Destination Guides

Highlights of Alberta: Best places to visit

Ben Westwood

27th June 2024

Banff National Park in Alberta

Alberta is a province of incredible beauty, offering some of the most awe-inspiring mountain scenery in North America. This stunning Rocky Mountain province is famous for its majestic peaks, turquoise lakes and vast wilderness filled with bears, elk, moose and big-horned sheep.

Home to jewel of the Rockies Lake Louise and the breathtaking national parks of Jasper and Banff, connected by one of the world’s best drives on Icefields Parkway, Alberta’s spectacular landscapes never disappoint. Here is a selection of the best places to visit in Alberta:

Lake Louise

The reflection of jagged mountains and glaciers in the shimmering turquoise waters of Lake Louise is one of Canada’s most iconic sights. In Banff National Park, Lake Louise is an unforgettable location to spend a few hours and take endless photos. Enjoy a picnic on its shores, go boating on the lake, then hike on the many trails through majestic landscapes filled with wildflowers and wildlife such as goats, elk, deer and occasionally bears. About 15km to the south is Moraine Lake, surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Plan ahead to book your space on the shuttle as the iconic scenery makes this a popular location.

Icefields Parkway

This route through Banff and Jasper national parks is one of the world’s greatest drives past glaciers, waterfalls and stunning mountain lakes. Highlights to stop off along the way include Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field of its kind outside the poles, and the Glacier Sky Walk, a glass-floored observation platform 280 metres over the Sunwapta Valley. Other spectacular stop-offs not to be missed are Bow Lake, Peyto Lake and the waterfalls of the Weeping Wall.

Banff

At an altitude of over 1,300 metres, Banff is Canada’s highest town and certainly one of its most dramatically beautiful, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and thickly forested hills. The Banff Gondola is one of the best ways to take in the views, soaring 700 metres above the town. The surrounding Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest protected area and the country’s most visited. Explore its endless hiking trails past glaciers, waterfalls, mountain peaks and shimmering turquoise lakes, notably the famous Lake Louise. The park has diverse wildlife, including black and grizzly bears, moose and elk.

Jasper National Park

The biggest national park in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper is famous for its sweeping wilderness of emerald lakes, glacial peaks, crashing waterfalls, deep canyons and evergreen forest. Jasper National Park covers over 11,000 sq km, home to wildlife such as elk, moose, big-horned sheep, bears and wolves. The park offers endless hiking and cycling trails, one of the most popular to Maligne Lake, while the more adventurous can try ice climbing and rafting. Jasper is also one of the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserves in the world, so it’s a prime spot for star-gazing. In the town of Jasper itself, a highlight is taking the Skytram up to 2,200 metres to admire the breathtaking views.

Canmore

A quieter alternative to Banff, Canmore has a stunning location beneath the Three Sisters peaks. The town is a gateway to Kananaskis Country, a haven for hiking, biking, horse-riding and whitewater rafting amid mountains, lakes and valleys. Canmore Nordic Centre on the outskirts of town has over 100km of hiking, biking and cross-country skiing trails, while the surrounding Kananaskis boasts five provincial parks including Bow Valley, Sheep River, Spray Valley and the largest Peter Lougheed, centred around Kananaskis Lakes.

Calgary

While less renowned than Vancouver and Montreal, Alberta’s largest city has much to offer and it’s definitely worth lingering here for a day or two at the start or end of your trip. Located between the Rockies and the Canadian prairies, Calgary is rich in cowboy culture, musical heritage and the city is one of the best places to eat in Alberta. Highlights of Calgary include panoramic views from the 190-metre Calgary Tower, the outdoor museum of Heritage Park Historical village, the National Music Centre at Studio Bell, and the cuisine of Kensington Village. The city welcomes more than a million visitors in July for the world-famous Calgary Stampede.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Where the Canadian prairies rise to the Rockies, Waterton Lakes National Park has wonderful scenery in a quieter, less-visited region of Alberta. In the far south of the province near the US border, the town of the same name has an idyllic setting on Waterton Lakes, popular for paddleboarding, kayaking and cruises. Visitors can enjoy hiking and horse-riding on trails filled with wildflowers and wildlife including bears and moose. The 17-km Crypt Lake Trail is a highlight through forests and past waterfalls, while at night, star-gazing is recommended in this Dark Sky Park.

Dinosaur Provincial Park

In the east of Alberta lie The Canadian Badlands, an unworldly landscape starkly different to the Rockies. South east of Drumheller, this semi-arid region is famous for its unusual sandstone ‘hoodoo’ formations, a haven for palaeontologists with the largest deposits of dinosaur bones in the world. Dinosaur Provincial Park is the highlight of the Badlands – explore the fascinating visitor centre, then hike the trails in search for fossils. The park also has diverse wildlife, including deer, antelope and rattlesnakes.

Looking to travel to the Canadian Rockies? Discover Journeyscape’s range of Holidays in Alberta.

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