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The Top Ten Places to Visit in Alberta

Updated on July 04, 2015
Valley of the Ten Peaks and Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada.
Valley of the Ten Peaks and Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada. | Source

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

Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump
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.

Map: Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump
Map: Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump

9. Writing-on-Stone National Park

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Writing-on-Stone Provincial 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.

Map: Writing on Stone Provincial Park
Map: Writing on Stone Provincial Park

8. Jasper Provincial Park

Jasper
Jasper

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.

Jasper National Park of Canada
Jasper National Park of Canada

7. Dinosaur Provincial Park

Dinosaur Provincial Park
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.

Map: Dinosaur Provincial Park
Map: Dinosaur Provincial Park

6. Lethbridge Japanese Gardens

Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens
Nikka Yuko 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.

Map of the Lethbridge Japanese Gardens
Map of the Lethbridge Japanese Gardens

5. Edmonton

Edmonton Skyline
Edmonton Skyline

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.

4. Drumheller

Drumheller
Drumheller

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.

Map: Drumheller
Map: Drumheller

3. Calgary

Calgary Skyline
Calgary Skyline

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

Banff Springs Hotel
Banff Springs Hotel | Source

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

Lake Louise
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

Comments

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    • Jyle Dupuis profile image
      Author

      Jyle Dupuis 7 years ago from Henrico, Virginia

      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.

    • profile image

      khushali 7 years ago

      thank tou very much........this post has been very useful

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi 7 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      Great hub, I am fond of Banff too but I love the Kananaskis region as well as Nordegg and the Kootenay Plains area.

    • profile image

      Pierre 7 years ago

      Yep, Banff is super! Thank you for an interesting and informative Hub - it's been a great read.

    • Bbudoyono profile image

      Bbudoyono 7 years ago

      Magnifique!

    • LRobbins profile image

      LRobbins 7 years ago from Germany

      Good list! I'm from Alberta as well.

    • starla profile image

      starla 7 years ago

      Once again, Lake Louise takes the top spot? Why??? It's not nice there at all...

    • profile image

      melaine 7 years ago

      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

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      thanks for share. I think those place great for traveling. nice picture also. I'll go there someday.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      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!

    • profile image

      bergy 7 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Adele  7 years ago

      Fantastic list. I just moved to Montana and I'm hoping to head north into Canada and Alberta very soon!

    • kcreery profile image

      Kevin 7 years ago from Whistler Canada

      Nice Hub. I'm going to Lake Louise this summer. It looks beautiful.

    • profile image

      carl 6 years ago

      nice pics

    • profile image

      floogle dorf 6 years ago

      wut about west edmonton mall in edmonton

    • Connie Ho profile image

      Connie Ho 6 years ago from Quebec, Canada

      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.

    • profile image

      Genevieve 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Randa 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Zindal 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Caitlin 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Nicole 5 years ago

      woohoo alberta :)

    • profile image

      johny applesauce 5 years ago

      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!!!

    • profile image

      Nancy 5 years ago

      This are not the most ten place visit in Alberta

      But most of them are (:

    • profile image

      ranjiv 5 years ago

      how many days or weeks to take me to visit these places?

    • Jyle Dupuis profile image
      Author

      Jyle Dupuis 5 years ago from Henrico, Virginia

      It all depends on how long you want to spend visiting each place. But a week should do the trick.

    • profile image

      rohan puri 4 years ago

      alberta rules!!!!

    • profile image

      rohan puri 4 years ago

      i think it would take atleast a yeaar to walk from my house to alberta

    • profile image

      Damara Montgomery 4 years ago

      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 :)

    • profile image

      Evan 4 years ago

      Thank you very much.Very useful but found a spelling mistake ;P

    • profile image

      Willow 4 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anna 4 years ago

      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.

    • xurangelx profile image

      xurangelx 4 years ago from ontario canada

      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

    • profile image

      adumpaul 4 years ago

      Nice information.Great stuff.Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      roadfrog 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      T. 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      lita 4 years ago

      any advise good tent ground campsite in lake louise,banffand jasper.im going next week.aug.24,2012.thanks

    • profile image

      Kayla 4 years ago

      that is great

    • profile image

      Cindy 2 years ago

      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.

    • NomadsCanada profile image

      NomadsCanada 13 months ago

      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!

    • profile image

      albert 9 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      albert 8 months ago

      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.

    • Terrielynn1 profile image

      Terrie Lynn 2 months ago from Alberta, Canada

      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.

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