CAL­GARY TO WATERTON LAKES

AL­BERTA

Canadian Geographic - - CANADA'S BEST WINTER DRIVES - —Conor Mi­hell

WIN­TER IN AL­BERTA’S cow­boy coun­try is an amal­gam of snow­dusted ranches and long views of the Rock­ies, buried deep in pow­der. High­way 22, a.k.a. the Cow­boy Trail, traces the eastern edge of the foothills through rolling, open coun­try. Com­pared with the prov­ince’s iconic 232-kilo­me­tre Ice­fields Park­way from Jasper to Banff, the road-trip vibe from Cal­gary to Waterton Lakes is in­ti­mate and off the beaten track — with far less traf­fic. The 312-kilo­me­tre jour­ney be­gins on the Trans-canada High­way, west­bound from Cal­gary. Exit south on High­way 22 and promptly dip into sprawl­ing ranch lands. The dis­tinctly Prairie towns of Turner Val­ley and Black Di­a­mond owe their ex­is­tence to oil and coal, re­spec­tively. To­day, their broad, old-fash­ioned main streets have been rein­vig­o­rated by a new gen­er­a­tion of west­ern artists. Far­ther down the road, Cana­dian folk­mu­sic leg­end Ian Tyson lives in Longview; it’s easy to see how the sur­round­ing land­scape (in­clud­ing the Bar U Ranch Na­tional His­toric Site, which once hosted the Sundance Kid) in­spired great song­writ­ing. High­way 22 merges into High­way 3 and peels away from the Rock­ies to Pincher Creek, where the win­ter Chi­nook winds fun­nel through the Old­man and Cas­tle river val­leys. A 60-kilo­me­tre drive south on High­way 6 takes you into Waterton Lakes Na­tional Park’s labyrinth of moun­tains. The so-called “Crown of the Con­ti­nent” makes an alpine con­nec­tion with Mon­tana’s Glacier Na­tional Park. The quaint vil­lage of Waterton is the gate­way to a week­end of out­door ad­ven­ture. Stay at Waterton Lakes Lodge Re­sort, which of­fers free snow­shoe and ski rentals, and hit the scenic Akam­ina Park­way, which af­fords ac­cess to two cross-coun­try ski trails.

A road­side vista of Rocky Moun­tain peaks ris­ing above Waterton Lakes Na­tional Park’s name­sake lake.

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