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.
They say hope was the last thing to die in Auschwitz.
It's been just over 70 years since the Allies liberated the death camp and the horrors of the "Final Solution" were revealed to the world. Prior to their arrival, Auschwitz was the most effective death camp ever created, having taken the lives of over 1.1 million Jews.
Block 4 of Auschwitz holds the museum, explaining the best it can about what happened seven decades past. The museum explains what Auschwitz was originally built for – a camp for Polish prisoners of war – and how it became key to the Nazi's "Final Solution". The museum goes over the construction of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Auschwitz III (Monowitz), the increased sizes and effectiveness of gas chambers and the factories of death that stood and smoked over the camp during its operation.
Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the glockenspiel that once stood in downtown Regina. I had fond memories of the glockenspiel as a child and was sad when they took it down to renovate the park. I was even more sad when they didn't put it back up, and I was angry when I discovered it was sitting in a junkyard (sorry, outdoor "storage facility") for the past ten years. That article got a lot of attention, from both the public, the city and the press. Today, efforts are being made to restore the bell back to its original location.
I'm telling you this because preserving heritage – may it be a 25-year-old bell, or a fourth century building – is important. Without heritage, we lose who we are. Often, the desire to move society forward steps over the heritage and causes it to get lost. As impressive as tall glass buildings might be, nothing is better than a smoky red brick structure.
Saskatchewan is beginning to realize how important this is – and thankfully it's happening now and not in a few decades after everything is gone. But, our neighbours have been on the heritage preservation band train for several years now, especially in Alberta.
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.