Four Places to Escape the Heat in Southern Alberta

Four Places to Escape the Heat in Southern Alberta July 19, 2018 · 9 min. readDisclaimer: While 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.

Stay a night & see a sight, build your #BucketlistAB.

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.

Water fun in Medicine Hat

Although many tourists pass through Medicine Hat on their way to the mountains, there's so much to do in "The Hat" that even returning locals are surprised what this city has to offer.

Medicine Hat

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.

Newell Lighthouse

For those who like to sit by the beach and soak up some rays, the beaches around Lake Newell are soft, smooth and virtually untouched. For those who like to get wet, the beaches also have places to swim, kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle. There are also places to fish in the lake too, as the lake is stocked with hundreds of thousands of fish.

Lake Newell Lake Newell

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.

Kayaking in Lethbridge

If you're looking to escape the city altogether, Old Man River winds through the city, and is the perfect place to kayak, canoe, and float down under the impressive – and very Instagram worthy – Lethbridge Viaduct.

Lethbridge Viaduct

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.

Prince of Wales Hotel Mountains around Waterton

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.

MV International by Waterton

For those looking to spend the night in this picturesque park, be sure to also visit the Dark Sky Preserve. Due to the overuse of artificial light, over eighty percent of the world's population have never seen an unrestricted night sky. That makes this the perfect place to disconnect from our chaotic lives and get lost in the vastness of the universe.

Is there anywhere else in Alberta you would go to escape the heat? Tell me about it in the comments below!

If You Go

Check out Tourism Medicine Hat to plan your trip activities.

Drop by the Visit Newell website to plan your tour.

Read more about what to see and do in Lethbridge.

Visit Waterton Lakes National Park and learn about their restoration process.

Learn more about BucketlistAB here.

Grab an awesome itinerary and start your Southern Alberta adventure.

Travel Alberta also has lots of great information about things to do and places to see in Medicine Hat.

Canalta Hotels has partnered up with a collection of destinations across Southern Alberta.  Stay a Night & See a Sight - they are ready to help.

Images by Matt Bailey and PChris Istace Mindful Explorer.

Don't forget to pin it!

Four Places to Escape the Heat in Southern Alberta Four Places to Escape the Heat in Southern Alberta

And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.

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