So you want to visit Alberta, eh?
Thinking of visiting Alberta? So what’s stopping you? 22 plus million folks visit here every year, and 22 million people can’t be wrong.
The Province of Alberta has been a people pleaser since the days that rail travel made travelling in Canada accessible to the masses. And as the decades passed, and air travel and tourism infrastructures developed, Alberta has become one of the most popular destinations in Canada.
Why? Quite simply, the Province has it all …
Alberta Geography 101
Alberta is located in western Canada between the provinces of British Columbia to the west and Saskatchewan to the east, and shares a border with the U.S. state of Montana.
Flanking Alberta’s western border with their rugged peaks and ranges, the Canadian Rockies is popular for the abundant alpine meadows, emerald lakes, riotous waterways, backcountry wilderness, and some of the best hiking and skiing in the world. Here is where you will find the three world-famous villages of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper – and the equally legendary Banff and Jasper National Parks, as well as Kananaskis Country – all of which provide visitors a year round playground of adventurous opportunities.
Amidst its towering tributes to the oil and gas industry, Calgary is bustling with museums, theatres, art galleries, fine restaurants and outstanding shopping. Famed for its entrepreneurial spirit and youthful population, the city prides itself on being the heart of the new west while honouring its Wild West heritage – especially evident during the 10 day Calgary Stampede every July. For a taste of western culture and legacy, you can visit the nearby towns and villages of Bragg Creek, Cochrane, Black Diamond and Longview – and keep your eyes peeled as you’ll recognize the scenery from the dozens of major feature films made here, in particular Brokeback Mountain.
Edmonton is known as Canada’s Festival City and some favourites include:
The Edmonton Folk Music Festival
Edmonton International Fringe Festival
The Heritage Festival
The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival
As well, Edmonton can boast of some 70 golf courses, including Canada’s oldest municipal course. And the mid-summer golf days are 17 hours long!
But be sure to visit Elk Island National Park, which is a pristine oasis of aspen parkland and less than an hour from Edmonton. Visitors follow self-guided trails to view free-roaming herds of bison, moose, elk, and 250 species of birds.
And you can’t help but visit world-famous West Edmonton Mall, which features some 800 shops, 100 eateries, and 9 world-class attractions, all under one roof.
From the Hoodoos of the Canadian Badlands to where rolling prairies and mountain landscapes converge, southern Alberta provides a glimpse of history as far back as the Cretaceous period. There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites situated here – all things prehistoric from dinosaurs to ancient First Nations campsites. You can retrace the steps of explorers, fur traders and whiskey smugglers. And you can take a self-guided tour and see where famous movies were shot. Hike, camp, paddle, horseback ride – the options are endless for appreciating the mystery and ancient beauty of southern Alberta.
Alberta’s heartland is filled with communities that take pride in their history and culture. Central Alberta is a canvas of landscapes. rolling foothills, expansive prairie vistas and countless lakes.
Northern Alberta’s pristine lakes, almighty rivers, boreal forests and abundant wildlife serve as the backdrop for an outdoor adventure of a lifetime. From here you can view the Northern Lights and watch hundreds of thousands of birds during their annual migrations. Summertime means 18 hours of daylight – a golfer’s delight. Agri-tourism is a popular attraction –bee farms produce the region’s famous honey and there are chinchilla, mink, ostrich and llama ranches to visit.
Alberta, like Texas, is often bigger than life!
The province, world famous for both its oil and diversity of natural terrain, is the main gateway to the Canadian Rockies. Its variety of natural areas and ecosystems supports hundreds of species of wildlife, many of which are endangered or protected. Coupled with the intriguing history of Aboriginal cultures and prehistoric dinosaur remains, it is easy to see why the United Nations bestowed Alberta with five of Canada’s 15 designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Alberta is currently the fastest growing province in Canada. A population of more than three million people lives primarily in Calgary and Edmonton. Notable, but smaller urban centres include Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
But uniquely special about the province is the weather; there are four very distinct seasons, and given that Alberta receives more days of sunshine than any other province in Canada, the opportunities to visit during any season offer a myriad of activities, all of which are exactly why almost 23 million people visit year-round.
During the Spring, Summer and Fall you can camp, golf, hike, mountain bike, horseback ride, view wildlife, birdwatch, fish, hunt, river raft, canoe/kayak …
During the Winter you can ski, snowboard, ice fish, ice climb, ice skate, snowmobile or dog sled …
Did we miss anything? Oh yes … If you are a city slicker and would prefer the comforts of great accommodations and all the things to see and do in Alberta’s cities, then you can visit any of the aforementioned cities and enjoy the Arts and Performing Arts, learn about the heritage and culture of the province, and visit several one of its kind attractions.
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