Alberta has great contrasts. The Canadian Rockies, renowned for ski resorts, wildlife and winter activities are juxtaposed against the desert Badlands with prehistoric geology and dinosaur fossils. Excitement abounds in this wild place: spotting grizzly bears or wolves, digging for dinosaur bones and walking amid stone giants of the Hoodoo Rocks.
Edmonton and Calgary are the gateways to Alberta. Explore the province’s history at the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton. Learn about gemstone geology, local dinosaur fossils and the ancient cultures of Alberta’s aboriginal people. Whatever time of year you’re visiting, the “City of Festivals” offers celebrations of the seasons, music, film and food.
Alberta’s most well-known festival, however, is in Calgary. The ten-day-long Calgary Stampede celebrates the rustic skills of rodeo riding and chuck wagon racing and has been held annually since the 1890s. Get a view over the city while relaxing in the lush green of Prince’s Island Park in the Bow River before sampling fantastic local beef or Alberta cheeses with Rocky Mountain wines.
Drive to the Badlands to see desert landscapes dotted with eerie mushroom-shaped sandstone structures called Hoodoos. In the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, dig for dinosaurs and learn about the fossils found here. Immerse yourself in early settler life at the Pioneer Village and Museum in Hanna. Keen Star Trek fans can have their picture taken in a Trekkie uniform in Vulcan, in a scaled-down Enterprise ship at the Vulcan Tourism and Trek Station.
Alberta’s main winter attractions are its powdery slopes, mountain scenery and ski resorts with buzzing nightlife. Lake Louise, Banff and Sunshine are the best-known slopes, but there are plenty more throughout the province to experience. Try your hand at dog-sledding or take a sleigh ride. In warmer months, hike peaks covered in alpine wildflowers in Banff National Park or take a wildlife tour to see and photograph wild grizzly bears, huge elks, wolves, bighorn sheep, cougar and lynx.