Planning Your Alberta Bucketlist Biking Adventure July 16, 2018 · 6 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.
Most people know how to ride a bicycle. They learned sometime as a child and never forgot. I am not one of those people. I tried learning when I was a child, a teenager and an adult, and I have never mastered the two-wheel contraption. Whenever I see a child zip past me on a bike, I get a little jealous inside. I've always wanted to learn, but it's just something I've never been able to do.
On my recent trip to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta, I explored several of the many biking paths that wind through the area. The paths are also hikable, so I walked them instead. Although I've visited Cypress Hills several times, I never get used to the hills and lakes throughout the area. With dozens of kilometres of trails, you can spend a weekend there and never do the same thing twice. Although hiking around the park was incredible, I imagine it would be a lot more fun, and a lot easier, to bike it instead.
One of my most favourite things about Cypress Hills is that while you may feel you're in a natural oasis, you're actually very close to civilisation. Medicine Hat is less than 45 minutes away from the park and is one of my absolute favourite places in Alberta. From restaurants to attractions to history, there's something for everybody in this booming community.
Boasting an average of 330 sunny days a year, Medicine Hat is covered in parks for people to enjoy. The winding pathways weave between trees, over rivers, and through the city. You can ride up to the top of the valley and view the city from above, or you can ride down to Medalta, a historic clay factory that has been transformed into a museum and gallery.
On the other side of the province, embedded on the edge of the famous Rocky Mountains, is the iconic Crowsnest Pass. This pass leads you past several communities throughout the mountains, and through Frank Slide, one of the largest – and saddest – natural disasters in Canadian history. In 1903, the nearby Turtle Mountain collapsed on itself and a volley of 90 million tons of limestone rolled over the small town of Frank. Within 100 seconds, over 90 lives were lost and a town was buried.
If you want to explore an intact mining cave, you can take the Bellevue Mine Tour. This tour takes you deep underground and through 300 metres of reinforced mine. Here you can learn about the dangerous working conditions this mine had while in operation, and how important it was to the community.
While you're near Crowsnest Pass, you might notice signs for a place called "Castle Provincial Park". Even if you've visited this area before, you've probably never heard of it. This isn't because it's a secret gem hidden away in the Rockies – although it is – but because it didn't exist until last summer. In fact, it is Alberta's newest official provincial park!
One of the big themes Castle Provincial Park offers is accessibility. Many people who have mobility problems – or who can't ride a bike, for example – don't visit provincial parks very often. It's a lot of work to go somewhere, just to see all the things you can't do. Castle Provincial Park solves this by offering rentable "Icon Explores"; accessible e-bicycles that allow everybody to explore the park to their heart's content.
If you visit Castle Province Park, also give yourself plenty of time to go canoeing, fishing and exploring. The park is beautiful, and there's plenty to explore for return visits.
If you go:
Find out more about Cypress Hills on the official Alberta Parks website to plan your adventures.
Ever since visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg last summer, I've wanted to include more about First Nations culture on my blog. Being of European descent, I often feel I am culturally blind to First Nations culture, and I noticed a severe lack of it in my writing. In fact, I feel in past articles a lot of my focus has been on European history in the New World, with only a side note regarding First Nations history. Now, I am trying for there to be more equal representation in my blog.
To finish off my #BucketlistAB series, I thought this article would be the perfect place to flip the tables, and instead focus on First Nations culture, with a European side note. Sometimes it is impossible to talk about one without the other, but I tried to focus more on the First Nations people and their story in this article. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.
I was recently asked if I preferred my time in Montreal or Quebec City more, and while Montreal is a gorgeous city, decorated with thousands of green copper spires, hosts incredible festivals, has some of the most fantastic food I have ever tasted, and is spotted with beautiful parks, there was just something about Quebec City that spoke to me. Being over four hundred years old, Quebec City is one of the last remaining "walled cities" in North America, and is the only one north of Mexico. Quebec City was the location of some of the greatest conflicts in Canadian history, including the Siege of Quebec by the British.
Belonging to three very different countries (France, England, and Canada) in its four hundred year existence, Quebec City is a mixing pot of old traditions, new ideas, cobblestone streets and modern architecture. Since there is so much to see in Quebec City, I figured I would narrow it down to a couple and let you discover the rest! Here is "8 Places to Visit in Quebec City".
The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.