Visiting Alberta next week

Jun 12th, 2004, 05:35 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Visiting Alberta next week

I just found this forum and have a last minute request. My wife and I will be in Calgary for a conference June 15-20. I will have two half days free and Friday and Saturday before leaving early Sun. We have never been to Alberta before. What are the "must sees" with what little time we have. My wife will shop while I'm in conference. I would like to see the outdoors and sightsee. Thoughts? Thanks!
dkaufman is offline  
Jun 12th, 2004, 05:45 PM
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On Saturday and Sunday, you should definitely head out to the Rockies and see the sights at Banff and Lake Louise.

Other options:
A spectacular drive is out on the Transcanada Highway and then South down Highway 40 into Kananaskis and up over the Highwood Pass. It is a pleasant day trip, and it is absolutely spectacular. It is the highest paved highway in North America.

A trip out to Drumheller to see the Tyrell Museum of Palentology and the Badlands is a nice daytrip if mountains are not your schtick. But how could mounatins NOT be your schtick?

I'm sure other people will chip in with some "urban" attractions, I'm more an outdoor person so I'm a bit weak on this area, but one nice one is breakfast up the Calgary Tower -- it's a revolving restaurant at the top of a tall tower downtown. I've lived in Calgary 26 years and still go up there about once every 2 months. I never get tired of the view. Elevation is free if you get there early. (I think before 8:00)

twsnagel is offline  
Jun 12th, 2004, 05:50 PM
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Thanks for the ideas. We will be renting a car so Banff and Lake Louise are on the list now. Any particular activities to recommend/avoid?
dkaufman is offline  
Jun 12th, 2004, 08:24 PM
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If I read your message correctly, you have all of Friday and Saturday to sightsee. A critical question, is one of the half days on Thursday so that you could head for the mountains on Thursday afternoon?

If not, here are my suggestions:
Get an early start on Friday and visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.
Then drive over Kicking Horse Pass and descend to the turn north (right if going west) to Takkakaw falls.
Then return up the pass and turn north at the Icefields Parkway. Stay overnight at a motel/restaurant called The Crossing. You will need advanced reservations.

The Crossing is not the greatest place, but it will put you in good position to explore farther up the parkway before returning to Calgary. The time I stayed there the bed was fine but the room was a little small. The food in the restaurant was ok.

There is also the Num Ti Jah Lodge, but it is a little pricey. There is also a hotel called the Icefields Chalet at the Icefields Center, but it is a busy place. It is owned by a tour company, so I don't have a clue as to availability.

The next day drive up to the Icefields Center along the Icefields Parkway.
Then return to Calgary on Saturday night.

This will push it a little, but there is so much out there to see, and it is so spectacular that I think you will want to see all you can. Fortunately you will have long hours of daylight.

I think you can view the sights until at least 9 PM because sunset will not be until about 10 pm Alberta time. Sunset today in Calgary was 9:50 pm and the days will lengthen each day you are there.

Just hope it quits raining by the time you have the time off.
bob_brown is offline  
Jun 12th, 2004, 08:46 PM
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Some of the places like Takkakaw falls are not opened yet when i was there 4 days ago. It is suppose to open on the Jun 18. Likewise Lake Ohara. Lake Moraine was half filled.
s6656 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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Everyone, Thanks for the suggestions!

Bob, my half days off are Weds and Thurs with all day Friday and Saturday free. My room accommodations are covered for staying in Calgary. Any thoughts on day trips. I definitely like the Lake Louise ideas. Will there be sufficient activities around there this early? I'm thinking maybe horseback riding and canoeing. We live in the flat lands of the midwest (Indiana) and look forward to viewing the mountaineous area.

I also have an interest in cowboy/indian culture. Any ideas on better sights along those lines?
dkaufman is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 11:59 AM
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The Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump is a great place to see a good exhibit on the way the plains Indians hunted bufffalo. It is ways south of Calgary near Fort McCloud.

The highway to Fort McCloud is excellent once you get out of Calgary.
The distance is 100 miles to Ft. McLeod, but the turn is north of there on highway 785.

Calgary to Lake Louise is about 115 miles and the road to Moraine Lake leads south from the Lake Louise parking lot area, which is huge.
This early in the season I hope those lakes are not still white because of ice and snow.

The Glenbow Museum in Calgary has a good display on the Indians and on the Matis people. It is rated a "gem" by AAA. So is Heritage Park, also in Calgary. The Olympic Park is west of town and also recommended.

You will be there a little too early for the Stampede. So I don't where you look for cowboys. Most of what I see in southern Alberta are wheat farmers.

However, if you are going to restrict yourself to returning to Calgary each night, a lot of time will be lost on the highway. But I would be willing to drive 2 hours to see the Canadian Rockies. If you don't mind a 12 - 14 hour day you should be able to see a lot with the long hours of sunshine.
bob_brown is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 01:10 PM
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The area around Calgary and in particular south and immediately west of Calgary is definitely ranching country.

The "Cowboy Trail" is highway 22 south through Turner Valley and Longview. For more info, browse through this website:

By the way, beef is Alberta's number one agricultural commodity, followed in second place by wheat. There are nearly twice as many cattle in Alberta as there are people!!!
Less than half of Alberta's farmlands are used to grow wheat (other important crops include barley and canola), and most of the grain growing country is in the central part of the province north and east of Calgary.
I would estimate that less than half of the Alberta's total area is suitable for grain growing (because of arid lands in the very south and south-east, mountains and foothills in the southwest, boreal forest in the north).
Borealis is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 02:57 PM
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Hello Dkaufman,

If you go to the Cowboy Trail website that Borealis mentioned, you'll see that one of the "Icon Attractions" is the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. I think it would be a good place to go for exposure to the cowboy scene, and I think it would be feasible to do it on one of your half days. Here's a Parks Canada website that provides some more detail on it.

The mountains deserve to occupy one of the full days that you have off. You can go horse back riding and rent a canoe at Lake Louise.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, which Bob mentioned, is excellent, but I think it would be too much of a stretch to visit it on one of your half days off. If you're interested in Indian culture, I think it would be worth devoting a full day to it.

On your other half day off, you might want to walk through downtown Calgary. I described a half day walking tour of Calgary in this thread:

A good way of ending the walking tour would be to have dinner in the vicinity of Eau Claire Market. An upscale restaurant is River Cafe in the park on Prince's Island, accessible by a pedestrian bridge from the Eau Claire Market area. A moderately priced restaurant is Joey Tomato's, which serves Mediterranean cuisine, at Eau Claire Market.

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 03:58 PM
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Judy, Thanks for the thoughts. This forum has given me some great ideas on how to really enjoy this trip. Any eating places in Calgary we must try?
dkaufman is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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>>>>>>Any eating places in Calgary we must try?<<<<<<

Well, I've already mentioned expensive River Cafe and moderately priced Joey Tomato's in the vicinity of the Bow River.

On the Stephen Avenue Walk / 8th Avenue strip downtown, there is expensive Teatro (Northern Italian cuisine) and moderately priced Rose Garden Thai Restaurant. Also on Stephen Avenue Walk is Murietta's Westcoast Grill. The food is excellent, but my husband and I can't cope with the huge portions there. Either we share a main course or we order a salad and a starter as our main course.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 05:36 PM
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Are these places casual attire? I'm planning on wearing jeans most of the trip. We do like dining at better places and prefer not to "burger" our time away. Oh, yeah, we're also on the Atkins diet. I cheat a little, the little woman doesn't.
dkaufman is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 05:51 PM
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If you're wanting to ride horses, Timberline Tours in Lake Louise offers a 3-hour ride ascending 1000 feet to Lake Agnes for $65 CDN. There is a waterfall and log style teahouse there where you'll have a half-hour to enjoy purchased sandwiches or baked goods. They have other tours as well. Their website address is
laurafromtexas is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 06:44 PM
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Jeans are acceptable at all of the Calgary restaurants I mentioned.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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Great! I really appreciate all the suggestions. I'll post my experiences when I get back.
dkaufman is offline  

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