Alberta is one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada! Why? Because of the Canadian Rockies, of course! Alberta is home to Banff, Jasper and Waterton, three of the most popular national parks in the world’s second largest country! But it ain’t just about the national parks. Between the parks you’ll find countless nooks and crannies with sweeping, gorgeous views that are way more remote and way less trafficked than the big name destinations! And discovering these lesser known gems in the counties and provincial parks of Alberta was the best thing we could’ve done when the national parks were still closed due to COVID-19 and social distancing was heavily stressed. Well, if we have another pandemic – please, Lord, have mercy on us! – you now know where to go for some quiet time in nature!
3h 30 min from Calgary, in Clearwater County, AB
Crescent Falls was the first place we went to the day after it was announced that provincial parks were now open. It’s a decent drive northwest of Calgary but immensely rewarding. Having a paved path down to the waterfall lookout makes this one of the best places for kids and elders to visit! The viewpoint area is extremely safe with a built-in barrier and some benches running along the north cliff. But in order to get down to the bottom of the upper falls, you need to walk east along the barrier and hike down a short but fairly steep trail. Definitely avoid going down here if you’re with kids or if the conditions aren’t ideal! But if you’re able to find yourself on the lower platform, enjoy the view and freshness of the glacial water.
One thing I love about being outside of the national parks is that we’re permitted to fly our little drone. The first photo was taken with our DJI Mavic Mini!
2h 10 min from Calgary, in Lundbreck near Pincher Creek, AB
Lundbreck Falls is probably the only attraction in the tiny town of Lundbreck near Pincher Creek. If you’re ever heading towards Fernie, Waterton or down across the border to Montana, take a short drive into here to catch this beautiful waterfall! It’s also very safe for kids as it has a constructed lookout just steps away from the parking lot and a barrier. We just like to go around it to get to the top of the falls! You can also reach the bottom by taking the stairs down and walking along the edge towards the big rocks. It can be slippery though so watch your step!
The bridge you drive across to get to Lundbreck Falls is also very picturesque in itself. But the other successful photo spot here was the train tracks on the other side of the falls. You can easily hop back into your car and drive a minute around to the other side. Gotta love those Instagram train track shots!
Sheep River Falls
1h 30 min from Calgary, in Turner Valley, Kananaskis, AB
Getting to Sheep River Falls was just as marvellous as the destination itself. The road here is actually closed all winter and just opened mid-May, so we were able to check it out at the start of the season. It was a gorgeous, scenic drive but one thing that made us hold the steering wheel a little too tight was the sheer number of wildlife crossing the road. Because this road is less traveled, we encountered many animals (foxes, birds, prairie dogs, mountain goats, you name it) that weren’t used to cars and would take their sweet time getting off the road. So be careful here if you don’t want to be the reason that there’s roadkill! Nevertheless, the winding single lane road made for a lot of ooh’s and aah’s as we got closer to the falls.
Sheep River Falls is definitely one of the shortest falls we visited but the view of Mount Hoffman in the background makes it well worth the visit!
What hidden gems in Alberta have you visited and would add to this list? Comment down below, I’d love to discover new places!