record (or, on the record now, I guess), of all the places I visited, the only one I didn't like was Innsbruck. I couldn't get into it. We visited it in late March, so the weather wasn't the best. The trees didn't have any leaves on them, the grass was brown, and everything had a post-winter grey look to it. After visiting Munich and spending the night in St. Goar, my mind wasn't thinking about Innsbruck at all. Instead, I was more excited to go to Venice the next day, and the Vatican the day after that. My time in Innsbruck was uneventful, and all I wanted was to get back on the road.
That was in 2011, and now it's 2018. Has my opinion on Innsbruck changed? I would say yes. I'm more mature now and if I went back, I would better appreciate what I was seeing. As I've gotten older, I've been less impressed by the massive buildings and more enthralled by the history that created them.
My article "8 Places to Visit in Regina" is by far my most popular article, being read over 7,000 times in the past 6 months. In honour of the anniversary of my blog (and because 1 of the 8 locations mentioned before is now closed), I decided to do a sequel and talk about 8 more places to visit in Regina. This was really easy as Regina is growing at an extraordinary rate and new, incredible places are opening almost every week.
After the Regina Cyclone huffed and puffed and blew down the majority of houses across the city in 1912, Annie Darke asked her beloved Francis Darke to build her a house that could withstand even the worse things Saskatchewan could blow at it. Being one of the richest and most influential men in Regina’s history, Francis Darke took up the challenge and began to create his wife their very own stone castle.
This massive fortress served as their dwelling for the remainder of their days, until Francis Darke passed away in 1940 and his widowed wife passed away in the very house he had built her, twelve years later.
Canada's 150th birthday cannot be complete without visiting the country's capital city... but which one should you visit? While Ottawa is the current capital of Canada, there have been four other capital cities, and it has changed seven times. It started in Kingston (1841 – 1844) and then moved to Montréal (1844 – 1849), believing it to be safer from the Americans. After the citizens of Montréal burnt it down, it rotated between Toronto (1849 – 1852 and 1856 – 1858) and Québec City (1852 – 1856 and 1859 – 1866). Finally, it was placed right on the border between the two provinces in Ottawa (1866 to present day). This tour ventures into each of these five cities and explores what makes them so unique.
Since the capital flip-flopped location seven times, it would be much more convenient to go through the cities geographically then historically. If we started in the West, we would start in Toronto, Ontario, Canada's biggest city. While G Adventures only mentions the CN Tower and Kensington Market, there is much more to see in this city. You could visit the 18th century Casa Loma Castle, stroll through the artistic Graffiti Alley, visit Ripley's Aquatic Aquarium, or go drink and dine in the Distillery District. Looking for more outdoorsy stuff? Check out the Toronto Islands, the famous High Park or the Toronto Zoo. You can even take a boat out onto Lake Ontario and see the city's iconic skyline!