A road trip is always an adventure. A bit of uncertainty about what to expect. And a road trip through Canada – especially the province of Alberta that is blessed by nature – is so much more. Fasten your seat belt, let’s drive through Alberta for two weeks and visit the most beautiful places and my personal highlights.
I spent an entire summer in Alberta with a good friend. We drove around the province on the weekends and discovered dinosaurs, abandoned coal mines, open-air museums and above all the national parks. Our numerous excursions can be optimally combined to a two-week road trip through the Canadian province.
Road Trip Alberta: Our Itinerary for Two Weeks full of Adventures and National Parks
Canada’s vastness is unbelievable and hard to imagine. And by no means to be underestimated. If you follow my suggested route through Alberta, then count on 1800 km and 20 hours driving time. Make sure you have at least two weeks for the proposed itinerary through the province. Count on a week to visit the most beautiful places in the Canadian Rockies like the national parks Jasper and Banff. If you have more time, even better!
Arrival in Edmonton
I suggest you choose Edmonton as your starting point for your road trip to Alberta. Alternatively, Calgary is a good starting point. Both cities have international airports that you can fly into.
Ukrainian Village and Cultural Heritage near Edmonton
Just outside Edmonton is the Ukrainian Village, a pioneer settlement from between 1899 and 1930. The interactive open-air museum is well worth a visit and is ideal for a half-day excursion from Edmonton.
→ Information Ukrainian Village | Admission 15 CAD
Let’s go to the dinosaurs in Drumheller
Edmonton to Drumheller: 3 hours | 280 km
Drumheller is also known as the world capital of dinosaurs. The whole city is dedicated to the prehistoric animals – a true paradise for dinosaur lovers like me. Not only is the world’s largest dinosaur statue with a proud 25 metres in height located here, but there are also smaller statues of various dinosaurs scattered throughout the city. The absolute highlight is the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which is located a little outside the city. The entrance to the world of the extinct reptiles costs 19 CAD and is worth every cent. Plan several hours for the visit. In summer, the museum is even open until 9 pm.
→ Royal Tyrrell Museum | Admission 19 CAD
Atlas Coal Mine and a Journey into the Past
Drumheller to Atlas Coal Mine: 20 Minutes | 23.3 km
Creating amazing museum and history experiences seems to be something Canadians really like – and are very good at it too. To visit an abandoned coal mine doesn’t sound really exciting at first. However, Atlas Coal Mine takes visitors back in time to the past between 1911 and 1979. Costumed actors share stories about their everyday work – some not suited for a younger audience. Be sure to take part in the Unmentionables Tour, you will be amazed and laugh!
After a few hours in the coal mine, it’s worth taking a break at the Last Chance Saloon, 20 minutes away.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Atlas Coal Mine to Waterton Lakes Nationalpark: 4 hours | 390 km
Waterton Lakes National Park is ideal for your first national park experience in Canada. The park is not too big and can be visited in a few hours (although I advise you to spend more time there). Among the highlights are the Red Rock Canyon and the small village at Upper Waterton Lake which I especially enjoyed.
Spray Valley Provincial Park and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and the Search for Bears
Waterton Lakes national park to Spray Valley Provincial Park: 3.75 hours | 310 km
I wouldn’t have had those two provincial parks on my radar hadn’t they been recommended by locals. Even in the high season in the summer months, it is quite quiet here and only a few tourists are here – even though the provincial parks are very close to Banff. It was here where I saw both black bears and grizzly bears (from a safe distance in my rental car).
Banff National Park
Waterton Lakes pational park to Banff: 1.25 hours | 60 km
In order to get a good impression of Banff National Park, I’d recommend spending at least three days here. Don’t miss Canmore or the city of Banff itself. Your hiking boots will love to feel the terrain as you hike to Plain of Six Glaciers with the starting point Lake Louise or through Johnston Canyon up to the Ink Pots.
Banff to Athabasca Glacier: 2.5 hours | 187 km
Icefields Parkway connects the two national parks Banff and Jasper and is one of the most scenic roads in Canada. You’ll have a hard time reaching your destination because of the many pretty lookout points and the amazing landscape in the valley.
One of the highlights along Icefields Parkway is the Athabasca Glacier, which can be visited with groups at certain times in special glacier vehicles. Those who also want to experience the Skywalk can do so with a combined ticket. Both activities must be booked in advance, as the tickets are often sold out weeks in advance, especially in high season.
Jasper National Park
Athabasca Glacier to Jasper: 1.5 hours | 106 km
After the glacier, we continue north again. Jasper National Park is in no way inferior to Banff. The city of Jasper is even prettier than Banff and also has a more cosy character. For the adventurous, join a rafting tour or simply a hike along Maligne Canyon. In the late evening hours head to Maligne Lake and Medicine Lake – chances are high that you’ll spot wild bears.
Jasper to Edmonton 3.75 hours | 366 km
Tips for a Successful Road Trip through Alberta
A road trip should be planned well while leaving room for spontaneity and the possibility to decide things at short notice is the quintessence of every adventure.
Road Trip in Alberta during High Season
During the summer months, the national parks in Canada are very popular and are usually crowded. This means full parking lots and hiking trails where you hike up and down in a single file. Hotels and hostels are full as well, and very pricey. In Jasper, we got the last two beds in a hostel without running water. The night before we spent at a gas station in accommodations for truck drivers. In Banff, I paid the equivalent of €150 for three nights in a simple dormitory of 8 people – it was the last bed available there and everything else was at least double the price.
To avoid this, I recommend to not make a road trip during the peak travel season and to travel in the low season. Your bank account will thank you for it.
Rental car for your road trip in Alberta
Canada is the perfect country for an extensive road trip. A rental car is therefore indispensable and can be quite cheap if booked in time.
Visa for Canada
A few years ago, Canada implemented the concept of travel authorization (as we know it for entering the USA). Anyone arriving by plane must apply in advance for an electronic travel authorization (eTA). As of July 2019, this costs 7 CAD – approx. €5.
→ read more about eTA on the official website of the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Are you ready for a casual adventure through the province of Alberta? Have you ever been to Canada by car? Where did you like it most? Let me know in the comments.
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