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.
If you follow my blog, you know I love history. History is what makes us who we are today. It defines our accomplishments and highlights our failures. Most importantly, it helps us move forward as a society.
A lot of my focus is Saskatchewan's history, but there's plenty of amazing history to be told in our neighbour province of Alberta too. From First Nations culture, through to early pioneers, the oil boom and the legacy the province today, there is always something to learn about when visiting Alberta.
After a long, dark, frigid winter, Canadians love the few months of summer we get every year. Once the snow melts and the mud dries, we are out hiking, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and exploring this wonderful country of ours.
Of all the provinces to explore, Alberta ranks at the top of many adventurers' list. From hoodoos to waterfalls, mountains to valleys, deserts to tundra and everything in-between, Alberta offers any outdoorsman the perfect place to embrace nature.
A few months ago I entered a contest for a trip for two to visit Philadelphia on Two Bad Tourists. Normally contests like this are limited to United States residents so when I saw this one was open to Canadians I jumped at the chance. I've never won something like this before, so I actually forgot about it until I got the emailing saying I had won. Two Bad Tourists then worked alongside Visit Philly to organise the trip for me and my mother to explore Philadelphia for three days. Visit Philly paid for our flights, hotels and gave us a VIP Pass to experience the city to our heart's content. It is thanks to them that this trip is possible.
Several movies and television shows have tried to capture the essence of Philadelphia over the years – from the boxing Blockbuster Rocky, to the paranormal thriller The Sixth Sense, to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even Boy Meets World – but each described the city differently. There is no easy way to approach a city as dynamic as The City of Brotherly Love. With countless layers of art, history, religion and the paranormal, Philadelphia is a city unlike any other throughout the United States.
One thing that surprised me the most about Philadelphia was the history. The city was founded and designed by William Penn, who is also the state of Pennsylvania's namesake. Born in London, England in 1644 he lived through The Great Fire of 1666 and The Great Plague of London from 1665-1666. Both events shaped Penn's life so he designed the city to be strictly stone buildings (to stop fires from spreading) and to have plenty of space between the buildings (as to prevent illness from spreading). This led to the older areas of the city to have winding corridors between old stone walls.