12 Best Sights in Southern Alberta, Alberta

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Fodor's choice

Dinosaur Provincial Park encompasses 73 square km (28 square mi) of Canada's greatest badlands, as well as prairie and riverside habitats. A United Nations World Heritage Site, the park contains some of the world's richest fossil beds—dating as far back as 75 million years—including many kinds of dinosaurs. Much of the area is a nature preserve with restricted public access. Self-guided trails weave through different habitats, and a public loop road leads to two outdoor fossil displays. The Royal Tyrrell Museum Field Station has ongoing fossil excavations. Interpretive programs run daily from mid-May to early September and weekends until mid-October, but many require tickets; call for reservations. You should allow at least two full days for an in-depth experience. The campground has a food-service center.

Echodale Regional Park

Echodale Regional Park provides a riverside setting for swimming, boating, and fishing; it also has a 1900s farm and a historic coal mine.

1001 Echo Dale Dr. SW, Medicine Hat, Alberta, T0K 0G0, Canada
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Rate Includes: Daily 7-11

Fort Museum

An authentic reconstruction of the 1874 fort, the Fort Museum grants almost equal exhibitory weight to settlers, regional people, the old North West Mounted Police, and today's Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

219 Jerry Potts Blvd., Fort Macleod, Alberta, T0L 0Z0, Canada
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Rate Includes: C$10

Recommended Fodor's Video

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

A multilevel interpretive center built into the side of a cliff provides information about the lifestyle, legends, and story of the Blackfoot people at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Exhibits describe the history of the buffalo jump, and a film re-creates the event when native peoples herded buffalo over the cliff to their thunderous death. Trails surround the jump, and tours are given by Blackfoot guides. If you visit on Wednesday in summer you can enjoy native dancing, drumming, and singing. During the summer months you can spend the night in a fully equipped Blackfoot tepee. The site is about 18 km (11 mi) west of Fort Macleod.

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Henderson Lake Park

Henderson Lake Park, 3 km (2 miles) east of downtown Lethbridge, is filled with lush trees, a golf course, a baseball stadium, a swimming pool, an artificial lake, a year-round ice-skating rink, and tennis courts.

Medicine Hat City Hall

Prosperity is embodied in the striking, glass-sided Medicine Hat City Hall, which won the Canadian Architectural Award in 1986. Guided group and self-guided tours are available.

Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District Museum

There were many industries that thrived in Medicine Hat prior to World War I, but the manufacture of clay products became a booming industry that still remains today. The historic factories, equipment, and artifacts of this business have been declared one of Canada's national historic treasures, and a tour of the museum will allow you to view historic pottery, stoneware, ceramics, brick, and the equipment that was used to produce it as early as 1885. Guided tours are available.

713 Medalta Ave. SE, Medicine Hat, Alberta, T1A 3K9, Canada
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Rate Includes: C$8

Medicine Hat Visitor Centre

The Tourist Information Centre has detailed trail maps of the preserve.

Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens offer a tranquil setting with manicured trees and shrubs, miniature pools and waterfalls, a teahouse, and pebble designs originally constructed in Japan and reassembled alongside Henderson Lake. Admission to the gardens is C$7.

Mayor Magrath Dr. S, Lethbridge, Alberta, T1J 3Z6, Canada
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Rate Includes: C$9, Daily 8-5:30

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology

The road to Drumheller and the Royal Tyrell Museum is well marked and takes you through the vast flat Canadian prairie. Once a coal-mining area, Drumheller's major industry today is dinosaurs. The museum is in Midland Provincial Park and holds one of the world's largest collections of complete dinosaur skeletons with more than 40 full-size animals. The barren lunar terrain of stark badlands and eerie hoodoos that surround the area seem an ideal setting for the dinosaurs that stalked the countryside 75 million years ago; but in fact, when the dinosaurs were here, the area had a semitropical climate and marshlands not unlike those of the Florida Everglades. You can participate in hands-on museum exhibits and meet the first dinosaur discovered here: Albertosaurus, a smaller version of Tyrannosaurus Rex, or travel the 48-km (30-mi) Dinosaur Trail through the Red Deer Valley and surrounding badlands.

1500 N Dinosaur Tr., Drumheller, Alberta, T0J 0Y0, Canada
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Rate Includes: C$18, Closed Mon.

Saamis Tepee

Across the road from the preserve is Saamis Tepee, the world's largest tepee built for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics in recognition of Alberta's First Nations people.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

Among rock cliffs and hoodoos alongside the Milk River, this park contains the largest concentration of native petroglyphs on the North American plains. Today a campground and restored Mountie outpost are here. You can explore the coulées (gullies) that provided cover for outlaws and illegal whiskey traders. Guided walks explore some of this history. The park is about 100 km (62 mi) southeast of Lethbridge.

NW 36 TW1 range 13, Lethbridge, Alberta, T0K 1M0, Canada