See Alberta: A 10-Day Urged Driving Itinerary

The peaceful scenery of Banff, Alberta
Posted: 7/6/20 | July sixth, 2020

Dalene and Pete Heck, the duo behind Hecktic Travels can also be the staff at Highway Journey Alberta! Dalene and Pete are Alberta raised and at present residing within the province’s third-biggest metropolis, Lethbridge. Alberta is without doubt one of the most scenic provinces in Canada and, at the moment, Dalene shares a driving itinerary hitting a lot of her favourite Alberta sights.

Arguably Canada’s most lovely province, Alberta is thought primarily for the mountain hub of Banff Nationwide Park. Thousands and thousands descend yearly on Calgary airport after which high-tail it west for an hour and a half to go to this gem of the Rockies. The draw of Banff is fully warranted however many of those guests typically miss out on the whole lot else that Alberta has to supply.

Its cities are dynamic, different mountain cities are simply as attractive and with fewer vacationers, the southeastern aspect of the province is dwelling to a trove of dinosaur bones, and the north is roofed in lush forests and teeming with wildlife and out of doors adventures keen available.

As a born-and-raised Albertan, I left in my early thirties to see extra of the world, craving exploration. After I returned virtually a decade later, I did so with contemporary eyes and an appreciation for the land that formed me.

This text outlines a ten-day highway journey itinerary shares a few of my favourite spots within the province that can assist you to see greater than crowds of vacationers in Banff!

Day 1: Calgary

The towering skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada in the autumn

Dubbed “Cowtown” as a consequence of its roots within the cattle business, Calgary is Alberta’s largest metropolis (1.37 million folks). Balancing fashionable city structure with pleasant, small-town vibes, Calgary is a curious melting pot of parents from many backgrounds. It’s additionally dwelling to an array of actions and a classy meals scene that can be certain that your days and tummies are full.

Begin Downtown
Discover the Bow River’s community of strolling and biking trails. See the prime picture spot of the Peace Bridge. For an additional prime picture op and to gaze upon an architectural surprise, don’t miss the Calgary Public Library, which was named one of many 100 Best Locations of 2019 by Time journal.

Not removed from the library is Prince’s Island Park, which is a hub for cultural occasions. It’s dwelling to the Calgary People Music Competition (in late July) and the esteemed River Café (a dear restaurant however nicely value it), and close to to Eau Claire Market, which has some mouth-watering eats and specialty merchandise.

Gasoline Up on Good Eats
Don’t miss out on Tubby Canine for an inexpensive, scrumptious, and enjoyable meal? Play some traditional arcade video games whilst you attempt the Sumo (a canine with pickled ginger, Japanese mayo, wasabi, and seaweed salad) or the A-bomb (a canine with all of the traditional trimmings, plus a wholesome dump of potato chips proper on prime). One other considered one of my faves is Native Tongues, which affords upscale Mexican meals within the metropolis middle.

Contemplate Planning Your Go to Round These Festivals
The Calgary Stampede — also referred to as “the best out of doors present on earth” — takes over the town for ten days in early July. The world-class rodeo is only one side of the occasion. There’s additionally a spectacular grandstand present plus all of the rides and deep-fried pageant meals you’d anticipate. It’s additionally an enormous, messy social gathering too.

Beakerhead, held yearly in mid-September, brings collectively the worlds of artwork, science, and engineering. Think about an enormous social gathering full of fire-shooting robots, an interactive science lesson on the best way to make the most effective chocolate chip cookie, and enjoying an enormous life-sized model of Snakes & Ladders. It’s the most effective nerd social gathering of the 12 months.

The place to remain in Calgary

  • Canada’s Finest Worth Inn Chinook Station – Positioned close to the Chinook LRT Station, this lodge incorporates a continental breakfast, with rooms obtainable beginning as little as $49 CAD/evening.
  • HI Calgary Metropolis Centre – In case you occur to be a member of HI Canada, contemplate this hostel, situated within the downtown core, only a two-minute stroll to the C-train (native transit) station.
  • Resort Arts – For extra upscale and eclectic lodging close to downtown, this lodge has top-rated facilities for an inexpensive value.


Day 2: Banff

The picturesque city of Banff, Alberta, Canada with mountains in the distance
Subsequent, head from Calgary to Banff, which takes about an hour and a half by automobile.

Observe: You’ll have to buy a park go upon arrival on the gates simply outdoors of city, or you possibly can purchase one on-line. The present day by day fee for an grownup is $9.80 CAD, and it’ll expire at 4:00 pm the next day.

In case you’re planning on visiting a number of parks, you would possibly contemplate a Parks Canada “Discovery Cross” for $67.70 CAD, which can be utilized for a number of days and can grant you entry to all Canadian nationwide parks for one full 12 months.

There are too many wonderful hikes to record, however begin with the enduring Johnston Canyon. Preserve it quick with a 30-minute stroll to the Decrease Falls, or plan for a full four-hour trek all the best way to the Ink Pots. (For more information, learn this information to climbing in Banff.)

To essentially get the adrenaline pumping, head to Mt. Norquay for the Through Ferrata hike. Cross suspension bridges and climb ladders on the sting of a mountain, all whereas safely harnessed and led by an skilled information.

There are additionally loads of choices for canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding on a variety of close by lakes. Go to the Banff Canoe Membership on the town for leases.

Winter is a primary time to go to if you happen to’re a ski bunny. Three mountains within the space recognized collectively as Ski Large 3 (Banff Sunshine, the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay) are all world-class.

You should definitely take the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain for some epic views. It’s open year-round, and it has a formidable interpretive middle and scenic boardwalk on the prime, and even two eating places.

Close by can also be the gorgeous Banff Higher Sizzling Springs.

The place to Wat
Wild Flour Bakery, recognized for its nourishing baked items and good espresso, is a superb cease to fill your tank at any time of day.

Wanting to attempt some Canadian wild meats? Head to the Grizzly Home to cook dinner up your individual bison, elk, or a variety of different choices utilizing a scorching stone at your desk. The decor is severely outdated, however the expertise is a must-do. Not a meat-eater? Head to Nourish Bistro for the most effective plant-based meals in Banff.

The place to Keep in Banff

  • Banff Worldwide Hostel – Just some blocks from the center of downtown, this hostel is a snug place to relaxation your head after an extended day of exploring!
  • YWCA Banff Resort – The proper hideaway within the mountains for these searching for a snug and budget-friendly lodging.
  • HI Banff Alpine Centre – In case you’re a member of the HI group, it’s possible you’ll need to keep at this location, the most important hostel in Alberta.


Day 3: Banff and Lake Louise

Lake Louise and Banff at night under a starry sky
In case you’re an early riser, head 15 minutes north to Two Jack Lake to catch a beautiful dawn. If it’s a clearer morning, shiny pink, orange, and purple will stain the sky and lake, silhouetting the mountain and creating a very epic sight.

If there was something left in your to-do record from the day earlier than, end that up now, however plan for nearly a complete day round Lake Louise.

Whereas in Lake Louise….
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the key draw within the space, and strolling its halls is a should earlier than you enterprise on any variety of out of doors actions.

In case you are there in summer time, contemplate the Lake Agnes Tea Home hike for its views and the distinctive expertise of taking tea on prime of the world (keep in mind to carry money, as they don’t produce other fee choices on-site). It’s a quick 2.2mile (3.5 km) hike, however you can too proceed on to Lake Agnes itself.

Feeling adventurous? Then take “the Tea Home Problem” and go to the opposite one, too, The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea Home, for a 9 mile (14.5 km) complete hike on the Highline Path.

In case you are there in winter, skating, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, sleigh rides, and extra are all obtainable from the lodge. You’ll have no downside filling your day in one of the vital lovely spots in all of Canada.

Eating choices are fewer within the very small city of Lake Louise, however discover the Trailhead Café for a budget-friendly and supremely scrumptious meal. There are additionally a number of choices contained in the Chateau itself, however I like to recommend Alpine Social for its laid-back ambiance and hearty meals.

Day 4: Driving from Banff to Jasper

The beautiful landscape of Alberta, Canada between Banff and Jasper
Drive from Banff to Jasper through the Icefields Parkway. The drive itself is about 3.5 hours, however I recommend that you simply plan for a complete day as there are many stops to make alongside the best way.

The Icefields Parkway is breathtaking. Take it gradual and cease typically to actually take up the great thing about at the present time. (Do, nevertheless, seek the advice of the climate forecast and highway circumstances, as it will possibly typically be closed in winter.)

Making the Drive
Refill the automobile with fuel and pack a picnic lunch earlier than leaving Banff, as there is just one place to cease for snacks en route (Saskatchewan River Crossing) however it’s closed in winter. However as soon as you might be safely in your manner, listed here are just some of the stops you may make:

  • Go away early to catch dawn over Vermillion Lakes, simply outdoors of Banff as you start your journey north.
  • Peyto Lake is a must-see. You’ve undoubtedly seen its picture earlier than; now it’s time to see it for your self! Out of your automobile it’s only a quick stroll up a hill to get to the point of view and soak up that stark aquamarine water from above.
  • The Columbia Icefield, simply an hour earlier than Jasper, is the most important within the Canadian Rockies. You possibly can take a tour to stroll proper on the glacier and/or take a stroll on the glass-floored Icefield Skywalk lookout to see the whole lot from above.

There may be rather more to see! This Banff-to-Jasper article maps all of it out for you.

The place to Keep in Jasper

  • Jasper Downtown Hostel – Conveniently located within the coronary heart of downtown Jasper, this contemporary hostel gained’t break the financial institution; its non-public rooms begin as little as $63 CAD/evening.
  • HI Jasper – Only a quick stroll to downtown, the HI Hostel Jasper was opened in June 2019. Select between non-public rooms, shared rooms for 4, and household rooms.
  • Maligne Lodge – Conveniently tucked on the fringe of Jasper’s foremost avenue, the place the mountains finish and the city begins, this can be a nice budget-friendly lodge.


Days 5 & 6: Jasper

The huge elk standing near a small lake in Alberta, Canada near Jasper
Jasper is the most important park within the Canadian Rockies and considered one of fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Websites within the nation. Rougher across the edges than its southern brother Banff, it’s the spot to hit if you happen to’re craving fewer crowds and small-town appeal.

Spirit Island is without doubt one of the most photographed spots in Canada. You possibly can canoe on the market and attain this spot on Maligne Lake in half a day. In case you don’t really feel like doing that, boat cruises can be found too!

Furthermore, make the most of your distant location and guide a tour to see some iconic Canadian wildlife (bears, elk, mountain goats, moose, and extra). Whereas such encounters could happen by likelihood in your go to, a guided tour will enhance your probabilities and is a good way to achieve native information.

Moreover, in October, the Jasper Darkish Sky Competition takes place.The park has excellent circumstances for this given that there’s so little mild air pollution. In case you can’t make it there, the Jasper Planetarium is open year-round for star viewing.

There are such a lot of climbing choices. Begin with a brief jaunt to Athabasca Falls (lower than an hour round-trip), after which ramp up in response to your health stage. (See this text about greatest Jasper hikes to resolve what comes subsequent.)

Simply north of city is Maligne Canyon, and in winter, you possibly can stroll on and discover the frozen river (make certain you’ve gotten ice cleats on). In the summertime, you possibly can hike within the canyon, and the winding path has six suspension bridges spanning the gorge.

Take a load off and trip up the Jasper Skytram to expertise the most effective mountain views. On a transparent day, you possibly can even see peaks in neighboring British Columbia. Benefit from the seven-minute trip up and have a chew on the Summit Restaurant on the prime.

Cease on the Brilliant Spot Household Restaurant for the large nation breakfast, which is able to follow your bones and provide you with vitality to your day. Whistle Cease Pub can also be good for a pint and snack. Canada’s very first nationwide park brewery, Jasper Brewing Firm, can also be right here. Together with six signature brews which might be made on-site, the massive restaurant affords elevated pub fare.

Day 7: Driving from Jasper to Edmonton

The stunning vista between Jasper and Edmonton in Alberta, Canada
The four-hour drive from Jasper to Edmonton will not be essentially the most thrilling (the scenic views drop off shortly outdoors of the nationwide park), however there are a few stops you may make alongside the best way to spice it up.

In case you don’t hit up Miette Sizzling Springs throughout your keep in Jasper, then it’s a straightforward cease on the best way out of city. It’s dwelling to the most popular spring water within the Canadian Rockies! It requires just a little detour off of the principle freeway, however the drive by the Fiddle Valley alone makes it well worth the journey.

An hour into your journey, you may make a cease in Hinton to see essentially the most iconic of native wildlife: the standard beaver. Stretch your legs alongside the almost 2 mile (Three km) Beaver Boardwalk, and hopefully, you’ll spot Canada’s nationwide animal.

That is additionally an important place to plan to have lunch: The Previous Grind has an intensive menu that features vegetarian and vegan choices.

Arriving in Edmonton
Relying on what time you left Jasper, the driving circumstances you encountered (add extra time in winter!), and what number of stops you made alongside the best way, it’s possible you’ll arrive with further time to discover Alberta’s capital metropolis. And my guess is that these car-bound legs are going to wish a stretch.

As you drive into the west aspect of Edmonton, this could be the right event to take an extended stroll within the largest mall in North America. West Edmonton Mall is dwelling to over 800 tales and companies, and it incorporates theme parks, a number of film theaters, a ridiculously enjoyable indoor water park, and even a big skating rink.

Having fun with the mall can simply take up the remainder of your day (and the subsequent one, if you’re a client).

Days 8 & 9: Edmonton

The skyline of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada during autumn
Teeming with historical past and tradition wealthy as scorching chocolate, Alberta’s capital metropolis is the right technique to end off your tour of the province. Edmonton has been dubbed “the pageant metropolis” on account of its year-round cultural festivals, so that you’ll by no means be quick on matters to do right here.

The Fringe Competition is the largest and oldest of its sort in North America and affords a dynamic theater expertise. Working yearly for ten days in the midst of August, it typically attracts greater than 1,500 native, nationwide, and worldwide artists, who give nicely over a thousand performances throughout the town.

The Silver Skate Competition is turning into one of many premier occasions in Alberta to have a good time and embrace winter. One spotlight is the opening of the ice castles in Hawrelak Park, usually a number of weeks earlier than the February pageant. In the course of the ten days of the pageant itself, anticipate snow sculpting, skate races, helicopter excursions, and extra.

In case you aren’t in Edmonton throughout a pageant, take time and stroll by the grounds of the Alberta Legislature. Not solely is “the Ledge” an architectural journey into the previous (building was began in 1907) however you can too study concerning the Canadian authorities, Alberta’s political historical past, and the artwork and structure of the constructing by taking a free tour.

Edmonton’s river valley is the most important city park in North America, with 100 miles (160 kms) of maintained paths. So that you don’t even have to depart the town itself to discover nature! Stroll and cycle so far as you want, taking in any (or all) of the 20 metropolis parks alongside the river.

Head for the Neon Signal Museum one evening. This assortment of 20 purposeful historic indicators tells the story of Edmonton’s neon previous al fresco. This exhibit is totally free and open 24/7.

In case you didn’t get your wildlife fill within the Rockies, then head a brief distance outdoors of the town to Elk Island Nationwide Park. Elk Island is the one fenced nationwide park in Canada, a conservation effort to assist carry the bison inhabitants again.

And also you didn’t suppose I’d go this complete submit with out mentioning a hockey sport, did you? The Edmonton Oilers play in one of many latest arenas within the NHL, so catch a sport if you happen to can, particularly if they’re enjoying their provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames.

In case you are visiting in summer time, you can too watch a heated Canadian soccer (not soccer) battle between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders.

Can’t-Miss Meals and Drink
Cease at Duchess Bake Store. This Parisian-inspired café blends a few of Alberta’s favourite flavors with French pastries, all constituted of scratch day by day. It’s commonly talked about as the most effective cafés within the metropolis.

Hathaway’s Diner has high quality meals at affordable costs. And who doesn’t love old-school-diner kitsch?

Just a few years in the past, Alberta’s tax system modified up the best way it categorized breweries, which resulted in an explosion of craft beer throughout the province. Don’t miss a cease at Craft Beer Market because it affords up Canada’s largest number of craft brews.

The place to Keep in Edmonton

  • HI Edmonton – Positioned simply off of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton’s historic Previous Strathcona neighborhood, this hostel is correct close to the river valley park system (additionally many bus stops to get to different locations).
  • Days Inn Downtown – Conveniently situated within the downtown core and solely minutes away from native points of interest, this lodge is a superb possibility for these not wanting to surrender consolation whereas staying on funds.


Day 10: Driving to Calgary

One of the funny displays in the Gopher Hole Museum in Alberta, Canada
It solely takes three hours to drive from Edmonton to Calgary on a busy freeway. Use your final day to go to extra of Calgary.

In case you have time, go to the Heritage Ranch close to Purple Deer (about midway by the drive). A rancher will drop you off in the midst of the wilderness with a map and a compass (or a GPS). Your objective is to stay at massive and seize 4 designated flags inside an hour. All of the whereas, you might be being hunted by a person on a horse. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and the whole lot in between!

A bit nearer to Calgary, you possibly can flip off the principle freeway into Torrington and discover the Gopher Gap Museum. Gopher overpopulation is an issue within the space, and so the residents wished to create one thing quirky to usher in vacationers. The museum is one small room of taxidermied rodents staged in quite a lot of scenes that spotlight native life (suppose curling gophers, beautician gophers, and so forth.). It should take not more than a half-hour to go to, however it’s nicely well worth the detour for all of the WTF moments available.


Alberta is a really large province. By comparability, Texas is barely 2% greater. If it’s the mountains that decision you right here, then that’s rightly so, however I hope additionally, you will take the time to discover different elements of this land wealthy in points of interest. They are going to maintain anybody and everybody entertained for ten days and past!

Dalene Heck and her husband Pete are behind the weblog Hecktic Travels, which chronicles their journey since promoting all their belongings in 2009. They’ve not too long ago began the web site Highway Journey Alberta to encourage folks to go to their dwelling provence.

E-book Your Journey to Canada: Logistical Suggestions and Tips

E-book Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite engines like google as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned.

E-book Your Lodging
You possibly can guide your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep elsewhere, use as they persistently return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low-cost accommodations.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you towards sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes mistaken. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite firms that provide the most effective service and worth are:

In search of the most effective firms to save cash with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most effective firms to make use of once you journey! I record all those I take advantage of to save cash after I journey – and I believe will assist you to too!gho

Need Extra Info on Canada?
You should definitely go to our strong vacation spot information on Canada for much more planning suggestions!

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