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The Canadian province of Alberta is regarded far and wide as a paradise for those who enjoy the great outdoors. The scenery is some of the most majestic to be found anywhere on the planet, so driving from Point A to Point B will be a memorable treat for the eyes. You can take a dog sled across the ice and snow, or experience the newest popular pastime of strapping on a pair of snowshoes and trekking through the back country.
The origin point of Calgary is tucked into the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and American first-time visitors consistently remark at how clean this metropolitan city is. If you want to explore the art, culture, and music scenes before heading out into the wild, this is the place to do it. Calgary is rich with big-city experiences, but it also radiates a small-town vibe despite its million-plus population. Outside the city, the Kanaskis Trail gives you the chance to go horseback riding and local outfitters can equip you for a day trip, or a four-to-seven day camping trip into the mountains. The Kicking Horse River is an excellent place to test your nerves by shooting down the rapids in a guided tour, and in Spray Valley there’s the opportunity to hire a dogsled for a brisk run through snow country.
A short 36-mile drive down Highway 2 takes you to the next stop of High River, which has genuine frontier flair to it. The city is named for its proximity to the Highwood River – which actually runs through the town itself – and is very proud of its pioneer heritage. The town offers a number of Western-themed events, such as the Little Britches Parade and Rodeo, and the North American Chuckwagon Championship Races. If you want to explore the town’s history, don’t miss the Museum of the Highwood, which features exhibits from the mid-19th century until the present. A Historic Homes Tour gives visitors a look at some fully-restored homes in the Queen Anne, Victorian, and California Bungalow styles. The Happy Trails Pathway runs from the east side of town to the west, and is a charming, scenic place to go walking, jogging, or cycling, and a great way to experience High River.
Continuing south on Highway 2 for 20 miles, head east on Highway 529 and follow it for 25 miles to the town of Champion, which is a perfect staging point to set up camp. There are plenty of campgrounds that provide hookups for the RV, and while the town’s small (population is less than 400), you can resupply as needed. The surrounding wilderness gives you the chance to go hunting and fishing, or maybe you just want to enjoy the quiet solitude that only escaping into nature can provide. If so, then Champion is definitely the place to do it.
When it’s time to leave Champion, return to Highway 2 and head south for a little over 40 miles until you come to Highway 3. Drive east on Highway 3 for 30 miles until you come to the final stop, Lethbridge. Lethbridge, like much of Alberta, provides a cool climate year round, with an average temperature in the mid-50s. Due to its 3000-foot elevation, even the summers in Lethbridge tend to run toward the cool side. While you’re there, be sure to visit Oldman River Park, which boasts facilities for biking, tennis, golfing, and swimming. The ENMAX Centre is an impressive arena that was originally built for the ’75 Canada Games, and has an indoor running track, ice rink, and several racquetball courts. The arena also plays host to the Western Hockey League, and showcases events such as concerts, basketball games, even a three-ring circus when it’s in town.
When one looks at the diverse recreational experiences to be had, ranging from arts and culture, to roughing it out in the wilderness regions, the province of Alberta is an excellent place to enjoy the best of metropolitan life while being a stone’s throw from the peace and quiet of the great outdoors.