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10 Days Out West: A Bucket List Trip to Alberta

It had always been a dream of mine to travel out west, so I jumped at the opportunity to visit Banff, Calgary and Drumheller.

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Trip to Alberta - Calgary StampedePhoto: Erica Hysert

My Dream Trip to Alberta

During the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to visit stunning Banff, Alberta, for the first time in my life. It had always been a dream of mine to travel out West, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to see the Rocky Mountains when I got the chance! I was invited to go along with my cousin Sarah, who I am very close to, and her family.

Up to this point, I had never travelled outside of the province of Ontario, so my uncle planned this trip to Alberta with me in mind, as I had always talked about wanting to see its blue, sparkling waters, huge mountains and vast landscapes. I also wanted to attend the Calgary Stampede.

Here are 10 things you didn’t know about the Calgary Stampede.

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My trip to AlbertaPhoto: Erica Hysert

Sightseeing in Alberta

We went for ten days in July 2016 and planned our vacation around the Stampede, which began on July 9. We stayed at a resort in Banff National Park and I got to wake up to a gorgeous mountain view every morning.

I love taking photos and knew this trip would be a photographer’s dream. One day, I’d love to sell my landscape photography professionally. I have a quick trigger finger and took tons of photos. Even though the pictures I captured were amazing, they still didn’t do justice to the spectacular beauty of Alberta.

We travelled through Drumheller, Alberta, on our way to the resort in Banff and on our first full day in Alberta, we visited the famous landmark of Lake Louise. My cousins and I walked the hiking trail that took us right around to the back side of the stunning lake.

The following day, we visited downtown Banff, which was only a two-minute drive for us from our resort. We drove around and captured some lovely landscape photos, including the Fairmont Springs Hotel nestled in the mountains—one of Canada’s greatest hotels.

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Trip to Alberta - Moraine LakePhoto: Erica Hysert

Visiting Moraine Lake

On our third day, we visited the second jewel of the Rockies, Moraine Lake. We spent the afternoon hiking around the lake and enjoying the sense of peace and beauty we felt in the great outdoors.

Later in the week, we took a gondola ride to experience the view of Lake Louise from a higher, more mountainous perspective. It was a sight I can’t quite put into words. I now understand why these lakes are called jewels of the Rockies—the crystal blue waters nestled in snow-capped mountains resemble a setting in a ring.

Here are more incredible things to do in Alberta.

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Trip to Alberta - Bow River ParkwayPhoto: Erica Hysert

Driving the Bow Valley Parkway

While driving along the Bow Valley Parkway, we stopped at most of the scenic outlooks to soak in the view.

To finish our trip, we drove to downtown Calgary for the Calgary Stampede Parade, and the following day took the train in to the Stampede Park and watched the afternoon program—the rodeo! It was such a blast.

There is still so much left to explore in this beautiful province. I hope to return some day. The beautiful scenery of western Canada will forever have a place in my heart.

Planning Your Own Trip to Alberta?

If you’re in the area, another must-see is a drive along the famous Icefields Parkway. Winding for 232 kilometres between Jasper and Lake Louise, the highway is named for the Columbia Icefields, and there are more than 100 ancient glaciers along the route. The glaciers of the Columbia Icefields, the spectacular colour of Peyto Lake, and the abundance of wildlife are just some of the breathtaking sights to see around every bend.

Check out more things to do in Banff on your next vacation.

Originally Published in Our Canada