Three unmissable experiences in Alberta, Canada
When you picture Canada, what springs to mind? Soaring mountains, sparkling glaciers and vivid turquoise lakes? That picture-perfect image is very real in Alberta, the Canadian province so scenic it makes you want to pinch yourself. Bordered by the famous Rocky Mountains and home to no less than five national parks, Alberta is an outdoor-lover’s dream destination. And if you’re more of a sit-on-a-sun-lounger kind of traveller? A trip to Alberta will change that. Here are three truly unique things to do in Alberta.
Embrace the snow and ice
Booking a trip to Canada during winter isn’t an obvious move. The country has famously cold winters after all, with freezing temperatures and snowfall guaranteed. But forgoing your annual fix of winter sun in favour of colder climbs isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Winter in Canada is a truly magical time —especially in Alberta.
The light, dry snow here is amongst the best in the world, and you don’t need to be an avid skier to join in the fun. Snowshoeing requires no practice and you’ll get to see places that wouldn’t be possible with regular snow boots.
Away from the snow, ice skating is taken to a whole new level when frozen lakes become ice rinks. Glide across the ice on Lake Louise with the Victoria Glacier and snow-capped Rocky Mountains as your backdrop. Or forget the skates and slip on some ice cleats instead: frozen canyons are prime for exploring. The winter sunshine reflecting off the ice is a site to behold.
The best of Alberta’s winter activities are all included in our Winter Rockies Small Group Adventure, a 10-night trip of a lifetime.
Explore the Rockies (without the crowds)
A trip to the Rocky Mountains tops many bucket lists, and for good reason. There’s certainly no place quite like it, with incredible scenery making for epic road trips and breath-taking hiking alike.
Head there in May, June or September and you’ll be treated to all the joys of a summer visit, without the crowds of the July/August peak season. Banff and Jasper National Parks boast some of North America’s best hiking – perfect to do at this time of year to avoid the heat of mid-summer. Our Hiking the Rockies 8-night trip just might be the perfect agenda.
Exploring the Rockies shouldn’t be all about exerting yourself, though. Canoeing, kayaking and even swimming in the crystal-clear lakes are all serene experiences not to be missed. And if you’d rather kick back and take in the spectacular alpine scenery? There’s no better way to do that than in the natural hot springs. Our self-drive itinerary, Rocky Mountains In Depth, will make sure you don’t miss a thing.
During winter, meanwhile, the tourist numbers are still low and a totally different Rockies experience is to be had. Linking Lake Louise with Jasper, the Icefields Parkway is regularly rated one of the most beautiful journeys in the world — and we reckon it’s at its best at this time of year. The ancient glaciers are shimmering, the cascading waterfalls are eerily frozen and the forests are silent. You’ll feel as if you’ve journeyed to another planet.
Do some world-class stargazing
The night sky doesn’t get much more beautiful than in Jasper. The area is designated as a Dark Sky Preserve – one of only 53 in the world – thanks to limited light pollution that creates ideal conditions for stargazing. With 11,000 square kilometres of preserved sky, on a clear night you’re guaranteed to get an incredible view.
If you’re staying in the town of Jasper, Lake Pyramid and Lake Annette are just a few kilometres away and offer some idyllic spots for stargazing. Bring a blanket, lay back and marvel at the universe.
The annual Dark Sky Festival takes place every October, with events and experts on hand to explain, inspire and help you spot the best stars and – hopefully – the northern lights, too. If you’re a science fan, you’ll be spoiled: past event speakers include Professor Brian Cox and NASA astronauts.