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Best Alberta Road Trips

by Andy Vanr

The Western Canadian province of Alberta is a vast area with a huge diversity of landscapes and wildlife.

See stunning turquoise lakes in the Rocky Mountains, the wide-open prairie grasslands and desert badlands with dinosaur fossils more than 70 million years ago. 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are among the many attractions. Edmonton and Calgary are two world-class cities, with lots of things to see and do.

With this spectacular array of choice in Alberta, we provide lots of options for planning your best Alberta road trip ever.

Best Alberta Road Trips

These are the 4 best Alberta Road Trip destinations:

  1. Edmonton – 3 days
  2. Calgary – 2 days
  3. Banff National Park to Jasper National Park – 5 days
  4. Southern Alberta – 7 days

Choose one or more destinations for your great Alberta Road Trip!

Alberta Destinations Map


Duration: 3 Days

Edmonton is a great summer destination. Discover lots of fun things to do in Alberta’s capital city over 3 fun-filled days.

Explore downtown Edmonton’s cultural and entertainment districts. Learn about Alberta and Edmonton’s history and culture, both past and present. Visit the Royal Alberta Museum and the Art Gallery of Alberta downtown and Fort Edmonton Park in the river valley.

Hike Edmonton’s River Valley, one of the largest urban green spaces in North America, with lots of cool places to discover.

Summer is festival season in Edmonton. Enjoy the Fringe Festival or the Folk Music Festival, just two of the many festival options.

For more details, check out our full article, 14 Fun Things To Do in Edmonton.

Edmonton river valley background Edmonton downtown buildings


Duration: 2 Days

This large city has a small-town, friendly vibe.  It makes a great base for exploring the rest of the province. But first, check out the world-class attractions of this city.

Begin downtown at the Calgary Tower, which stands 190 metres tall.  From its observation deck, see the city skyline and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the distance.  Just east of downtown is Fort Calgary National Historic Site.  There is a replica of a North-West Mounted Police barracks , which houses many exhibits about Calgary’s early history.

Heritage Park is south of downtown Calgary.  This large historical park recreates the settlement of Calgary in the 1800s and early 1900s, including a replica of a Hudson’s Bay Company Fur Trading fort.

Tall concrete tower surrounded by multi-storey buildings
Calgary Tower – Alberta, Canada

On a second day in Calgary, visit the Military Museums, 8 separate museums dedicated to Canada’s Navy, Army and Air Force.

For the adventurous, visit WinSport – Canada Olympic Park to ride in a bobsleigh.

Experience one of Canada’s biggest parties, the Calgary Stampede, a huge rodeo and outdoor extravaganza, held over 10 days in early July every year since 1923.

Banff to Jasper – The Canadian Rocky Mountains

Duration: 5 Days

This incredible self-drive Alberta road trip visits the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

Spend the first two days in the Banff area.  Take the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain and relax in the famous hot springs.  The outdoors beacon with many easy and moderate hiking trails in the region, including nearby Johnston Canyon.  Visit the great museums in the Banff townsite.

On the Day 3 visit Lake Louise to see the iconic turquoise lake.  The best day hike in Banff National Park, the Plain of Six Glaciers, begins at the stunning Chateau Lake Louise.

For details on how to tackle this amazing hike, check out our full article, Plain of Six Glaciers – The Best Lake Louise Hike.

Gravel-sided valley lake mountains distance

The Columbia Ice fields are a must-see attraction on any Banff to Jasper road trip.  On Day 4, ride in an Ice Explorer on top of the Athabasca Glacier.  Experience the thrill of walking on the glacier and drinking pure glacial meltwater.

The final day of this road trip covers Jasper National Park.  Ride the gondola up Whistlers Mountain for excellent views of the townsite below.  There are more hiking opportunities nearby, including the Path of the Glacier Trail to see Angel Glacier

Be sure to check out our complete article Banff to Jasper Road Trip, for more details on this unforgettable Rocky Mountain journey.

Lake Louise surrounded by forest mountains

Southern Alberta Road Trip

Duration: 7 Days

This 7-day road trip of Southern Alberta travels from the Badlands, over the prairies to the Rocky Mountains.

Spend a day in Drumheller at the Royal Tyrrell paleontology museum and drive the Dinosaur Trail Scenic Drive for a closer look at the Badlands.

To the south, explore Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO site where over 49 different species of dinosaur fossils have been discovered.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park has the most significant collection of First Nations rock art in the North American Plains.  Take a guided tour into the Archaeological Preserve, to see the sandstone cliffs with ancient petroglyphs and pictographs.

Spend a day in the beautiful prairie city of Lethbridge.  Begin at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, enjoying a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and a calming walk on the beautiful garden paths.  Later explore the High Level Bridge area to see the architectural marvel and explore the trails and parks in the valley below the  bridge.

For more details on a Lethbridge visit, check out our full article, Things To Do in Lethbridge.

River valley black iron bridge across

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides a fascinating look at the culture and life of the Early Plains People.

Visit the impressive Interpretive Centre, to learn how the Plains people were able to successfully drive the bison over the cliff.  Outside, walk along the cliff top and imagine the frantic activity of the great buffalo hunt many years ago.

For more details on visiting this fascinating jump site, check out our full article about Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

Rock bluff grassy plain above below

Waterton Lakes is a beautiful, diverse Canadian National Park on the Alberta/Montana (USA) border.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, Waterton Lakes National Park is also an International Dark Sky Park.

Cruise Upper Waterton Lake aboard the HV International and enjoy the stunning mountain views. The cruise crosses the USA/Canada border to Glacier National Park in the USA.  There are lots of hiking opportunities in Waterton, including the popular 6-hour Crypt Lake Trail

For more details, check out our full article about visiting Waterton Lakes National Park.

Boat dock lake green-roofed building on hill

Complete the road trip loop through prairie grasslands and return to Calgary.

For more details about this road trip, check out our full article, Southern Alberta Road Trip.

Deer herd prairie river mountains background

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