Places to See in Alberta
Perhaps one of the most overlooked places to visit in Canada is Alberta. While most international travelers come to enjoy the night life of Toronto and Montreal or the beaches of B.C.'s West coast, Alberta has remained a relatively quiet province.
Alberta is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848–1939), who was the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. Princess Louise was also the wife of the Marquess of Lorne, Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. Lake Louise and Mount Alberta were also named in honour of the late Princess.
Below in this article, learn about the top ten places to visit in Alberta, this often overlooked but worthwhile province of Canada.
10. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Near Fort Macleod is an obscure museum called Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this place is a must-see for anyone wanting to learn more about or explore Native American culture.
The museum is built into the side of a cliff that was used by the plains' Indians for thousands of years as a buffalo trap. Large herds of buffalo would be lured and stampeded to jump over the side of the cliff every season. The meat was so plentiful for the tribes that they were able to support large communities year-round.
After seeing the exhibits, you will leave with a newfound or renewed respect for the first North Americans.
9. Writing-on-Stone National Park
Near the Alberta/Montana border and just 44 km east of the small town of Milk River is the Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. Canada recently nominated the park to UNESCO for World Heritage status.
This park boasts having over 50 petroglyphs (stone-carved images) created by the Blackfoot Native Americans, which date as far back as 7000 B.C. Some of the petroglyphs have been damaged, so it is hard to discern many of the images.
8. Jasper Provincial Park
Jasper Provincial Park is another one of Alberta's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The town lies deep in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and is easily accessible by train, bus, or car. The town is full of wildlife and outdoorsy things to do. Also, you can check out the ice field tours which is right near town, where you can take a specialized bus tour of the thousand-year-old glaciers.
7. Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is another UNESCO World Heritage site in Alberta. The park is heaven for paleontologists, as it boasts one of the largest dinosaur finds in the world. Because it's a distance away from civilization, it is easy to feel isolated and by oneself in the park. Albertans love to visit for the great campgrounds and outdoor life.
6. Lethbridge Japanese Gardens
Lethbridge might seem like an odd place to have the world famous Japanese Garden, but it does and the garden attracts visitors from all over the world. During World War II, Canada gathered thousands of Japanese Canadians into concentration camps near Lethbridge. When the war ended, many decided to stay in the surrounding area. To make the vast prairie land feel more like home, they built the Japanese Garden near the center of the town. It has been a highlight for many tourists since.
The garden is not open year round, so make sure to plan your trip to Lethbridge during the garden's open seasons.
Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta, and houses some of the province's best museums, universities, cultural centers and entertainment sectors. Though it's second to Calgary in population, Edmonton takes up an area larger than the city of Chicago. This makes Edmonton one of the least dense city in North America. So if you plan on getting around to visit the sights you may want to consider renting a car. However, in my own personal experience, Edmonton is not a place to be touring around if you are not a confident driver.
Because Edmonton is so spread out, they have several large parks and recreation areas. One of the biggest known sites for fun and a number one destination spot for tourists is the West Edmonton Mall. When the mall was built in 1981 (and until 2004), it was the largest mall in the world! After larger malls were built in the Middle East, West Ed. still retains the title of largest in North America and fifth in the world.
About an hour's drive northeast of Calgary is the town of Drumheller, located in the Alberta Badlands. Thousands of years of glacier erosion caused the river valleys to open up into these Canadian Grand Canyons. Interestingly enough, the depletion of the surface soil allowed paleontologists to discover million year old dinosaur bones littering the entire are. These valleys hold so many bones—most yet to be discovered.
Calgary is Alberta's largest city and gateway to the Rockies. It was originally a fort for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and was an important location in helping to secure the sovereignty of the Canadian west. After the Trans-Canadian Railway was built, Calgary, with its vast prairie ranches, became the bread basket and cattle trade capital for the rest of Canada.
- The Calgary Stampede. Ranching is still an important part of Calgary life. The whole city even breaks out their western attire during the two weeks of Stampede. The world famous Calgary Stampede takes place during the first two weeks of July. During this time, the Stampede Park opens its doors to visitors from all around the world who come to see the various exhibits, art, and shows. During the day, you can enjoy chuck-wagon races, rodeos, and more. Then, at night, the stage opens up for Canada's most famous musicians, singers, and bands of all genres.
- The Calgary Tower. You can also visit the Calgary Tower, which stands at 627 feet. The tower was built in 1968 as part of a downtown revitalizing program. Built to be the tallest structure in the world at the time, it was designed to be an observation deck for tourists to see and enjoy the view of the nearby Rocky Mountains. During the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, it was retrofitted with a torch on the top. During the games (and now only for special occasions) a large flame can be seen bursting from the tower.
- Canada Olympic Park. The highest point of Calgary is the top of the ski jump at Canada Olympic Park (COP). The two large jumps can be seen from far away in the N.W. area. The park is a great place for year-round recreation. In the winter, you can enjoy skiing, ski-jumping, luge, bobsled, and so forth. Then, in the summer they open the hill for mountain bikers who can take the ski lift to the top of the hill and just bike down to the bottom. They also have a zip-line at the top of the ski jump for the truly adventurous.
2. Banff Springs
The Fairmont Banff Springs is a five-star hotel nestled in the Canadian Rocky Mountains near natural hot springs. The hotel is open year-round, and has 770 rooms. Guest can stay in rooms as small as 184sq ft to the Presidential Suite that is 1000sq ft. The hotel caters to many different events including world summits, golf tournaments, conferences, and weddings.
1. Lake Louise
This picture of Lake Louise says it all. Deep in the Canadian Rockies, a large turquoise lake trickles from the multi-thousand-year-old glacier in the distance. The Fairmont Hotel that houses visitors to the lake is world class and books visitors months in advance. But don't let this deter you from visiting—there are many campgrounds that make visiting fun and affordable for any budget.
Other Noteworthy Places
- Cypress Hills
- Big Horn Country
- Kananaskis Country
Tylor on April 14, 2017:
I appreciate your sharing. I must say that you have such a nice names of attractions with all of us which tourists can explore in Alberta. I have a good experience of because I have been there a lot of times in my whole life and have joyful time with my family and friends. I am so much excited about my smoky mountain tours.
Terrie Lynn from Canada on January 06, 2017:
This hub needs to be better researched. There is too much info that is not accurate. This would not be my top ten list and I live in Alberta.
albert on June 30, 2016:
I really like to shared your informative article. Edmonton is also famous destination and my favorite too. I have a plan to go to there after finishing my yosemite bus tour from los angeles once again with my few cousins in coming holidays for enjoyment. I am so happy for it. I am sure it will be a memorable time for me.
albert on June 02, 2016:
I have a good experience of Writing-on-Stone National Park because I have been there before going to enjoy my bus tour from washington dc to niagara falls more than five times in my life and have really great time there. I captured many images of this alluring park in my camera. In my point of view it is a prefect destination for all traveling and fun lovers.
NomadsCanada on February 01, 2016:
Jasper is actually a National Park :) the only thing I would add is that the Icefields tours are actually about an hour's drive from town (not as accessible as most people think). Your choices are interesting, definitely a few in there I wouldn't have thought to visit and I've lived here for a few years. Thanks for the suggestions!
Cindy on February 07, 2015:
How can you leave out Waterton Park? One of my favourite places in Alberta. Also. see Turtle Mountain that fell down in the eary 1900's yet when you drive through, you may think it just happened yesterday as you pass the enormous boulders. Great interpretive centre at Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. And don't forget about RAM FALLS - worth the drive.
Kayla on January 28, 2013:
that is great
lita on September 17, 2012:
any advise good tent ground campsite in lake louise,banffand jasper.im going next week.aug.24,2012.thanks
T. on August 11, 2012:
Please do your research and remove your erroneous comments. It is EXTREMELY ILLEGAL to go fossil hunting in Drumheller or anywhere in Alberta.
A) There is a law in Alberta called the Alberta Historical Resources Act. This law states that you cannot not dig for fossils without a permit, you cannot remove fossils from the province, and you cannot sell Alberta fossils. If you are caught doing any of these you can be fined up to 50 000 dollars or spend a year in jail or both.
B) There is a Provincial Park in Drumheller, where the Royal Tyrrell Museum is located, not only can you not remove any fossils from the park, you cannot remove anything from the park.
C) Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO world heritage site and a provincial park, therefore several laws protect the area, and once again you cannot look for your own fossils to take home with you. 90% of the park is restricted and you need a guided tour to have access.
Your information concerns me because it is encouraging the illegal hunting of fossils in highly protected areas. If you are a member of the public and you find a fossil anywhere in Alberta, you cannot dig it out of the ground without a permit. You must report any finds to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the fossil guardians of the province. All of the fossils in Alberta belong to the province and not individual people.
roadfrog on June 06, 2012:
I just spent ten days in an RV touring the National Parks between Banff and Jasper. Fantastic! We missed the mad rush - required no reservations and the rates were off-peak. Recommendations: Johnston Canyon; Wapata Falls; Jonas Creek Campground; bear watching on Mt. Norquay Road and Marmot Basin; Sunwapta Falls. Take a good camera with at least a 400mm zoom lens.
adumpaul on June 05, 2012:
Nice information.Great stuff.Thank you for sharing.
xurangelx from ontario canada on June 04, 2012:
will travel from calgary to drummheller to reddeer to edmonton to hinton to jasper pyramid island to golden bc rogerspass bc to lake louise bnff n canmore cochrane n back to calgary to from there sadly have to return home ..should be an amazing breathtaking trip with many mezzmerizing moments of peace.. safe traveling from my wee famali to yours
anna on May 31, 2012:
These places are great and you won't get bored going back over and over again. In Banff and Jasper has gondolas wherein you feel you are on top of the mountains. Hot Spring in Banff can heal body pains and you feel better after. I have been to places which are mandmade and just driving to places like Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper is precious.
J on May 30, 2012:
I was surprised that Fort Edmonton was not on the list, or the Telus Space Science Center. Fort Edmonton is way cooler than Fort Calgary.
That being said Calgary Zoo is also not on the list. I have been to several zoos including San Diego.. and Calgary is well put together.
Willow on May 29, 2012:
how can anyone say Lake Louise isn't a nice place when i went about 2 weeks ago it was amazing.
It was still frozen and yet i got sunburnt and the waterfall was frozen too was nice.
I have visited Edmonton, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Lethbridge and Vulcan and found them all to be interesting places
Evan on May 29, 2012:
Thank you very much.Very useful but found a spelling mistake ;P
Damara Montgomery on May 28, 2012:
I would just like to make one correction... I live in Drumheller and work at the musuem and would like to point out that:
it is illegal to prospect for fossils in the badlands and it is a 200,000 dollar fine to remove them.
You probably don't want to do that :)
rohan puri on May 15, 2012:
i think it would take atleast a yeaar to walk from my house to alberta
rohan puri on May 08, 2012:
Jyle Dupuis (author) from Henrico, Virginia on February 29, 2012:
It all depends on how long you want to spend visiting each place. But a week should do the trick.
ranjiv on February 12, 2012:
how many days or weeks to take me to visit these places?
Nancy on January 24, 2012:
This are not the most ten place visit in Alberta
But most of them are (:
johny applesauce on January 11, 2012:
you guys shouldn't wayste your time posting dumb poop on this page! its for trips and expieriences to be shared. not to buy cats for 3.62. but ryan marlin i would like to be your friend! im sure your a very nice guy!!!
Nicole on October 19, 2011:
woohoo alberta :)
Caitlin on March 14, 2011:
Decent list of places, Unreliable information. It is ILLEGAL to remove dinosaur fossils/bones from Dinosaur Provincial Park (Drumheller). Much of the surrounding area is also privately owned so double check you are not trespassing when hiking around.
Zindal on February 21, 2011:
This site is terrible and full of misinformation. Calgary Tower was built in 1968, 20 years before the winter olympics. Edmonton is not the least dense city in North America. Most US cities have fewer people per square mile and in fact Edmonton has the second most dense neighbourhood in Canada.
Randa on December 18, 2010:
I'm from Calgary, Alberta and absolutely love the entire province. I would like to make one correction to this list - The Calgary Tower was not built for the Olympics. The Tower was built in 1968 and the Olympics were held in 1988.
Genevieve on November 06, 2010:
I have lived in Calgary practically my whole life and I just started to go hiking in the mountains. You cannot truly appreciate the mountains until you go hiking in them. The views are spectacular, the air is fresh and the silence is wonderful. There are many lakes up in the mountains, some with colours like the Caribbean seas. When you go to Banff, Canmore or Lake Louise, go hiking, don't just stay in the towns.
Connie Ho from Quebec, Canada on May 26, 2010:
Hi, I have lived in Calgary for some years. The most intriguing is Lake Louise & Banff.....the water is clear, pristine and turquoise, I mean very very turquoise. Those scenaries and my friends are my greatest Alberta memories to cherish.
floogle dorf on May 23, 2010:
wut about west edmonton mall in edmonton
carl on April 27, 2010:
Kevin from Whistler Canada on March 22, 2010:
Nice Hub. I'm going to Lake Louise this summer. It looks beautiful.
Adele on February 15, 2010:
Fantastic list. I just moved to Montana and I'm hoping to head north into Canada and Alberta very soon!
bergy on December 02, 2009:
u visit banff and comment on the movie theater, bowling alley and miniture golf? u need to see what banff really has to offer. between banff and jasper is a place called tangle fall, it is a 10!
Cari Jean from Bismarck, ND on November 03, 2009:
my husband (who is from Canada) and I honeymooned in Mountain View, Alberta just across the border from Glacier National Park in Montana. It was a great experience and we even saw a moose!
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on August 31, 2009:
thanks for share. I think those place great for traveling. nice picture also. I'll go there someday.
melaine on August 17, 2009:
I thin banff should have gotton number 1 I stayed at the banff springs and it was gorgous in the room they have a movie theater bowling alley, minature golf, swimming pool and hot tub and of coure fabulus restaurants
starla on August 05, 2009:
Once again, Lake Louise takes the top spot? Why??? It's not nice there at all...
Laurel from Germany on July 04, 2009:
Good list! I'm from Alberta as well.
Bbudoyono on July 01, 2009:
Pierre on June 11, 2009:
Yep, Banff is super! Thank you for an interesting and informative Hub - it's been a great read.
Mardi Winder-Adams from Western Canada and Texas on June 03, 2009:
Great hub, I am fond of Banff too but I love the Kananaskis region as well as Nordegg and the Kootenay Plains area.
khushali on May 13, 2009:
thank tou very much........this post has been very useful
Jyle Dupuis (author) from Henrico, Virginia on May 05, 2009:
I'm trying to get back to Banff soon. So far, I think I like Banff the most. Should have made that my number 1.