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Recommended Tent Camping Sites for 2011 - AB, BC
Alberta Tent Camping Trip
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TCH-16 crosses into Alberta from Saskatchewan, west of Lloydminster, the only town in Canada that straddles two provinces. In fact, the town’s Main Street makes up a portion of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. A worthwhile tour can be had at the Barr Colony Heritage Center, where the history of Lloydminster comes alive. The town was founded in 1903 after 2,000 English colonists flocked to the area to start a utopian society.
Gasp in awe at the World’s Largest Easter Egg in the town of Vegreville. Measuring over 18 feet tall and weighing more than 5,000 pounds, this is not some run-of-the-mill roadside oddity erected out in the middle of the desert. The Pysanka (Ukranian for “Easter Egg”) was created to commemorate early Ukranian settlements in the area east of Edmonton. The computer-designed, aluminum-skinned egg is a mathematical, architectural and engineering marvel, using multiples of five distinct symbols across its complex surface. It’s mounted on an internal pole allowing it to act as a weathervane, rotating with the wind current. Vegreville Elks-Kinsmen Community Campground is one of great the Alberta tent campgrounds to check out in the area.
Stay on Hwy. 16 and your next stop will be the provincial capital of Edmonton. Built as a Hudson Bay Company outpost in the late 18th century, Edmonton is today a thriving cosmopolitan city worth taking a few days to explore all its features. The Edmonton Corn Maze is one such experience, where you and your crew can test your navigational and memory skills (if those skills haven’t already been tested just getting here). Another family favorite is the Edmonton Science Center, a world-class exhibit dedicated to understanding the wonders of our natural world. Another educational destination in town is Fort Edmonton Park, where guides in period costumes take visitors through some of the nearly 70 historic buildings that make up Canada’s largest historic park. There are a couple Alberta tent campgrounds to check out in the area too.
Heading west from Edmonton you’ll leave the rolling plains of central Canada and enter more mountainous terrain. This can only mean one thing: Famed Jasper National Park, a veritable wonderland, is coming up. Once there, climb out of your RV and into the soothing natural baths of Miette Hot Springs. In the park you’ll also find the charming town of Jasper Townsite, a wonderful place for walking or just enjoying the rustic scenery.
Another favorite Alberta route is TCH-1, which enters Alberta at Medicine Hat and runs northwest to Calgary and on to Jasper National Park. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself beginning this tour in mid-July. You do like rodeos, right? The Medicine Hat Stampede is one of the best around, hosting four days of professional rodeos, chuck wagon races, horse shows and just about any other activity that involves cowboy hats. Also in town is the World’s Largest Tee-Pee, which stands more than four stories tall, built for the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
When you reach the town of Brooks, you’ll know you’ve arrived in the Alberta Badlands. Check out the Dinosaur Provincial Park and learn about the earliest inhabitants of Alberta, thumping around long before humans showed up on the scene.
Continue westward, and before long Calgary, a vibrant and modern city of more than 800,000 people, comes into view. Once you’ve gotten acclimatized, visit the Calgary Tower, an excellent introduction to the city as it soars more than 600 feet into the sky. Afterwards, hoof it over to Olympic Plaza, a spacious open-air plaza specially built for the 1988 Olympics, and today a popular public gathering place. Other Calgary favorites include the Calgary Science Center and Fort Calgary Historic Park. If you’re looking for a little boot-scoot action, check out the Cowboys Dance Hall. Open Wednesday through Saturday, the masses turn out to this popular venue to “cut a rug” to country music, both classic and contemporary. While Calgary is a lively city replete with cosmopolitan flair, without a doubt the biggest attraction in the city is some good old-fashioned, down-home fun at the Calgary Stampede. This ten-day rodeo extravaganza in July is billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and few who’ve experienced it first-hand would argue. Alberta tent camping is also plentiful here. There are a number of Alberta tent campgrounds for you to choose from.
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British Columbia Tent Camping Trip
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Much like the American West, British Columbia is Canada’s final frontier. It is a wilderness paradise dotted with small towns and charming cities that hold something for everyone. TCH-1 enters British Columbia at the town of Banff, located in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Lake Louise Campground & Trailer is one of the choice British Columbia tent campgrounds to stay at.
The town of Kamloops is a wonderful British Columbia interior city, ideal as a great starting point for exploring many of the area’s attractions. Be certain to visit the Great Train Robbery site just outside town, where Bill Miner, Canada’s version of Billy the Kid, held up a railway station for his final Canadian heist. After an arduous chase, Miner was finally caught and his illustrious career ended, but not before he won the hearts of Canadians and entered the nation’s folklore.
From Kamloops, TCH-1 heads southwest and on to Vancouver. In Vancouver, drive onto one of the many ferries for a sojourn on Vancouver Island. With Victoria as your base, experience the colorful history of this lush island. Victoria is a provincial capital and university town famous for its architectural heritage, afternoon teas and beautiful gardens.
Back on the mainland, if you’re looking for a road less traveled, consider driving north on Highway 97 and hooking up with TCH-16 at the town of Prince George. Known as the Yellowhead Highway, this roadway takes you west where the somewhat dry interior gives way to the green Pacific Coast region. Prince George is one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, offering its natives and visitors plenty to see and do. The city is known as “the capital of the north country” with numerous fine art galleries, a top university, and a professional theater company. Prince George also showcases its rich history and pioneer spirit in several museums. A number of British Columbia tent camping locations can also be found here.
Forgive the angler in your crew if they become more excitable upon entering the town of Houston, best known as the Steelhead Capital of Canada. No surprise here, but this is also the home of the World Largest Fly Rod, nearly 60 feet in length! While many of the lakes and rivers draw people into Houston, it is also well known for its hiking and Nordic ski trails that crisscross the region.
Another gem of a city in this neck of the woods is alpine-themed Smithers. Like Houston, the quality of the fishing in and around Smithers is second to none. For duffers, the town happens to be home to a pair of top-notch golf courses, available during the months of fair weather. And while you’re here, you might as well check out Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park as well as the Igloo Wildlife Museum. There are also a few British Columbia tent campgrounds to stay at here.
Consider the western coastal city of Prince Rupert your final British Columbia tent camping trip destination along TCH-16. Not only does the city enjoy its status as a major trade center, but also as the cultural capital of Northwest British Columbia. For a lovely dining experience, try out the popular Crest Hotel, which stands majestically on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. While Prince Rupert is full of unique restaurants and quality shopping like most other towns in Northern British Columbia, people really come here to explore the surrounding wilderness area for adventure, and for opportunities to see two of Mother Nature’s most amazing specimens, grizzly bears and whales – each of which inhabit this area for half the year.
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