Summer in Alberta
By Jessica Pook
Beyond the soaring peaks of the Canadian Rockies summer months can be spent between Alberta’s buzzing big cities and sprawling national parks
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park in southern Alberta has been sacred to Indigenous Blackfoot people for thousands of years. It’s filled with history and natural wonders, and the sandstone cliffs are adorned with ancient Indigenous petroglyphs. The carvings depict sacred people, spirits, battles and stories that date back nearly 4,000 years. A guided tour is the best way to visit.
Waterton Lakes National Park is equally as stunning as Banff and Canmore – minus the crowds. Located 272km from Calgary, the drive down to Waterton breaks into the expansive mountain-scape you see on postcards. There are hiking trails for all ability levels – try the Bertha Falls or Red Rock Canyon. And don’t miss stopping by the historic Prince of Wales Hotel, which overlooks the namesake lakes.
The North Saskatchewan River Valley in Alberta’s capital city is the perfect spot for a summer picnic on the green. But it’s in neighbourhoods like Old Strathcona where you’ll find some of the best local restaurants in the city – whether you’re in the mood for a casual 50s-style diner or fine dining, with many chefs emphasising farm-to-table dining. It’s also filled with exceptional locally owned craft breweries and distilleries.
Visit historic Inglewood, which has some of the best locally-owned boutiques, restaurants and breweries in Alberta’s largest city. East Village has easy access to the park on St. Patrick’s Island and the downtown core, which includes historic Stephen Avenue or 17th Avenue, the place to be for nightlife, shopping and dining. Calgary Zoo, Calgary Tower, the Central Library and Studio Bell are highlights of a city tour.
Elk Island National Park
Less than an hour from Edmonton is Elk Island National Park, an important refuge for bison. The national park is home to the bison conservation facility, which encourages visitors to learn about these shaggy giants with tours and demonstrations. Elk Island is also a dark sky preserve, offering campers the chance to sleep under a blanket of stars after a day spent hiking, kayaking or wildlife watching.
Drumheller & Horseshoe Canyon
Millions of years ago dinosaurs roamed Alberta – and there’s proof. The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller is an easy day-trip from Calgary and home to what is considered one of the best dinosaur fossil collections in the world. Don’t miss the chance to fossil hunt around the surrounding Canadian Badlands. Stop to see the hoodoos (soft rock formations) in Horseshoe Canyon on the way back.