Start in Calgary, a culturally-rich city that makes a great gateway to Alberta’s wild places. Atop Calgary’s Nose Hill Park sits Siksikaitsitapi Medicine Wheel, a sacred Blackfoot collection of stones. Check out Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre to see the Rolling Stones Mobile Recording Studio. Next, stroll Music Mile from East Village to Inglewood to hear local, live music. More culture can be soaked up at the Central Library where you can join the Elder’s Guidance Circle to ask an indigenous elder about their history and traditions.
Drive three hours north to Edmonton to learn of First Nations’ and Métis peoples’ histories at the Indigenous Peoples Experience in Fort Edmonton Park. After, tour the city’s Arts District before perusing the Art Gallery of Alberta.
2. Meet the locals
Descendants of Alberta’s earliest residents welcome visitors to several sights including the recently opened Métis Crossing, 90 minutes north of Edmonton, which offers storytelling, crafts and exhibits about the Métis people. See herds of white bison and stay in a luxury lodge under the stars. Further south, at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park – where Treaty 7 was signed – you can learn about Siksika language, culture and traditions. Further south again at the UNESCO-listed Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site over 6,000 years of Plains Buffalo culture is preserved.
Albertans are also proud of their western heritage. Step onto one of the country’s most famous ranches at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site to learn about traditional cowboy lifestyles. If visiting in July, why not visit the thrilling Calgary Stampede to meet modern-day cowboys and visit the Indigenous Village?
3. Escape the crowds in nature
As well as its world-famous national parks, seek out Alberta’s lesser known natural spots to escape from the crowds. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park in the south is home to elk, white-tailed deer and moose. Spend your days hiking, paddling and biking before bedding down at the Elkwater Lake Lodge and Resort.
Around 30 minutes east of Edmonton is Elk Island National Park where you can search for the park’s moniker as well as bison and more than 250 species of birds, before sleeping at a nearby Edmonton hotel. Or why not spend a night under the stars in one of Elk Island Retreat’s geodomes?
Tiny Waterton Lakes National Park is a haven for black and grizzly bears as well as cougars and wolves. In summer, the park is an explosion of wildflowers, making for a picture-perfect ending to your Alberta adventure.
For more information on how to turn your dreams of visiting Alberta into a reality, head over to the America As You Like it website.