While incredible sites like Banff National Park bring tons of tourists to Alberta every year for good reason, what about the cool off-the-beaten-track destinations around the province that not as many tourists have heard of? For locals looking for new parts of their province to explore as well as visitors with less conventional taste, here are some of our favorite hidden gems around Alberta:
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
In the southern Alberta grasslands, you’ll find this unique provincial park which contains one of the largest collection of First Nation petroglyphs and pictograms in North America. In addition to a fascinating glimpse of First Nation history, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park offers camping, dramatic hoodoo rock formations, and guided tours and exhibits.
The Plus 15
Calgary’s Plus 15 is the world’s largest pedestrian skywalk system, at 18 kilometres long. Built in 1970, the Plus 15 skywalk connects many businesses and buildings, and even contains its own shopping centres.
World’s First UFO Landing Pad
For a quirky and off the wall attraction, look no further than the town of St. Paul, which is home to the world’s first UFO landing pad. Built in 1967 by locals who wanted to create a landmark, celebrate the town’s centennial, and welcome aliens all at the same time, the UFO landing pad is a massive flat concrete structure. Visitors can learn more at the adjacent welcome center, which happens to be shaped like a flying saucer.
Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park makes a great road trip destination for families and nature lovers. The park serves as a refuge to bison and elk, and is an excellent spot for viewing these magnificent creatures. There are scenic picnic and overnight camping spots on-site.
Torrington Gopher Hole Museum
If you want to visit a truly unique and wacky attraction that most of your friends have probably never heard of, you have to check out the Torrington Gopher Hole Museum. This museum, featuring stuffed gophers wearing costumes and acting out scenes, has to be seen (and Instagrammed!) to be believed.
World’s Largest Dinosaur
Actual dinosaurs may have gone extinct millennia ago but this statue in Drumheller, Alberta is larger than life. Over 26.3 meters (86 ft) tall and weighing over 165,000 pounds this T-Rex truly is a site to behold. Come to the paleontology museum and check out the other life-size fossils around town.
As you can see, from quirky roadside attractions to lesser known but quite stunning national parks, Alberta has no shortage of hidden gems. Be sure to let us know of any other favorites we missed!