From Prairies to Rockies…
Best for: Landscapes, prairie country, palaeontology, urban culture, national parks, wildlife and glaciers
ROUTE: Edmonton • Calgary • Lethbridge • Waterton Lakes NP • Banff NP • Jasper NP
WHY GO? This trip takes in endless golden wheatfields, the badlands of southern Alberta and some of the finest parts of the eastern Rockies. Both Alberta’s principal cities are worth several days’ stay and have good cycle networks, as well as fine open-air museums about early prairie settlements, such as Fort Edmonton Park and Fort Calgary.
This is a land of wild superlatives. The Badlands area to the east of Calgary has yielded some incredible dinosaur fossils, celebrated in the vast Royal Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller. And to the south, Lethbridge also has a claim to fame: the 1.6km railway trestle over Oldman River is one of the longest, and most striking, bridges on the planet and well worth seeing.
Spring wildflowers in June are a feature of tranquil Waterton Lakes NP, where the Rockies rise out of the prairies. And to its north, none of the old Canadian Pacific Railway hotels can rival Château Lake Louise for its majestic waterside location.
Back on the road, the Icefields Parkway is among Canada’s most scenic routes, with stops to admire the turquoise water of Peyto Lake and spy Athabasca Glacier. Fine views also accompany the Jasper Skytram, whose upper station gives access to the 1.7km path summitting Whistlers Mountain (2,463m).
On the hoof The thrilling Calgary Stampede; ( below) Icefields Parkway is a wild drive through Banff and Jasper NP