Are you like me and spend your weekends wistfully wishing you were somewhere else? Do you stalk the Instagram feeds of outdoor adventurers like HikeBikeTravel and WanderWoman? Are you super keen to hike and explore, but recoil at the thought of having to navigate a hiking guide? There are so many great things to do in Alberta, but figuring out how and when to do them is the tricky part.
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The good news is we don’t have to be total voyeurs to indulge in a spot of wanderlust. We can get out there ourselves! Two of Canada’s top adventurers have released a fantastic book, that’s both an amazing read and an awesome gift. Here are a few of my favourite spots gleaned from 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta.
Table of Contents
Things to do in Alberta
If you wanna hit up the best parks and conservation areas in Alberta, this book is for you. It’s chock full of the best things to do in Alberta.
Sure, you know about Banff and maybe some other national parks in Alberta, but there are loads of (dare I say better?) uncrowded spots that are equally as awe-inspiring.
Don’t worry if you aren’t that adventurous. I’m not. This book also gives fresh insights into the popular places, so you can enjoy them even more than you have in the past.
Why most guidebooks suck
125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta is one of the few guidebooks I keep on my coffee table because I legit pick it up and flip through it often. I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you I read it cover to cover. I’m not a total keener:)
But I regularly get inspiration from this guide because of how it’s laid out. Most guidebooks blow because of how they’re organized. This one is way user-friendly.
Each hot spot entry includes a well written description as to why you’d want to visit. (Both the authors are award-winning travel writers and photographers, and reading their work is a true pleasure.)
But my favourite is the teaser, explaining why the destination is hot. In a concise, easy-to-read format, it gives at-a-glance deets on the location and its special features.
And the photography is unreal. Pick up a copy, and you’ll understand why the authors have each won several national photography awards.
Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area
What totally floored me was the city section. Duh, of course there are beautiful wilderness areas right in my own backyard. So why don’t I ever think about places like the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area? Why am I always fantasizing about getting to the mountains or the Canadian Badlands?
Anyway, after reading this section, I’m now super keen to get to the Ann and Sandy Cross. It’s only a 20-minute drive from south Calgary for crying out loud!
According to Nat Hot AB (I’m acronym-ing this guide), I can meander through hundreds and hundreds of aspen, spot red-tailed hawks and take part in a stargazing night here.
Here’s something I’m ashamed to admit. I’ve never stopped at Frank Lake. Driven past it, yes. Partied beside it – hundreds of times! It’s 15-minutes from my hometown of High River, but have I ever gotten out of the car here? Nooooo.
I seriously didn’t realize how significant of a wetland area it was. I’m no
nerd birder, but even I can appreciate their sweet calls and the brilliant flashes of colour as they whiz by. If you’re into wildlife, these are 8 of the world’s best wildlife and wilderness destinations.
Another spot that isn’t on my radar, but should be is Kinbrook Island Provincial Park. I know not all the lakes in Alberta are glacier fed, but it sure feels that way. Fortunately, the lake isn’t. It sports a sandy beach and is super close to Dinosaur Provincial Park. It’s the perfect spot for a family outing.
125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
For me, the best part of this book was at the end. There’s a special interest section that talks about Alberta’s best features and where to find them. There’s a section on caves – which are the best ones to explore and why. Same with dark skies, hot springs, waterfalls and nature festivals. If it’s just the highlights you want, flip to the back of the book to get insta inspiration.
But should you want to venture further south, to the U.S., here is a handy list of the U.S. National Parks in alphabetical order.