Things to Do in Alberta
Halfway along the Icefields Parkway, the Athabasca Glacier stretches down to the valley from the Columbia Icefield.
A living remnant of the last ice age, Athabasca is one of the largest of around 30 glaciers in the Rockies’ largest icefield. The glacier is on the move, shifting several centimeters (inches) per day.
The highlight of a visit to the glacier is the Icefield Centre, which provides all the info you need to know about the formation of glaciers.
Guided hikes lead to the toe of the glacier from the center; it takes around four hours roundtrip. For a more novel trip to the glacier, hop aboard a snow coach for a unique drive across the icefield.
Kicking Horse River flows through the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia, from its source in Lake Wapta, south-west to the Columbia River and the town of Golden.
This wild river is the premier white-water course in the Canadian Rockies, offering exciting rafting over Class 3 rapids or more gentle Class 2 paddles.
Golden lies at the center of Kicking Horse Country. The town’s unusual covered wooden bridge over the Kicking Horse River was built in 2001.
Peyto Lake is blue—really blue. Because of its proximity to nearby glaciers, large amounts of glacier flour flow into the lake each summer, and these suspended flour particles–nothing more than ground rock–saturate the lake and give it its spectacular color. And despite its breathtaking surroundings, located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park, there are few viewings that rival gazing down at Peyto Lake from the platform just off the Icefield Parkway.
While the five-minute, self-guided interpretive hike to the viewpoint takes in the most spectacular view of the lake, visitors looking for a touch more adventure can hike to the Bow Summit Lookout. This 2.5-hour hike leaves from the highest point on the Icefield Parkway and climbs above the tree line to offer spectacular views of Bow Summit, Observation Peak and Mount Jimmy Simpson. Marmots, picas and ptarmigans are commonly seen along the hike.
The longest river in British Columbia and the 10th longest river in Canada, the Fraser River rises at Fraser Pass near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains and flows for 854 miles (1,375 km) into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver. Known for white sturgeon and the most productive salmon fishery in the world, Fraser River has supported agricultural and community life for hundreds of years.
More recently, Fraser River has become a host to a wide variety of recreational activities as well. Fishing, boating, whitewater rafting and other activities are common throughout the course of the river. In the basin as a whole, visitors can enjoy other backcountry activities such as hiking, camping, backpacking, cycling, birdwatching, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. As a scenic attraction, the Fraser River commands attention along many public byways including the Trans Canada and Yellowhead highways.
More Things to Do in Alberta
Heritage Park is a historical village in Calgary that showcases the history of Western Canada from 1860 to 1950. It is Canada’s largest living museum, divided into four areas that each represent a different period of time. Some of the area historic buildings still stand, while others have been brought in and restored. Traditional schools, homes, and saloons of the past give a sense of what life was like in each era. The park’s staff stands dressed in period costume, while horse and carriage or vintage automobiles roam the streets.
Other historic working artifacts of make history come to life. Interactive areas demonstrate the evolution of Canada’s industries, including fur trading, the Prairie Railroad, and the era of the automobile. Available activities include riding an authentic steam train or making your own old-fashioned ice cream. Visitors experience the history of Canada as it comes to life in nearly 200 available exhibits.
One of North America’s largest ski resorts and claiming the title of Canada’s Best Ski Resort multiple times at the World Ski Awards, the Lake Louise Ski Resort has a deservedly stellar reputation, along with a jaw-dropping setting, overlooking the glacial valley of Lake Louise. With 4,200 acres of piste spread across four mountains, over 145 runs served by high-speed chair lifts, and the longest run clocking in at 8km, powder junkies will be spoiled for choice at Lake Louise, and there’s something for all ability levels. While adventurous types can make the most of the ample chutes, glades and bowls, beginners can cut their teeth on the gentler slopes and first-timers can brush up on their skills at the ski school.
Snow tubing, Nordic skiing, husky sledding and snowshoeing are also popular activities, while summer visitors can enjoy hiking in the hills, ride the 2,088m Sightseeing Gondola or go rafting on the nearby Kicking Horse River.
Where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains begin to rise from the Great Plains is where you’ll find Canada’s oldest and largest buffalo jump, an archaeological site that has preserved the fascinating history of the Plains People for millenia. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump remembers a method of hunting practiced by the native people of the North American plains for nearly 6,000 years. Because they knew the regional topography and the bison’s behavior so well, the People were able to hunt bison by stampeding them over a cliff.
Today the site is a multi-exhibit museum introducing the visitor to the people who lived in harmony with the delicate ecology of the prehistoric plains, showcasing their lifestyles, and sharing native accounts of how they learned to hunt the buffalo. Topographical models explain how the jump site was used, and an exhibit focuses on the spiritual and ceremonial significance of the buffalo hunt.
Jasper National Park is home to stunning scenery, incredible wildlife and of course, breathtaking skies. Travelers can get a unique perspective on the heavens during a visit to the Jasper Planetarium, where constellations and evening stars are on display above comfortable seats. An informative guide leads travelers on a tour of the Milky Way and solar system, while describing the wonder of the Northern Lights. After taking in stunning projections on the planetarium ceiling, travelers can peek into the largest telescope in the Rockies for a real-life look at the stars. Staff are happy to provide photography tips to insure the best possible photos of evening skies are captured.
Known as the “Matterhorn of the Rockies” at nearly 12,000 feet up, Mt Assiniboine is one of the region’s highest peaks. When the mountain was first spotted on the Great Continental Divide between British Columbia and Alberta’s Banff National Park by Canadian scientist George M. Dawson in 1885, he named the peak Assiniboine because its dramatically pointed top reminded him of the teepees of the Assiniboine people.
Nestled near the crystal clear waters of Lake Magog, Mt Assiniboine provides a true backcountry experience; British Columbia’s Mt Assiniboine Provincial Park has no roads whatsoever. A trip to the park requires at least a six-hour, 17-mile hike via Bryant Creek near Canmore. Alternatively, you can take a helicopter to visit this UNESCO World Heritage wilderness of alpine meadows, glaciers and waterfalls.
Things to do near Alberta
- Things to do in Banff
- Things to do in Calgary
- Things to do in Edmonton
- Things to do in British Columbia
- Things to do in Washington
- Things to do in Wyoming
- Things to do in Whistler
- Things to do in Vancouver
- Things to do in Sunshine Coast
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do in Oregon
- Things to do in Manitoba
- Things to do in Utah
- Things to do in Nevada
- Things to do in Colorado