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Visiting Alberta on Your Next Road Trip
Canada's third and westernmost prairie province is Alberta and its crown jewel, Calgary. There’s more to Alberta than hockey. In fact, some of the best places to visit are outdoors, beyond the city limits, and well worth a visit for those continuing on their Canadian odyssey. Rustic Alberta campgrounds are plenty, and more elegant Alberta RV camping resorts are also easy to find, but require reservations in many cases.
Start with the Alberta Badlands, a vast expanse of unusual rock formations located in the southern region. Many visitors report the area as having an almost lunar feel, aided by years of natural erosion of the ground’s top layer. As such, be careful where you tread. These Badlands are under constant trampling by human visitors, not to mention the constant pummeling Mother Nature delivers upon the delicate sandstone hills. While the landscape's fragile covering has created a natural wonder for all of us to enjoy, the worn-away top layer has also produced one of the world's greatest paleontological areas. Take the region's 32-mile drive known as Dinosaur Trail, which tours the area and makes a crucial stop at the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology. Here you'll find the 18,000-acre Dinosaur Provincial Park, which continues to produce an amazing wealth of dinosaur artifacts even to this day.
West of the Alberta Badlands lies one of the continent's most intriguing marriages of natural and human history; the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (catchy name, isn’t it?). This area was used as far back as 5,000 years ago by the Plains Indians as they chased herds of buffalo over these cliffs to their deaths. Today, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated the region World Heritage status as it remains an important archeological source on the culture of the Plains Indians.
Rising from the west of the prairie provinces lies Canada's showcased natural wonder, the Canadian Rockies. Together, this region consists of four national parks – Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho, and spans the western edge of Alberta, eventually spilling well into British Columbia. More than 100 years ago the Canadian government foresaw the burgeoning tourist trade that could have a negative effect on their natural resources. Luckily, action was taken at the proper time, ensuring this region's monumental environment would be preserved for generations to come. Although not a completely untouched wilderness, the park itself comes complete with a network of fantastic roadways enabling travelers to penetrate through deep valleys and high, mountain passes. Of course, if you and your RV need a little time away from one another, there’s always one of the many railcar and gondola rides through these mountains.
The country's oldest and most famous national park, Banff National Park, is also nearby, tucked in the southern end of the Canadian Rockies. In 1883, Banff became only the third national park in the entire world. Home to a series of hot springs, which actually brought the original visitors to the area, the park also entertains nearly every type of outdoor pursuit. Horseback riding, mountain climbing, glacier tours, hiking, biking or walking are all available here in the setting of the majestic Rocky Mountains.
Inside the park is Lake Louise, with her emerald waters surrounded by dense forest and snow-capped peaks. The lake offers plenty of outdoor excursions around its perimeter for the outdoor enthusiast; there’s even an impressive chateau-style hotel sharing the shoreline as well. One of the best hikes in the area is to Victoria Glacier, along the lake's northern end. This seven-mile loop climbs nearly 1,300 feet before reaching the half-mile glacier. Another nearby excursion is to Moraine Lake. Half the size of Lake Louise, but equally as impressive, Moraine Lake offers miles of wonderful hiking trails into the wild region surrounding the lake.
From Lake Louise, take the Icefields Parkway Drive north to Jasper National Park. This drive is truly one of the world's most scenic, with its five linking valleys, passing under icy mountain peaks, cruising by emerald-green lakes, roaring rivers and countless miles of forest land. Along the way, there are several must-see sights, including Hector Lake, the second largest lake in the Banff National Park. Did we mention the icy glaciers there as well, edging away from the lake's shore? The Mistaya Canyon was carved out by the Saskatchewan River and also offers excellent scenery. Next, stop off at the Upper Waterfall Lake, directly adjacent to the Continental Divide. At the north end of the Mistaya Canyon sits Weeping Wall, a magnificent series of waterfalls fed by melting snow from the surrounding mountains. Continuing northward will bring you to the most expansive ice field in all the Rocky Mountains, Columbia Icefield. The last two highlights of the drive, right before you hit Jasper, are the Sunwapta Falls and the Athabasca Falls. There are many Alberta campgrounds nearby for the RVers convenience.
The largest of the Rockies’ national parks, Jasper features nearly 4,200 square miles of adventure in the wilderness terrain. Just outside the Jasper Townsite looms the 11,000 foot Mount Edith Cavell. The drive up the mountainside may be a little harrowing for travelers in larger RVs. The Tonquin Valley trailhead follows the Astoria River as it traverses the canyon below the mountain peak. This trail also winds around the scenic Cavell Lake and its unique mountain scenery.
Nearby the Maligne Canyon is one of the most accessible – and popular – attractions in all the Canadian Rockies. Follow the Maligne River along a two-mile interpretive trail winding through the canyon’s prettiest sights. Maligne Lake is the largest lake in the Rockies, stretching some 14 miles end to end. Take advantage of the opportunity for canoeing since the lake is connected to many secluded lagoons and other bodies of water tucked away in this seemingly untamed setting.
Article Courtesy of Woodall's Campground Directory where you can find rated and inspected Alberta campgrounds and Alberta RV camping Resorts. Search for