Alberta Travel Guide

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Banff Ski areas - This area is all about mountains, lakes and the things that go with it like skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing and hiking. There are so many other things to do - spending a weekend with wolves, dogsledding, seeing icefields, glaciers, canyons, waterfalls and let alone the flora and fauna. You can play golf. Millions visit the area every year because it is as close as one will ever get to nature. There are 25 mountains in all, forming part of the Rocky Mountain range. The Banff National Park, established in 1885, was Canada's first. The hot springs are another crowd puller. The area attracts several million vistors each year and yet the small village is very small.

Edmonton - The city sits astride the Saskachewan River and is the provincial capital. It is close to the Jasper National Park and other national parks making it a convenient stop over. From Edmonton, the Rocky Mountains are about 300 km west. In winter, one should be prepared for lots of snow as the city is consistently white at Christmas.

Calgary - The city literally turns wild in July during the Calagary Stampede in July. Be sure to book yourself early as the town and the nearby countryside are packed for the duration of this 10 day cowboy festival. People come from all over the world for the eating, parades, rodeo shows, outstanding horseriding displays and chuck wagon races. At night, the stampede road show takes over with dancing, singing, bands playing, clowns doing their thing and fireworks displays. All in all, there are two sides to Calgary, big city life and wilderness adventure. The city is the hub of the Canadian oil industry with all the high tech that goes with it while outside the city limits, are the mountains, forests and lakes.

Drumheller - The town's claim to fame is in its dinasaur fossils. The Dinasaur Provincial Park is a World Heritage Site, or as some people call it, a dinasaur grave yard. The town has taken advantage of this extinct creature by having dinasaur statues, ornaments and other symbols stuck all over the place like public buildings. Drumheller is 130 km northeast of Calgary. A visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaentology, dedicated to the study of dinasaurs, is worth a visit.

Jasper - Jasper National Park is the largest of the national parks in the Rockies and home to North American's rarest animals. You may want to visit the Miette Hot springs or raft the Athabasca River. Maligne Lake is one of the park's beauty spots.

Outdoors

Skiing and Snowboarding - The best downhill ski areas are Nakiska in Kananaski Country. In Banff National Park, recommended areas are Mt Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise and in the Jasper National Park, the Marmet Basin.

Rock Climbing and Mountaineering - There are organisations in Banff, Calgary, Canmore and Jasper offering instruction and guided climbing.

Hiking and Cycling - Facilities for these abound in the national parks and provincial recreational areas. Scenic cycling routes include the Icefields Parkaway which is between the Banff and Jasper National Parks and Bow Valley Parkway, between Banff and Lake Louise. Edmonton and Calgary have hiking and cyclying trails in their city boundaries.

Moving around

There is an international airport in Edmonton served by national and international airlines.

The local VIA Rail, can take you to the major centres in the province and the rest of Canada, with the exception of Calgary which does not have a rail link. In western Canada, the trains do not run as frequently as in other provinces. In addition, the trains may run at night which may not be convenient for sight seers.

Navigating the Rockies by car in summer is easy. Inter city buses touch almost every spot in the province and may be the most convenient way to travel.

National festival and holidays

Canadian Finals Rodeo (November) - This is Canada's major indoor rodeo show that boasts huge prize money for the things that cowboys do best like roping and riding. It is held in Edmonton.

Calgary Stampede (July) - This is known as the greatest outdoor show on earth. Cowboy madness invades the city for 10 days to celebrate everything of the cowboy lifestyle.

Heritage Day (7 August) - Provincial holiday in Alberta

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