Alberta Road Trips

By Bridget Brown; Posted Jul 23, 2018

Normally, it’s our job to expertly navigate Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and the highways that connect them. In the summer, though, we love a road trip as much as anyone else. Alberta has some of the best road trips there are to offer.

 

Many of us have been to Sylvan Lake, Moraine Lake or Dinosaur Provincial Park. Here are five summer road trip destinations that may show you part of Alberta you’ve never seen before.

 

Abraham Lake - Courtesy Travel Alberta

 

#1 - Abraham Lake

Nordegg, AB

 

Abraham Lake is an offshoot of the North Saskatchewan river on the Kootenay Plains. It is two and a half hours west of Red Deer, and a four hour drive from either Calgary or Edmonton.

 

You may have already heard of the lake as a great winter destination in Alberta. That’s because this man made reservoir, the province’s largest, is known for its “ice bubbles.” Plants on the lake bottom release methane bubbles, which freeze in the winter and make for some spectacular photos.

 

The lake, however, is a great year-round destination. In the summer, it sparkles with all the turquoise beauty of any other Alberta mountain lake, but isn’t nearly as busy. It’s a great place for kayaking or canoeing, and is an excellent picnic and hiking destination.

 

Start at the Bighorn Dam visitors centre to get information on where to visit. The dam is also the starting point for a scenic hike to Tershishner Falls.

 



#2 - Lake Minnewanka

Banff, AB

 

Lake Minnewanka is a glacier-fed lake within Banff National Park, about 5 km from the Banff townsite. It’s a perfect destination for a lakeshore picnic, but it is also a great starting point for many other kinds of adventures, like hiking, canoeing or fishing.

 

Scuba diving is a popular pastime at Lake Minnewanka, and for good reason. The lake levels rose about 30 metres in the 1940s and submerged the village of Minnewanka Landing. Divers can explore what’s left of the town underwater.

 

Bowden Sunmaze

 

#3 - Bowden Sunmaze

Bowden, AB

 

Starting at the beginning of August, Canada’s only sunflower maze is ready for exploring near the town of Bowden. It is a three-acre maze made up of 100,000 sunflowers. They typically bloom fully by the second week of August.

 

The Sunmaze is also home to a number of animals that visitors enjoy,including rabbits, chickens and mini horse.

 

In late summer, there is a u-pick garden for flowers and farm fresh veggies.

 

 

#4 Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

Tofield, AB

 

This interpretive village is about 25 minutes east of Edmonton on Highway 16. The Village has relocated and preserved more than 35 historical buildings from the Alberta pioneer settlements between 1892 and 1930.

 

The Village is staffed by interpreter-actors who present information to visitors in character, by recreating the lives of people who lived in Alberta’s Ukrainian communities during this time period.

 

A visit to The Village is not complete without sampling some of the delicious Ukrainian food that is sold on site.

 



#5 Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton, AB

 

Waterton Lakes National Park is one of Canada’s smaller national parks, but well worth the trip to the far southern border of the province to visit. It isn’t exactly a hidden gem, but 2017’s Kenow Fire has closed parts of the area and many people are confused as to whether it’s still a good road trip destination. It definitely is.

 

You can stay in style in the Waterton Townsite, which was untouched by the fire, or you can camp at the surrounding campsites. Waterton has all the beauty and mountain scenery of Banff, but with only a fraction of the visitors. You can hike, golf or take a boat ride and be virtually assured to see some kind of amazing wildlife, like moose, deer or maybe even a beaver waddling across the road.

 

If you stay on a clear night, be sure to drive out to one of the stargazing points. The park is now a dark sky preserve and the light show Mother Nature puts on is pretty spectacular.

 

Some parts of the park do remain closed due to the fire, but this website can keep you up to date on what is open.

 

Whether you have a day, a weekend or a whole holiday, there are lots of hidden gems to check out right here in Alberta, so head out and get exploring.

 

 

About the author: 

 

Bridget Brown

 

Bridget Brown is a Calgary-based writer. She runs Create That Communications, a marketing agency specializing in compelling storytelling. Bridget is an award-winning former broadcaster; she spent 15 years reporting and producing for stations across Canada.

 

 

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