The slogan “We Are Winter” is great for Canada’s winter Olympians. We are a land of snow and ice and when it comes to watching our athletes dominate during those games, I’m proud of that slogan that owns our frozen heritage.
But I love summer more.
Long days mean more time to explore from sea to sea to sea. That’s what a Canadian summer is all about. Here are some of my favorite places to explore in Alberta. Whether it’s for a day, a weekend, or a week, here’s how to celebrate the summer
ASPEN BEACH PROVINCIAL PARK
Aspen Beach Provincial Park is Alberta’s first provincial park and it’s no wonder they preserved this area first. The sand on the shores of Gull Lake is soft, the water has a long, shallow entrance, and it’s perfect for digging, splashing, and playing. There are playgrounds, picnic areas, campsites, and more. We don’t have many public lakes close to Calgary to splash in, this one offers the best summer experience I’ve had.
Whether the weather is perfect and sunshiney, or we get one of our stormy spells on the prairies, taking a day to go to the Drumheller Valley is the perfect way to spend a summer day. From wandering hoodoos to hunting fossils to exploring ghost towns, there’s more than a dozen things to do with your squad or families in this area.
WRITING-ON-STONE PROVINCIAL PARK
There are many reasons why Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is often picked as the best campground in Alberta. It nestled in a quiet valley along the Milk River. There hoodoos to explore, the history of the Blackfoot pictographs on the hills offers wonderful historical perspective, and it’s just a beautiful place to get away from the city and celebrate summer.
JASPER PARK LODGE
“Half the fun is getting there,” doesn’t begin to describe the journey to Jasper Park Lodge. Coming from Calgary, you’re taking the Icefields Parkway, easily the most scenic drive in Canada. Crashing glaciers, soaring mountains, curious wild life and more await around every corner. Once you get to Jasper the experience continues. The JPL is one of Canada’s classic hotels and you can stay in cabins, rent a canoe, go for a hike, or play golf on Canada’s best course.
WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK
From easy climbs kids can summit to some of the best hikes in the country to alpine lakes to cold water creeks to wildlife to a townsite to an old hotel, Waterton has something to explore for those who like to rough it or glamp it.
There are many places to get your mountain on in Alberta. The tourists will flock to Banff and Lake Louise, that’s a given. A visit to those epic mountains is the quintessential “Canadian experience” that tourists seek. But locals love those Rockies too, so it’s why we head south to Waterton, north to Jasper, or if you want a shorter excursion, you turn left in Canmore and explore K Country. The mountains just as towering, the lakes just as pristine, the hikes just as wonderful, the crowds non existent.
Ice cream shops, museums, small town markets, Nanton has it all. You could really substitute any small town in Alberta (or Canada) as a way to spend a summer day. Just drive for an hour, and pull over to the next town. In Calgary, heading south, that’s Nanton. It’s a cute place home to big planes, cold ice cream, and enough distractions to have a great day.