Province Code

Surrounded by prairies, historical sites, and the Rocky Mountains, Pincher Creek often gets left out of a traveller's itinerary. That can happen when there are so many beautiful sites nearby – like Alberta’s newest provincial park – Castle. People stop for gas and keep driving, but they shouldn’t because there’s lots going on here. You just have to walk around town, talk to the locals, look a little deeper, and you’ll be in the know.

Growing up in a small prairie town in the ‘80s, like I did, you had to make your own fun. It was an era of fast cars, wild fashion and some pretty darn good rock and roll. Probably a good thing most of us were too young to drive. But that doesn’t mean we’re too old to party now. And Three Hills gives you licence to let loose.

Purple wildflowers carpet the grassy hillsides as the morning sun warms the Waterton Lakes valley. In the distance, we see a mother bear carefully watching over her three frolicking cubs on a closed trail below Bears Hump on Mt. Crandell.

Not sure what I expected when I selected Level 2 on the power mode switch. Helmet strapped on, I took my first pedal stroke and with a surprising burst of energy my electric assist mountain bike burst to life. Now that’s more like it.

Rolling prairie hills and grasslands abruptly give way to the montane forest and mountains of the Canadian Rockies as we drive westbound. The Castle wilderness almost appeared as a line across the land where it was decided the prairie would become towering mountains. It was here drove into Castle Provincial Park.

The mighty Canadian Rockies thrust themselves upward abruptly from the soft rolling landscape of the Alberta prairies as we turned into the Waterton Lakes National Park driving from Lethbridge. Honestly, the anticipation of rounding the corner and laying first sight on the iconic Prince of Wales hotel.

As you head east through Central Alberta, through Red Deer County from Highway 2 to 2A to Highway 21, the towns seem to get progressively smaller and the space in between get wider. No — not wider, that doesn’t quite capture it. Bigger, broader, more open and expansive. I don’t know if there’s a single word that exists to explain the sensation: the feeling of leaving behind the urban buzz of modern life for the solitude of wind blowing through long grass. This is prairie-raised Alberta writer W.O. Mitchell’s territory, out beyond where the sidewalk ends.  

Mirror is place where you have to slow down, take your time and appreciate the finer things of rural living, like heirloom furniture, hardy vegetables, bright flowers, horse riding, fresh homemade baking and downhome rural Albertan hospitality.

Mainstreet marquees, heritage buildings, boutique shops, craft stores, cafes and good restaurants anchor downtown, the Camrose County Nature Conservation Centre and Miquelon Lake Provincial Park give reign to the wilds just beyond town limits.

Ask for recommendations on where to go for a quick romantic getaway in Alberta, and the hamlet of Trochu probably won’t top the list. But somehow, like a hot prairie day that slow cooks a sultry evening tempest, the town has simmered into a romantic getaway destination.