Days 2 to 7
Pick up your rental RV and start discovering Alberta! If you’re visiting in July, don’t miss the festivities surrounding the famous Calgary Stampede, the biggest open-air rodeo in the world. Nicknamed Cowtown, the city welcomes this festival every year. Lasting ten days, it includes a variety of events, including concerts, rodeos, horse dressage competitions, marching bands and a large parade. An unforgettable experience—western attire is not mandatory!
From Calgary, various, different itineraries around Alberta are possible. Between the Canadian Rockies in the north-west to the mythical Cowboy Trail running from north to south and the prehistoric treasures of the Badlands, there’s something for every type of traveller.
To the west, on route 1, towards the Canadian Rockies and its can’t-miss attractions.
Banff is an exceptional destination in a sublime natural setting, known as Canada’s highest city at an altitude of 1,372 metres. Take the Gondola up for a panoramic view of Banff and its historic Fairmont hotel. Banff is also known for its hot springs; make sure to soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Soon, you’ll face Lake Louise, the most visited glacial lake in Canada and the most photographed in the world thanks to its unreal turquoise waters between May and September. Banff National Park is one of Canada’s must-see destinations, with its spectacular views, kilometres of hiking trails and breathtaking landscapes. It is also a designated UNESCO site since 1985.
Between Lake Louise and Jasper, you’ll follow a panoramic road that will take your breath away for 230km. The scenery is defined by clear-water lakes, majestic mountains, and endless verdant forests. You might even cross bighorn sheep, moose and elk… it’s paradise for lovers of flora and fauna! Shaped like a wolf’s head, Peyto Lake is definitely worth a detour.
On the way, a visit to the Athabasca Glacier is a must, 3,000 metres high, located within the Columbia Icefield. You can reach the summit aboard a specialized vehicle to admire the lunar-like landscape. You can also head to the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, a brand-new attraction. A stop at the Athabasca Falls lets you admire a canyon and its towering walls. Near Jasper, don’t miss Maligne Lake, the biggest glacial lake in the world, spanning 23km. Enchanting Maligne Canyon invites you to disconnect and breathe in cool, fresh air.
To the north, Jasper charms with its authentic architecture, boutiques and restaurants ideal for all visitors. Located along the famous TransCanadian railway, the city is an important railway centre. While walking around, you might be surprised by elks strolling along the roads. Wildlife invites itself to the city…
To the east, you’ll arrive in Edmonton, a dynamic city known for the West Edmonton Mall, one of the biggest shopping centres in North America. The Legislative Assembly, known as The Ledge, is a building composed of marble and limestone and is a must-see to understand the history of the province. Location along the Saskatchewan River, Edmonton is a green city, with its many gardens welcoming all visitors. You can wander in hip and historic neighbourhoods like Old Strathcona, between murals and food markets ready to satisfy all cravings.
In the north-east, the TransCanadian Highway towards the east will bring you to the Badlands where a different natural landscape awaits, defined by surprising rock formations, time-worn canyons and unexpected historic sites. Visit the Dinosaur Provincial Park to discover a cemetery of over 300 dinosaurs, a UNESCO site since 1979.
Further north, on the road to Drumheller, stop in Wayne for the Last Chance Saloon before driving on. Don’t miss the hoodoos, also known as fairy chimneys, to immerse yourself in a spectacular natural setting. Nearby, the Horseshoe Canyon serves up untamed wilderness. The Hoodoo Trail runs along the Red Deer River until Drumheller, the Dinosaur Capital of the World. A life-size Tyrannosaurus waits for you in front of the visitor centre. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a must-see, with its amazing collection of fossils calling all paleontology enthusiasts. The collection is one of the biggest in the world.
From north to south, route 22 follows the mythical Cowboy Trail, showcasing country culture between ranches, prairies and cowboy villages. To the south, the Bar U Ranch, a national historic site, is a typical western Canadian ranch built in 1882. Expect various traditional activities in a stunning setting. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is surrounded by truly authentic western décor. This towering cliff from where Blackfoot tribes drove buffalo is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Further south, the Waterton Lakes National Park sits where the Prairies meet the Rocky Mountains.