Where to Embrace Nature in Alberta July 21, 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.
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.
If you're heading to Alberta to explore the great outdoors, you'll want to stop by Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. I have stopped in Cypress Hills several times over the past few years and I find it more and more beautiful every time I visit. Cypress Hills is a geological miracle, sitting right across the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and not too far from the border into Montana. Having been saved by the roving ice sheets that once tore through the area, Cypress Hills towers over the nearby landscape. It offers a wide variety of places to hike, bike, stand up paddle board, canoe, kayak and camp.
If you visit Cypress Hills, be sure to take the short drive up from Elkwater Lake to Head of the Mountain. Here you can see the northern hills of Montana, over 100 kilometres away. I made this trip a few years ago and was amazed by how far I could see!
A few hours away from Cypress Hills is Lethbridge. This bustling city was formed around a nearby river and lake, which provides a wide variety of aquatic sports and games. If you prefer to stay dry, however, Lethbridge also has plenty of hiking and biking paths available.
Like Cypress Hills, the terrain around Lethbridge is ridged and hilly, providing plenty of places to take in the nature. Lethbridge is also home to the Lethbridge Viaduct, a towering bridge that crosses the city from above. This bridge is perfect for a photoshoot, a hike or to sightsee while in the area. At over a century old, this bridge is an iconic representation of the ingenuity and determination of early Western settlers.
For nature enthusiasts. Crowsnest Pass is another sought after destination. Along this stretch of highway are communities sprinkled through the mountainous landscape. Decades ago, travelling to all of them in a single day would be daunting, but today it's a common occurrence. Thanks to e-cycles that can be picked up throughout the area, visitors can jump on a bike and travel the 23-kilometres of pathways that connect the communities.
While this area of the province has much to offer, two of the biggest highlights are the Bellevue Mine Tour – which takes you 300 metres deep into the old Bellevue mine – and the famous Frank Slide. Frank Slide is known throughout Western Canada as being the site as one of the largest natural disasters in Canadian history. In 1903 the nearby Turtle Mountain collapsed, and with it came 90 million tones of limestone down onto the community of Frank below. Today the town is an ocean of rocks and stone, a ghost of what once stood there.
Just south of the Crowsnest Pass is Alberta's newly designated provincial park, Castle Provincial Park. This park opened in 2017 with the purpose of being one of the most accessible parks in all of Canada. Often, provincial parks can be difficult to explore. Here in "flat Saskatchewan", for example, it isn't uncommon to find ropes and foot holds to help people climb up and down sharp drops in our parks. In Alberta that's even more extreme, and Castle Provincial Park strives to solve that problem. Throughout this park are a myriad of paths, roads and inclines all made as accessible as possible.
The park even has the first-of-its-kind "Icon Explore" e-trikes, which allow people with disabilities to explore the nature with their friends. It would also be handy for people like me, who can't ride a bike, to go biking with my family and friends.
The final place to explore nature this summer in southern Alberta is Waterton Lakes National Park. By itself, this park is stunning, being home to the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel. The mountains surrounding the hamlet of Waterton are easy to climb and offer several waterfalls to explore.
Having been to Waterton several times, I can talk all about the beauty of the region, but that isn't why the park made my list. Last year, the same year Castle Provincial Park was opening, Waterton was under siege by a roaring forest fire. It tore through the landscape, torching trees, jumping rivers and decimating communities. Thankfully, the hamlet of Waterton was saved. Today the park is regrowing, with young saplings appearing beneath the charred remains, and new plants emerging from the ashes. The determination of nature to always regrow and return is inspiring, and something we should all strive towards.
The following is a guest article by Sally Elbassir, the owner and food taster of Passport and Plates, originally titled "The Tapas, Taverns and History of Madrid: A Food Tour". Be sure to drop by her blog for culinary treats from around the world!
I've always been a foodie. Long before the term "foodie" ever existed, I was that kid who was always eager to try something new.
Things haven't changed much in the last couple of decades. My palate has expanded, and I discovered that my dream job does exist; it just happens to be occupied by Anthony Bourdain. Now I satisfy my foodie obsession by writing on Yelp, and on my blog... there's plenty more where that came from.
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!
Although the hot summer days of July are long behind us, 2017 is still Canada's 150th year. In honour of Canada's sesquicentennial birthday, I decided to put together a list of 150 things about Canada. This list talks about our quirkiness, our strengths, our weakness, and our legacy, for better and for worse. There are some sad facts, some odd facts and some facts that will probably make you open another tab to look into for yourself.
Hope you enjoy this list, and I hope you all had a great 2017!
1. Canada's two official languages are French and English, but only 20.6% of Canadians speak French.