Through the Rocky Mountains and the Prairie
Alberta is well known to travelers – here are the world-famous Banff and Jasper National Parks in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. But what on earth do you want in Saskatchewan as a tourist? You will be surprised, the province is definitely worth a visit.
After a first night in Calgary we start our round trip in Banff. We take the cable car up Sulphur Mountain and climb Tunnel Mountain in the afternoon. Coffee is served at the Fairmont Banff Springs – one of the luxury hotels still missing so far in our collection. On the beautiful Bow Valley Parkway we finally reach Lake Louise, the touristic heart of the Canadian Rockies.
Hiking from Lake Louise up to the Lake Agnes Tea House is a must, as well as a visit to the noble Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The following drive on the Icefields Parkway (about 230 km) is certainly one of the highlights of this tour; this time we experience the deep blue lakes, the incredible mountains and the glaciers in bright sunshine. Jasper, at the end of the panoramic road, is the northern gateway to the parks.
We turn east and follow the Yellowhead Highway through a lonely landscape to Edmonton; two days are quite adequate for Alberta’s capital. After a trip to Elk Island National Park (with a large herd of bison), we continue to Vegreville, a most interesting small town with Ukrainian roots. In Lloydminster – the city lies exactly on the provincial border – we finally reach the province of Saskatchewan, a new territory for us.
Beyond North Battleford, Canada’s breadbasket begins with its historic grain elevators, the “cathedrals of the prairies”. A little later we get to Prince Albert National Park – we have never been that far north in North America. Next destination is the largest city in the province, Saskatoon. We are pleasantly surprised by the beautiful city on the South Saskatchewan River, which is also called “Paris of the Prairies”. The Wanuskewin Heritage Park, the Meewasin Trail along the river or a range of public artworks are just some of the destinations worth visiting.
Now the next provincial capital is waiting for us. Wascana Lake forms the heart of Regina; almost all the important buildings of the city are located on its banks. From now on we head west on the Trans-Canada Highway; Moose Jaw, Swift Current and Medicine Hat are the names of the few larger towns that interrupt the loneliness of the huge grain fields about every 200 km. Short detours take us to Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park and Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.
Once again we leave the TCH and drive deep into southern Alberta; here, next to the border of the United States, lies Waterton Lakes National Park. Via the World Heritage Site of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump we finally return to Calgary, where we spend the last two days of this tour.
|02||Calgary||Lake Louise||210 km|
|03||Lake Louise||040 km|
|04||Lake Louise||Jasper||240 km|
|08||Edmonton||Elk Island NP||120 km|
|09||Edmonton||North Battleford||410 km|
|10||North Battleford||Prince Albert||230 km|
|11||Prince Albert||Prince Albert NP||200 km|
|12||Prince Albert||Saskatoon||200 km|
|16||Regina||Swift Current||370 km|
|17||Swift Current||Medicine Hat||320 km|
|18||Medicine Hat||Waterton Park||310 km|
|19||Waterton Park||Calgary||290 km|