Avoid the crowds driving through southern Alberta and B.C.

Author: Canadian Living


Avoid the crowds driving through southern Alberta and B.C.

Trying to enjoy the majestic Rockies while avoiding the clamour and chatter of the masses is often the toughest scramble. By driving along the south side of hot spots like Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, you can still find serenity, uncluttered culture and adventure – without having to wait in line.

First stop: Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump, AB
Spend your first night in Calgary shedding urban urges, then head south on Deerfoot Trail toward Fort McLeod. Soon you'll encounter an essential stop for some air and education. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO-recognized, 5,500-year-old bison-stampeding precipice used by Blackfoot peoples, which is now home to an interpretative centre, First Nations cultural events and a snack bar whose menu includes tasty dishes of bison, naturally.

Wildlife haven in Waterton, AB
Keep heading south past the wind fields near Pincher Creek, along the eastern edge of the Rockies, until you arrive in Waterton Lakes National Park. Stop at the park office for advice on navigating the 200 kilometres of hiking trails that stitch together streams, waterfalls, lakes, forests and jaw-dropping mountain vistas. Spend a second, full day enjoying this mellow, wildlife-rampant park's charms. The quaint village of Waterton offers many sleeping options.

Next, traverse Crowsnest Pass into British Columbia, through towering ochre palisades, and encounter bountiful plunging valleys as you climb deeper into the Rockies. Take your time, both for safety and enjoyment.

Bavarian pleasures in Kimberley, B.C.
Upon reaching Kimberley, B.C., you may think you've crossed the Atlantic rather than a provincial border. Kimberley is an authentic Bavarian village. If you happen to be here in July, don't miss the International Accordion Championships. To refuel, check out Old Bauernhaus, a 350-year-old converted farmhouse that survived the Black Plague, a stint as a cider brewery and the trip overseas in 1989 to bring a hearty dose of traditional Bavarian cuisine to Kimberley.

Page 1 of 2 – Find out where to relax in a natural hot spring in Alberta on page 2.
Radium Hot Springs, Kootenays, AB
Heading back to Alberta, stop and give your muscles a mineral massage at Radium Hot Springs on the eastern edge of the stunning Kootenays. Continue carving your way towards Canmore. Nestled between the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country, Canmore is an alpine gem with cozy amenities to rival better-known mountain towns nearby.

There's also a wealth of accessible "soft" adventure activities, such as a 10-kilometre ascent up 550-metre Pigeon Mountain or brisk hiking to the ancient pictographs at Grassi Lakes. The town's main drag offers plenty of places to fill your belly with first-class grub – Crazy Weed Kitchen or the Grizzly Paw, notably – perfect for toasting your renewed infatuation with the Rockies.

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Avoid the crowds driving through southern Alberta and B.C.