Alberta. The name alone is tantamount to soaring mountain vistas, sparkling alpine lakes and dense forestry. Why? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that Alberta is home to some of the world’s most famous (and most beautiful) National Parks. You see, this is the birthplace of the Canadian National Park, and with so much incredible scenery to preserve, it’s no surprise that Alberta’s parks cover around 64,831 square kilometres. That’s an area twice the size of Belgium, and then some. Starting with Banff, Alberta’s most popular offering, here’s a list of our favourite National Parks in the province.
Banff National Park
Officially established in 1885, Banff is one of the oldest national parks in the world (the third oldest, if you want to be really specific). Lying on the eastern side of the Canadian Rockies, this is the home of the iconic Lake Louise and some of Canada’s most exciting wildlife. And believe us, it’s just as awe-inspiring as it looks in the pictures. The air is fresh and the views spectacular. There’s also the presence of Banff Town, a charming and deservedly popular settlement that attracts thousands of skiers come winter and just as many road trippers throughout the summer. It’s little wonder that this is the most visited National Park in Canada. Combine Banff’s famous lakes, mountains, wildlife and picture perfect town and you’ve got a recipe for the trip of a lifetime.
Wood Buffalo National Park
Welcome to the largest national park in the whole of Canada and the second largest in the world. If you’re looking for somewhere to get lost, there’s no better place. The sheer size of the park means you’re more likely to cross paths with a multitude of wildlife than you are to bump into a fellow explorer. Sound good to you? We thought so. And it gets better. Wood Buffalo National Park is home to a huge variety of wildlife species. Think moose, wolves, wood bison, lynx, beaver…it’s an endless array that reads like a list of Canada’s most iconic creatures. A park that will ensure you witness that side to Canada you’ve always dreamed of.
Jasper National Park
Just north of Banff lies Jasper National Park, an area spanning 10,878 square kilometres that’s home to everything from glaciers, to hot springs, to mountains, to waterfalls. Like all of the others on this list, Jasper’s beauty will leave you completely bowled over whilst also making you feel incredibly small. The landscapes here are just so epic; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by what you’re seeing. Keep an eye out for elk, grizzly bears and moose, to name just a few of the area’s wild inhabitants and be sure to check out Mount Edith Cavell and make the most of the hiking and rafting opportunities the lay of the land here provides. Yet another jewel in Alberta’s dazzling crown.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Three hours south of Calgary and spreading down to the US border is the smallest of Alberta’s Rocky Mountain parks; Waterton National Park. Free from crowds yet no less spectacular than Alberta’s other offerings, Waterton stands as a unique clash of mountains and prairies. Here you can take to the waters of the Rockies’ deepest lake and cruise across the border into Montana. Or how about a spot of hiking, fishing or, if you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, intense climbing? Take on Akamina Ridge, Crypt Lake and the Alderson-Carthew Summit and you’ll have completed the Triple Crown Challenge and thus made a name for yourself in the hiking world. A true natural beauty that will whet the appetite of all of those ‘outdoorsy’ types amongst you.