Southern Alberta

Photographer
Joanne Elves

Southern Alberta

Southern Alberta has a rich mix of prehistoric history, First Nations culture, and encompasses towns with attractions as unique as a Japanese Garden or an energetic cafe culture. Wandering around Southern Alberta’s Badlands is an otherworldly experience unlike anything you’ve seen. Every crag and fissure tells the story of a prehistoric past. This is the kind of experience you can really lose yourself in, feeling as if you’ve landed on another planet. It’s also a place you can get a hands-on learning experience by joining a real-live dinosaur bone dig. The rich heritage of Southern Alberta is deeply entrenched in the sights found in the cities and towns that make up the region. In Drumheller, wander through the hoodoos in Dinosaur Provincial park and also learn about a prehistoric past, and camp where extinct creatures once roamed. For another fascinating immersion into a different kind of history, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is set on the backdrop of 6,000-year-old escarpment that tells the story of the buffalo that were sacrificed for the indigenous Blackfoot peoples. You can even get a an immersive experience taking part in a simulated buffalo jump. Meanwhile, in the city of Medicine Hat, called Canada’s sunniest city, you can attend unique art events like the Tongue on the Post Festival in winter, inside an old pottery factory, or learn the art of drawing in chalk at the Chalk Art Festival in summer.

Province
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    As we pulled our minivan into the parking lot at Dinosaur Provincial Park, we couldn’t help but feel a twinge of excitement about our upcoming Fossil Safari Tour.

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    In front of me, on a polished long table in a refurbished industrial building on the outskirts of Medicine Hat, sits a piece of wood cut in the shape of the province of Alberta.

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    Everybody loves the mountains, but nobody likes the long drive out to see them. If you make the trek, you’ll often find yourself among throngs of tourists, standing in queues from sunrise to sunset. It’s a beautiful landscape, but one full of selfie sticks, elbow bumping and mounting frustration.

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    The Cypress Hills rise 600 metres above the surrounding prairies making them the highest point between the Canadian Rockies and the East Coast. The unique mix of climate, geography, and ecosystems create a home for an extensive diversity of plants and animals. The entire area is also steeped in rich history with archeological evidence confirming human habitation as far back as 8,500 years.

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    “This is one of the tougher routes I run,” says Chris Humphries as we finish warming up. “The hills are killer, and they sneak up on you,” he says of the route that makes up Medicine Hat’s popular Conquer the Ridge half marathon.

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    Nestled in the southern Canadian Rockies, the Crowsnest Pass – or fondly referred to as “The Pass,” boasts spectacular scenery, a rich coal mining history, friendly communities, and great hiking. Whether you’re just passing through and want a short hike to break up the drive, or have a weekend to bag some peaks, there is a wide range of trails in The Pass that will take your breath away. With so many hikes to choose from, I called upon local residents, Pam Drover and Heather Davis, to help select the top 5 hikes in the Crowsnest Pass.