Neighbouring British Columbia, Alberta’s western boundary runs through the spectacular Rocky Mountains. With some of the most stunning alpine landscapes within the country, this diverse province also boasts sweeping prairies, rolling farmland, lush forests and beautiful lakes.
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Without a doubt one of Alberta’s main attractions is the awe-inspiring Banff National Park, which is the best known of the Rocky Mountain national parks. The magnificent scenery, comprising mountain peaks, forests, glacial lakes and powerful rivers, covers an area of some 6,641 sq km (2,564 sq miles).
The Banff township, which grew up around the hot springs that were discovered here in the 1880’s, is an excellent base from which to explore the park and its many attractions. Probably the most notable of these is Lake Louise with its striking turquoise waters backed by rising snow capped peaks providing an iconic image of the region.
Stretching north from Lake Louise to Jasper is the Icefields Parkway, a 142-mile spectacular drive through the outstanding beauty and geological features of the Canadian Rockies. Allow plenty of time for photo-stops along the way, with scenic highlights including the dazzling colours of Peyto Lake and the immense Columbia Icefield. Here you can join an Ice Explorer ride onto the Athabasca Glacier or take in the views from the new Glacier Skywalk.
Jasper National Park is the largest of the Rockies parks and offers excellent hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. The small resort town of Jasper provides a great base from which to explore, as well as onward rail links to Vancouver.
Having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988 Calgary is a popular ski area during the winter season and becomes a world-class mountain biking venue in the summer. The most sprawling city in the province, Calgary is also known for its Stampede – a 10-day festival held in July each year celebrating the rich cowboy heritage of the province.
East of Calgary is Drumheller, the gateway to Dinosaur Provinical Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This area is known for being one of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils in the world and new species of dinosaur are discovered here virtually every year. The region was a prime dinosaur habitat 65 million years ago and the continued erosion of the sandstone and mudstone landscape regularly exposes remains of the ancient creatures.
The capital of Alberta is Edmonton, situated on the banks of the Saskatchewan River and home to the largest mall and entertainment centre in the North America. More than just a shopping centre, West Edmonton Mall also has a giant water park, a man-made lake, a skating rink, two mini-golf courses, 21 movie theatres, a Vegas-style casino and an amusement park with 25 rides and attractions.