Alberta Trip Planner and Travel Guide
Experience Alberta on the wild side with my Alberta Trip Planner full of epic content and personal tips to get you inspired.
Alberta is a breathtaking province and a vacation destination you won’t soon forget with high mountains and glacially-fed blue lakes, golden wheat, and bright yellow flowers of canola fields across an endlessly rolling countryside.
Discover remote alpine lakes and glaciers, hidden places that most people never see, not even the Albertans.
Visit the Rocky Mountains with world-famous Banff and Jasper national parks. Head east to the Canadian Badlands and the dinosaurs at Drumheller. Explore the boreal forest and lake lands of the north. Travel through the grasslands and rolling prairies of the south. Refresh in the steaming waters of a natural hot spring.
Small towns in Alberta to visit
Plan your Alberta trip
Travel in Alberta
Alberta is full of natural wonders with its over 250 provincial parks and recreation areas plus five national parks, Banff, Jasper, Waterton, Wood Buffalo and Elk Island, including three world heritage sites. For Alberta trip planning you need to know the basics.
- Park Passes – Park passes are required for entry into any of Canada’s national parks. You can buy them at the park entrance or buy them online. Instead of a single entry pass, Parks Canada Discovery Passes cover admission to more than 80 destinations for 12 months. They are also available at all MEC Mountain Equipment Company locations. Entrance to provincial parks is free.
- Wildlife – Alberta has hundreds of species of wildlife, including elk, moose, bighorn sheep, grizzly bear, bison, cougar and wolf. Pick up brochures at Visitor Information Centres for safety tips and check out Canadian Wildlife – what you need to know for more information.
- Weather and Climate – Alberta is known for sunny days and strong winds. Summer daytime highs are normally 20 to 25°C but can reach the upper 30s. Winter temperatures range from -5 to -15°C. They can drop as low as -30 to -40°C for short periods of time. Read more about the weather and climate here
- Emergency – Fire/Police/Ambulance: 911
- Road Conditions – call #511 – 511.alberta.ca
Alberta Trip Planner and things to know
- What to Pack: Be prepared for all kinds of weather when travelling in Alberta. The weather can change quickly and it’s best to dress in layers in any season.
- Taxes: Alberta is the only province in Canada without a provincial sales tax (PST) which makes travelling in this province a bit more affordable. There is still a five percent government goods and service tax (GST) charged on most purchases. Learn more about Canadian currency.
- Tipping in Canada is expected by food servers, taxi drivers, tour guides, hotel staff and estheticians and is usually not added to your bill.
- Accommodation Guide
- Cell phones – stay connected
- General tips and advice
- Air: International airports in Alberta are Calgary (YYC), Edmonton (YEG), and Fort McMurray (YYM). For more on flights visit How to find cheap flights.
- Car: Alberta is accessible from the east and west by two officially designated Trans-Canada routes. Highway 1 crosses Alberta in the south and Trans-Canada Yellowhead Highway 16 crosses through central Alberta. For north-south travel use the Queen Elizabeth II Highway.
- Train: Via Rail service is available to Edmonton and Jasper. The Rocky Mountaineer runs between Vancouver and Jasper, as well as Banff, Lake Louise and Calgary.
- Getting around Canada guide – complete getting around guide
- Car rental what you need to know
- RV and Camper rental guide
- Bus tours, scheduled coach services and shuttle services are available through various operators. Every city has good public transportation.
- Weather, road construction and other activities result in different highway conditions across Alberta. For road reports dial 511 or visit 511alberta.ca.
Alberta Rocky Mountains
Few mountain ranges are as dramatic as the Canadian Rockies. It’s a vast land filled with inspiring scenery, wildlife, and an abundance of recreational activities. Explore the areas of Jasper, Banff and Waterton Lakes National Parks, as well as less known Kananaskis Country. Many small unique towns and attractions will meet you along the way.
Here you travel through rolling foothills, wide open prairies and stunning badlands, home to the world’s largest deposits of dinosaur bones. Dinosaur Provincial Park and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, are two of Alberta’s five World Heritage Sites. Cypress Hills Provincial Park and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park are also in this region.
Alberta’s heartland stretches from the foothills of the Rockies to an endless of golden plains and aspen parkland east to the Saskatchewan border. Here you feel the lively western heritage and pioneering spirit. Many provincial parks and beautiful historic towns to visit along the way.
Plan your trip to Central Alberta.
A fast land of massive mountain ranges, boreal forests, sweeping grassland, sand dunes and huge rivers. Fly into Wood Buffalo National Park, the world’s largest dark sky preserve for a bucket list experience. Easier to access are Elk Island National Park and Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.
Plan your trip to Northern Alberta
Alberta epic road trips
Road trip travel means freedom of choice and total flexibility. Go where you want, stop anywhere, and detour off the beaten track for the best adventures. The experience of having the open road in front of you is addictive. It’s the best way to experience the amazing province of Alberta.
Road trip itineraries coming soon.
19 Best towns in Alberta
Visiting small towns, meeting locals and exploring surrounding areas are highlights of my travels. Don’t just glance at the town sign on your way through. Stop at the local coffee shop or store and inquire about the area. You will be surprised by what you get.
Alberta is not only an outdoor lover’s paradise, but it also comes with an interesting history. Museums and historic sites around the province show off the beginning of the fur trade 250 years ago and the era of the cowboys and pioneers o the 1800s.
The history of native cultures can be seen at the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre near Fort Macleod and in the petroglyphs and pictographs at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, near Milk River.
Traditions of Aboriginal people are remembered in Edmonton’s Provincial Museum of Alberta and many other smaller museums throughout the province.
Top things to do
Alberta is a nature lover’s paradise with its five National Parks. The Rocky Mountain parks are loaded with outdoor adventures. In summer, ride horses or hike endless trails.
Go for a paddle on Alberta’s scenic lakes or rent a mountain bike and go explore. Whatever you do, watch out for wildlife. Venture north into a land of whitewater, backcountry lodges, and trophy fishing. The possibilities are endless.
Rodeo and the Wild West
Visit the bronc-buckin’ Calgary Stampede, a Wild West exhibition, which is much more than a big-time rodeo. Calgary, the former cow town’s very roots are in ranching and meatpacking.
Thousands of folks gather to watch the rough rodeo and chuckwagon races of the 10 days Calgary Stampede happening each July.
If you’re not into big events, look out for a small-town rodeo instead where you can get up close and it’s much more personal and cheaper.
For many, Alberta is an image of the Wild West, horses and cowboys. Therefore, it is the perfect place to get into the saddle the way the explorers did centuries ago. Riding through alpine meadows or across the wide open prairie on a guided horseback adventure ride will be one of your best memories in the time to come.
Hiking should be included in every Alberta Trip Planner. Alberta’s many parks and trails offer the best and cheapest way to explore new wilderness treasures. The beautiful, diverse landscape offers something for every fitness level. Go for a stroll along a river, or try a day hike on a mountain path. What about taking part in a multi-day hike with a guided tour?
Alberta is also the place to try heli-hiking in the Canadian Rockies’ backcountry. These trips will take you to a secluded wilderness heaven.
- Top guided hikes in Alberta
- Best Canadian maps – for the backcountry to never get lost
- Let us trek Canada and be safe
- Alberta Parks
Camping in Alberta
More and more people find the pleasures of wilderness camping. This means that campgrounds are filling up faster. Therefore planning is the key, especially for camping during July and August. Campsites book up early, especially the popular areas that offer “free” camping on public land in Alberta, locally known as crown land camping. In British Columbia, these campsites are called recreation sites, or forestry campsites.
A Public Lands Camping Pass is required in Alberta. You need to purchase the pass before you embark on your trip, and it costs $20 per person for three days or $30 per person for an annual pass. You can purchase your pass online here.
Winter in Alberta
- In winter, many outfitters offer dog sledding, ice climbing, and heliskiing.
- Or try your luck with ice fishing. Enjoy the comfort of a heated shelter perched on the ice, and wait for a delicious lake trout, walleye, northern pike, perch, or Arctic grayling to gobble your bait. What better adventure than that?
- Take part in a snowmobiling trip and speed through the excellent powder. Sled across frozen lakes and up mountains, through boreal forests, and across wide-open plains. A well-thought-out Alberta Trip Planner for winter travel can get you on fantastic outdoor adventures.
Try something you have never done before, Alberta Canada is the place to do it!
Alberta Highlights along the tourist route
Lake Louise is a major tourist destination in Alberta. It is part of Banff National Park and is on every traveller’s list.
Located nearby is the beautiful Moraine Lake. This spectacular lake is surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks and is less touristy than Lake Louise.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is located at Fort Macleod, where the remains of marked trails, an aboriginal camp, and vast quantities of buffalo skeletons can still be found. They are evidence of a custom practiced by aboriginal people for nearly 6,000 years.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about a 2 1/2 hour drive southeast of Calgary. The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller is housing one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs. You can easily spend a whole day at the museum to educate yourself.
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