4 fabulous reasons to visit Alberta, Canada
If it’s jaw-dropping scenery and a seemingly endless horizon of natural wonders you’re looking for, then you’ll be hard pushed to find a more dramatic destination than Alberta. Canada’s fourth largest province boasts an envious landscape, world-class winter sports and beautifully appointed resorts. Our Rocky Mountaineer train tour takes in the rugged splendor of Alberta without compromising on luxury or comfort. Below are five reasons why Alberta should immediately jump to the top of your travel-to-do list.
The turquoise waters of Lake Louise in Banff National Park are framed by the near vertical slopes of Mt Victoria and the spectacular Victoria hanging glacier. As views go, there are maybe a handful of places on the planet that offer such a remarkable vista, it’s quite simply spectacular. No trip to Alberta would be complete without a visit to this wonderful lake. Being glacial, swimming in Lake Louise is only for the hardy as the water temperature rarely gets above 8°C. However, you’ll find a warm welcome at the magnificent Fairmont Chateaux on the shores of the lake or in any of the homely restaurants in the hamlet of Lake Louise itself. Outside of the summer months Lake Louise freezes over and kayakers are replaced by ice-skaters and Nordic skiers, but whatever the month the views are incredible and the welcome warm.
The pristine wilderness surrounding Banff has been attracting visitors keen to ski, explore and simply soak in the awe-inspiring views for generations. Although hugely popular, Banff is also hugely big, the Banff National Park extends to over 4000 square miles so crowds are never a problem. The list of activities here is endless, canoeing, cycling, skiing, dog sledding, climbing and hiking to name but a few there is also the incredibly wildlife to look out for. Banff is home to elk, wolves, bears, big horn sheep, coyotes, moose, deer and mountain lions. There is more to Banff than just the great outdoors, art and culture have a huge part to play in this sophisticated mountain town. You can start off with a visit to the wonderful Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and delve into the incredible and ancient history of the region.
Lake Maligne & Spirit Island
Possibly one of the most recognisable and most photographed sights in the Canadian Rockies, Lake Maligne is also the second largest glacier fed lake in the world. Spirit Island sits at a remote corner of Lake Maligne, once a sacred site of the First Nation Stoney Nakoda people who believed that the surrounding mountains were the physical embodiment of their ancestors. Photographers amongst you might want to take note that 4:30PM is the golden hour when the late afternoon light drops into the canyon and hits the island creating the perfect lighting conditions.
Lake Moraine is nine miles southeast of Lake Louise and like Louise is glacier-fed and shares the same vivid turquoise colour because of tiny rock particles ground into the water by the glacier. Moraine sits at a height of 6,183 feet and so is frozen until early June each year. You are always in danger of running out of superlatives when touring Alberta and Moraine is the reason why, it’s almost impossibly beautiful. The crystal-clear air makes the mountains look pin-sharp against the sky, it’s more dreamscape than landscape.
Several trails loop around the lake, all graded for difficulty from the easy ramble to the strenuous hike. The Rockpile Trail will lead you to of a natural dam and from there you’ll be treated to the ‘Twenty-Dollar View’, so-called as the vista appeared on the back of Canadian twenty-dollar bills issued between 1969 and 1979. The walk is worth every penny.
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