Calgary is home to some of the trendiest craft bars, charming boutiques,entertaining nightlife and most livable neighbourhoods in Canada. But while many of these fun places and activities are currently inaccessible, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what Canada has to offer.
Calgary and the surrounding Alberta is the perfect location for an old-fashioned road trip. Flanked by the Wild West, the picturesque prairies and the soaring Rocky Mountains, each way you turn, you’ll be met with expansive vistas longing to be explored. Head out of Calgary to hit the wide-open roads and experience all Canada has to offer, all from the comfort and safety of your car or the open outdoors. Here’s our pick of the best (and safest!) road trips in Canada during the pandemic.
You can’t create a list of Canada’s best road trips without mentioning one of the most famous routes. Begin by heading west on the 1A from Calgary until the road connects to Highway 22, AKA The Cowboy Trail. One of Canada’s most scenic routes, the road snakes its way through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the charming Canadian prairies.
An ode to Canada’s Wild West, pass by multiple ranches in all their cowboy glory as wild horses canter across the open plains. Stop at the Chain Lakes Provincial Park to catch some of its famous lake trout, or hike along one of the many inviting paths to take in the stunning mountain views.
2. Banff National Park
If you’ve ever come across a glossy magazine cover detailing stories about Canada’s beautiful towns, chances are you’ve seen Banff. Head west along the Trans Canada Highway for about 90 minutes until you reach the city. Canada’s best-loved mountain town is nestled amongst soaring peaks, serene lakes and sweeping valleys. The town itself is lovely to explore, but just outside lies the enchanting Banff National Park.
The park is situated beneath the foothills of Mount Norquay, where you’ll find the stunning Vermillion Lakes and the Cascade Ponds. Head on to Fairmont Banff Springs, where you can explore the grounds, then hike up to Surprise Corner to view the ‘Castle in the Rockies’ — an ancient building stretching up out of the wilderness. Don’t miss the Johnston Canyon, complete with its cascading waterfalls and calm, magical pools.
3. Waterton Lakes National Park
Home to some of Canada’s most mountainous landscapes, Waterton Lakes National Park is another excellent destination for a road trip. Head south to explore the dramatic Rockies and quaint vistas of the old-town prairies, and when you reach the lake, hop in a canoe and drift across the still waters or hike to your heart’s content.
After you’ve explored the lake, head on down to Pincher Creek, about an hour away, where you can easily spend a few days simply driving, exploring the picturesque landscape dotted with Wild West ranches. Cattle grazing in the nearby fields, windmills circling along the vast open plains. It’s like a scene out of an old western movie.
4. Dinosaur Provincial Park
A road trip in Alberta wouldn’t be the same unless you made a stop at the legendary Dinosaur Provincial Park. Head west into the heart of the Alberta Badlands to reach this famed UNESCO World Heritage Site. At just over a 2-hour drive, you’ll want to start early so that you have ample time to explore the grounds.
Like a scene straight out of The Lost World, the otherworldly landscape of Dinosaur Provincial Park will take your breath away. Spot real dinosaur bones as you hike around the park, wonder at the deep fantasy landscapes of colourful rock formations, towering hoodoos and grassy plains. And if you like, you can even camp in the park itself.
Our last location on the list is Drumheller — an excellent destination and one of the best and safest road trips you can take during the pandemic. About an hour and a half north-east of Calgary, Drumheller is an epic road trip, with a journey that’s easily as captivating as the destination.
Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for the giant hoodoos. These peculiar sandstone formations aren’t hard to miss, as they perch high on the rocks, like natural pieces of art rising up through the vast landscape. If you’re looking for impressive views, make a stop at Horse Thief Canyon. This captivating landscape can be enjoyed at any time of day, but visiting at sunset is extra special — the perfect way to end a road trip.
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