Travel Alberta Domestic

July 22, 2011 15:05 ET

Absolutely Alberta: More Than You Can Imagine

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - July 22, 2011) - The best part of Alberta is the great outdoors. Have you seen all these natural wonders?

"Was that a...?" you exclaim, as your partner chimes in, "Look at that! Magnificent!" Looking up, you caught a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron. There'll be lots more as you enjoy the day bird watching in Camrose.

You look one way, then the next. Nope. Nothing, but prairie and the mountains in the distance. You're at the Okotoks Erratic, the largest glacial erratic on earth. You can't help but marvel at how the massive sheets of ice, scraping their way across Alberta thousands of years ago, transported such a huge rock – a piece of the Rockies – and dropped it smack dab in the middle of the prairies.

As you swim through the doors that take you from the inside of the Banff Upper Hot Springs to the outside, you're struck by the surrounding mountains. Here in the hot spring waters that massage your body with gentle heat, you don't know what's more rejuvenating, the mineral waters, or the view. But you're in no hurry to arrive at an answer. In fact, you're not in a hurry for anything right now.

You're in a spectacular alpine valley, at the base of which is the Ink Pots of Johnston Canyon in Banff. Walking along the shore of one of the petite lakes, you notice a strange bubbling on the lakebed where you see through the shallow, crystal clear water. Leaning over to get closer, you can see the water that's coming from springs below through the mud like an underwater geyser gently erupting, causing perfectly concentric waves timed to the beat of nature.

As you walk through the giant 300 year old Engleman Spruce forest, the massive trees obscuring your view, you begin to wonder what's ahead. Stopping for a moment, a thunderous roar begins to overwhelm you. Picking up the pace in anticipation it gets louder, as if you're coming up on a prehistoric stampede of mammoths. Finally arriving at the opening, the mighty Kakwa Falls come into full view ahead and you notice that here, 160 km southwest of Grande Prairie, you lose your breath. It's somewhere 30 metres below at the bottom of the falls.

Sure, it took a few extra minutes in the car to get here. But standing here along the pristine shore of Jasper's Leach Lake, staring across at the view of Whirlpool Peak, Mt. Fyatt and the alpine forest all perfectly mirrored on the serene glacial water, those extra minutes seem a very small price to pay for what lies before you. Even da Vinci has nothing on Mother Nature here. (

Everywhere you go, joggers and nature walkers look in envy as you effortlessly glide past them with a slight lean to steer around them. The paths through the urban parkways of Edmonton's River Valley look different from the elevated stance atop your Segway. And from all the glances you're getting, you do too.

"Are we still in Alberta?" you can't help but ask yourself as you stride out onto a vast sand dune that swallows up the surrounding Boreal forest. Walking up the great dune in the Athabasca Dunes Ecological Reserve gives you the feeling that you have been instantly and magically transported to some far away land. All that's missing is a camel train of Bedouin nomads, so you wrap a scarf around your head. "Perfect," you tell yourself.

You walk along a terrain in the Wildlife Sanctuary at Pakowki Lake that's easy to imagine as other-worldly. Above to the right, the wind has whipped dust from the salt flats into a ghostly white flowing cloud, through which a single white pelican glides, searching for a place to rest. You couldn't get your camera out in time, but you're pretty sure that won't stop you from remembering this moment for years to come.

Hiking through the great north of Wood Buffalo National Park, you pick up the cries from above of the earth's last migratory flock of Whooping Cranes on their way back from Texas. They're big, graceful and they fly right over you, their shadows following them on the ground. You give an approving, satisfied nod to your partner. Over in the bush, a Wood Bison growls in agreement. Today, you and nature are good pals.

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Contact Information

  • Travel Alberta Visitor Information Centre
    P.O. Box 2500, Edmonton, AB, Canada T5J 2Z4
    Within North America: 1.800.ALBERTA (252.3782)
    Outside North America: 1.780.427.4321


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