Favourite places of summer 2016
Summer might be over on the calendar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a few more adventures this fall, or better yet start planning for next year.
Canada turns 150 in 2017 and entrance to the National Parks will be free. That means they will likely be REALLY busy (as opposed to just really), but their beauty more than compensates for the crowds. Here are some suggestions for my favourite places in Alberta and British Columbia based on my travels this year.
Below is a map of southern BC and Alberta to give you an idea of the general area.
Alberta Provincial Parks
East of Calgary
If badlands and dinosaurs are your thing, along with sweeping views of the prairies, consider either Dinosaur Provincial Park or Writing on Stone Provincial Park. Both of these locations offer unique landscapes, camping by the river, and in the summer, heat. The Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller (north east of Calgary) is also a great place to visit for an up-close experience with dinosaurs. There is an exhibit which features a glass floor, under which are prehistoric sea creatures. My daughter refused to walk over that when she was younger; it is that realistic.
On Highway 40, about an hour west of Calgary, Kananaskis is a great place for camping, hiking and wildlife viewing. Due to its proximity to the city, it can be busy on the weekends, but maybe everyone will be in Banff next summer.
If you are travelling with kids, my favourite campground is Elkwood in Peter Loughheed Park as they have very private sites, hot showers and an amphitheatre with wonderful shows about the flora and fauna in the park (audience participation is fun but optional). Our family has many good memories of s’mores, hikes and riding our bikes for ice cream at the Boulton Creek Trading Post. We also won’t forget seeing a female moose with a calf right beside our van. A few recent posts from Kananaskis are here for your reference: Highwood Pass and Rawson Lake.
Icefields Parkway through Banff and Jasper National Parks – this would be the REALLY busy part.
If you haven’t been to the Rocky Mountains, I would highly recommend the drive up Highway 93 starting west of Banff north to Jasper as there are so many gorgeous spots to visit. Not a fan of crowds, I have yet to get to Moraine Lake near Lake Louise or Maligne Lake near Jasper but the pictures look stunning. If you like waterfalls, Sunwapta and Athabasca Falls are great spots for a short hike and wonderful views. I was there in April 2016 so the lakes were frozen and I could only imagine the beautiful wildflowers.
Waterton Lakes National Park
I am overdue for a journey to Waterton, complete with the purportedly haunted Prince of Wales Hotel (a door mysteriously swung open in front of my son and me during one visit), varied hiking trails and lots of wildlife. For some great photographs, please check out Great Bear Photography. I really enjoy their posts and the photography is stunning!
Yoho National Park
If you like waterfalls and glaciers, this is the park for you. I visited the popular Yoho Valley this summer for my first taste of multi-day hiking and thoroughly enjoyed it. Lake O’Hara is still on my bucket list, although I may skip trying to do that next summer as it is very difficult to get a spot. Hint: go to the Visitor Information Centre in Field, BC and you may find they have cancellations, particularly if the weather forecast looks bad.
British Columbia Parks
Wells Gray Provincial Park
As I mentioned in a recent post, Wells Gray is a spectacular park. You could do the drive from Banff to Jasper and then take Highway 16 further west (stop at Mount Robson, the highest point in the Rockies and the second highest peak in BC), turn south on Highway 5 and head to Clearwater. There are a variety of options for places to stay in the area from camping to B&B’s, a guest ranch which does trail rides (a childhood dream of mine to go horseback riding in the mountains). Something to put on my list for next year…
Had enough of mountain peaks and want some heat and water activities? I am partial to Kelowna as I also live here, but the whole valley offers so much variety. The landscape is very different here and you could feel like you are in Europe or Napa Valley with all of the wineries. I explored a number of spots in the area which featured great views and my favourite for wildlife was Skaha Bluffs just south of Penticton.
Great Bear Rainforest
My goal next summer is to go to the Great Bear Rainforest, and not because Prince William and Kate were there. I am drawn to the area by the temperate rainforest and wildlife viewing opportunities and am hoping that by going there, I will have a better appreciation of the fight between pipelines and conservation. The spot marked on the map is Bella Coola, which you can access by car. A number of blogs which I follow have posted about this location and I share a wonderful write up by StaderArt to whet your appetite.
Enjoy whatever adventures come your way and THANK YOU for reading!