Bias Alert! My husband is from Alberta and has me drinking the Canadian Kool-Aid. But don’t discard this post because of my slightly skewed point of view. You must trust me when I say you have to consider a trip to Alberta, Canada.
The 12 Best Places to Visit in Alberta, Canada
It is the ultimate place for the outdoorsy person, and for all of us wannabes (that’d be me). There seem to be endless numbers of gorgeous nature shots, and if you aren’t the type to hike 32 miles and camp for 4 days you still can get to a ton of fantastic spots.
Before knowing Calgary I was skeptical. I saw incredible pictures, but I of all people know how Photoshop works. I’m acquainted with cold weather, but I was worried that Canada would be too extreme.
One trip ultimately converted me. The lakes really are that turquoise color, there really are amazing mountain views at every corner, and of course the uncomfortably polite Canadians are there to help you every step of the way.
This list below spotlights a couple traveler “must-sees”, but is in no way finished. Just because an activity is listed at one park doesn’t mean it can only be done there. There seem to be an endless amount of Canadian national parks.
Alberta Tourist Attractions: Best Places to Visit
Jasper National Park
One of the most popular Alberta tourist attractions is definitely Canada’s National Parks! They are so amazing it almost feels wrong to include them so “informally” in this list.
Located in the Canadaian Rockies is Jasper National Park, let me tell you – it’s amazing! Although it takes a bit longer to get to from Calgary than other areas, it’s totally worth the drive. It is a natural wonder.
Jasper is also the site of the Maligne Canyon, Mount Edith Cavell (read more here), and the Columbia Icefields (more on those below).
Maligne Canyon Trail
Maligne Canyon Trail is located in Jasper National Park and it will not disappoint. Not matter the time of year you visit, this beautiful trail will blow you away.
As a bonus, if you’re not the “outdoorsy” type – the trail is more like a quick walk than a hike, which as far as I’m concerned, leave more time to take pictures!
The brisk yet calm force of a glacier field is something that is hard to describe. Being able to scale over and in between glaciers is something that pictures can never truly give you a sense of.
Maligne Canyon Trail is located in Jasper National Park and it will not disappoint. Whether you go to Alberta in the winter or summer, this beautiful trail will blow you away.
The cool serene power of a glacier field is something that is hard to describe. Being able to climb over and through glaciers is something that pictures can never really give you a sense of.
The Columbia Icefield runs between Jasper and Banff, do not miss it. The glaciers show off the Artic blue hue seen in pictures. If you are feeling adventurous book an ice walk on Athabasca Glacier.
Mount Edith Cavell – my personal favorite place in Alberta!
Mount Edith Cavell is absolutely breathtaking. It surpassed every picture I have ever seen and for a moment I felt like I was in Antarctica. Seeing this massive glacier up close and in person was an experience I will never forget.
The Mount Edith Cavell hike is a very easy one, it is also pretty quick, maybe 20 minutes total? When we went the parking lot was almost completely empty so that is always a good sign.
IMPORTANT: October 15 is when the road to get to Mount Edith Cavell closes for the winter. Make your plans accordingly!
If you do one thing in Jasper National Park, it needs to be this! You can read our full post on Mount Edith Cavell here.
Johnston Canyon Hike
Is Johnston Canyon hike the Best Hike In Banff, Alberta Canada? If not the best, it is definitely in the top three.
Johnston Canyon can get crowded because it’s near the entrance. Make sure to arrive early in the morning, or later in the day – for a more comfortable visit.
Remember, that the sun sets late in the Canadian summer, so even if you start at 6 PM you will have plenty of sunlight. We started at 6 PM and had the place almost to ourselves even on a Saturday in July.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Though often out-shadowed by Banff and Jasper National Parks, Waterton Lakes National Park should not be overlooked. A smaller crowd will allow you to explore the beautiful Red Rock Creek in relative peace.
It is located in a very convenient spot in southwest Alberta bordering Glacier National Park in Montana!
I recommend crossing the border and exploring both parks during one trip. Just make sure you don’t forget to bring your passport so that you can get between the two countries.
I’d advise you to try to see both parks in one visit. But you’ll need to travel between two countries – so don’t forget your passport.
Hike to the Beautiful Blue Glacier Lakes
It’s true that melting glaciers may create some very cold water, but the combination of light refracting of rock flour ground up by the glaciers creates the brilliant emerald glow of these lakes.
Believe it or not – none of these colors are edited or “Photoshoped”, what you see on your screen is what you’ll see when you visit. Three gorgeous examples that are easily accessible from Calgary include: Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, and Petyo Lake. All are located in Banff National Park.