Five Day Trips from Calgary :
Calgary is located in a natural sweet spot. The Canadian Rockies are directly to the west and the great plains of North America are to the east and south. So being in Calgary is like having a foot in two different worlds.
On Saturday you wake up and go hiking in Banff National Park. On Sunday you wake up and walk through hoodoos in the badlands. From Mountain culture to western culture, the following road trip ideas will help you get the most out of southern Alberta.
Cochrane is a small city nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Rocky Mountains just 18 kilometers west of Calgary. Cochrane oozes cowboy country. In fact, with its original wooden commercial buildings on main street, Cochrane almost looks like a movie set.
So when visiting be sure to grab an ice cream at MacKay’s and enjoy the western ambiance. The main attractions in the town or close by include Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane Ranch and the Cochrane Historical Museum.
If Cochrane is thoroughly western, then Canmore is a mountain town. While many people simply pass Canmore on their way to Banff, you do want to make time for this beautiful little town. Canmore is not crowded like Banff and so it’s much easier to get a seat on a patio, relax and enjoy the mountain air. In fact, Canmore is becoming increasingly popular with Calgarians keen to avoid the crush of tourism in Banff and still get that mountain town experience.
And there is no shortage of things to do in Canmore. With world-class biking, hiking, mountain climbing and helicopter touring, Canmore won’t disappoint.
Southern Alberta is world renowned for its natural beauty. Wide open prairies, big skies, badlands and ghost towns await. All of this natural beauty makes for plenty of opportunities for a day tripper from Calgary.
Not only will you find unbelievable natural beauty, but Drumheller has world beating attractions as well. First and foremost is the Royal Tyrrell Museum. In fact, nobody with kids visits Drumheller without going to the world famous Royal Tyrrell Museum. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is one of the few world class museums in Alberta – think Jurassic Park but without the risk of being eaten.
If you want more information on Drumheller, check out my guide to photography in the badlands.
Torrington is not a world famous tourist destination. But if you’re in the area then why not check out the Torrington Gopher Hole Museum. Yup, the Gopher Hole Museum…. that’s what you read. Basically, the Gopher Hole Museum is a series of stuffed gophers posed in different human situations.
While it sounds a little quirky (and it is a little quirky), the Torrington Gopher Hole Museums very existence does illustrate the challenges facing small rural Alberta towns faced with aging demographics and shrinking populations.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site is one of the famous and best preserved buffalo jumps in North America. A buffalo jump was a form of hunting practiced by native peoples that involved driving animals over a cliff face.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump has a beautiful museum and fantastic interpretive walking trails. This is one of the exceptional places to learn about the history and cultures of the peoples that lived in this part of the world before the arrival of Europeans.