While many people researching a trip to Alberta focus on Banff National Park, there are plenty of other outdoor locations and adventures to explore. I highly recommend losing the crowds and finding yourself in Southwestern Alberta. Here’s what you need to know to plan your trip and 6 amazing things to do Waterton National Park and Crowsnest Pass.
3 Amazing Things to do in Crowsnest Pass
Made up of 5 mining communities, Crowsnest Pass offers plenty of outdoor adventures and the opportunity to learn about Alberta’s mining history. Crowsnest Pass served as a center for rum-running during the prohibition and is home to various historical events. Evidence of epic disasters like the Frank Slide where Turtle Mountain crumbled creating Canada’s deadliest rockslide still abound.
Explore Beauvais Lake Provincial Park
When exploring Crowsnest Pass and Waterton Lakes National Park, you will definitely want to spend a majority of your time outdoors. With kids, I highly recommend exploring Beauvais Lake Provincial Park. During Winter, Beauvais Lake is home to plenty of snowshoe, hiking and cross country ski trails. In Spring and Summer, kids will love visiting the wetland area where beavers can be seen cutting down trees and building dams.
For families looking for a longer adventure, I recommend checking out the Mount Albert Backcountry Trail. This hiking trail takes you to a high viewpoint to give you 360º degree views of the area. The trail does require some scrambling and has steep rocky sections so proper equipment and experience are required. You will also want to equip yourself with bear spray for this adventure.
Learn and Play with Uplift Adventures
There are plenty of tour options in Alberta for families wanting to explore with a guide. Few in my experience are as good as a day out with Uplift Adventures. What makes Uplift Adventures so unique is the lead guide Heather’s background in science. That coupled with her love of the area and knowledge of the mountains makes Uplift Adventures an invaluable resource in the area.
We embarked on the Miner’s Path Interpretive Tour with Heather and absolutely loved it. I was accompanied by my 11-year-old daughter Charlie whose sense of adventure and love of new information set the tone for a great day out. Before the tour, Uplift Adventures provides you with a meeting location and what you will need for the tour. Knowing very little about Crowsnest Pass, it was quite helpful to receive a full list of what to wear and bring on the tour.
The Miner’s Path in Coleman (one of the communities in Crowsnest Pass) is a well-loved trail. We arrived at the trail early in the morning after a light snowfall. Heather was able to teach us how to identify a variety of wildlife prints. We spent the next few hours exploring the area and learning about everything from the formation of the Canadian Rocky Mountains to interesting and educational tales of life in the mines.
What really struck me about the Uplift Adventure tour was that Heather took a paper map and a well-known easily accessible trail and truly elevated the experience. We could have simply followed the map ourselves but we would have missed so many small details. Instead, we were able to learn from Heather in a unique and truly fun way.
Uplift adventures offer interpretive tours, backpacking trips, and wilderness courses in Waterton Lakes National Park, Crowsnest Pass, and Castle Parks.
Hit the Trails with Sweet Riders
Located in Crowsnest Pass, Sweet Riders is a biking tour run by uber-experienced mountain biker Karey Watanabe. What makes Sweet Riders particularly unique is the tours offered for entire families. Karey has plenty of experience coaching kids and adults can choose to any level of experience.
We hit the path with Karey on her beginner fat biking tour. The tour takes you from the community of Blairmore to Coleman. The tour takes you along a community trail which is flat and good for beginners. Once in Coleman, the tour stops at Country Encounters Wine Bar for lunch. We dined on delicious fondue and learned all about the incredible fat biking opportunities in Crowsnest Pass.
Families heading to Crowsnest Pass can contact Sweet Riders and request private lessons focusing on particular trails or skill sets.
3 Awesome Things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park
Spend a Night Under the Stars with Dark Sky Guides
Families traveling to Waterton National Park will want to check out the Dark Sky Guides. Tours offered range from a Starry Skies Townsite Stroll to Dark Sky Adventure tours. Kids of all ages will love spending time with the Dark Sky Guides. The guides, four brothers born and raised in Waterton, tell amazing stories about the skies that will draw children in and have them excited to learn more about space. Once you experience the dark skies of Waterton and this tour, you will not stop looking up at the sky.
Visit Cameron Lake
Drive up the windy road of the Akamina Parkway to visit Cameron Lake. In Winter, this is a popular cross-country ski and snowshoe destination. In Summer, it’s an easy walk to the lake. Once there, families can explore along a short and easy trail that hugs the shore of the lake. Wildlife watchers will want to keep an eye out for moose and other animals that frequent the area.
Hike the Bear’s Hump Trail
A unique feature of the Bear’s Hump Trail is that it is located in the town of Waterton. Its location means that you can do a family hike and head straight to lunch at a local restaurant like Wieners of Waterton or for ice cream at Big Scoop Ice Cream Parlor. The hike itself is quite short with a distance of only 2.8 km round trip. You will still get a workout due to the steep incline. There are plenty of benches for kids to rest along the way. The view from the top is definitely worth it.
Where to Stay in Waterton Lakes National Park and Crowsnest Pass
Heritage Inn Hotel & Convention Center
Located in Pincher Creek between Crowsnest Pass and Waterton National Park, the Heritage Inn Hotel has everything families need for a great stay. Families can book a time slot to enjoy the pool and hot tub area to themselves and even connect their own music to the speaker system. The hotel has in-room dining and there are a variety of dining options close by.
Families wanting to stay in Waterton can check out the Bayshore Inn located in the town of Waterton. The hotel has newly renovated rooms and is steps from the shops and restaurants in Waterton. The rooms have lake views and small patios where you can sit and soak in the sun. Like most of Waterton, the Bayshore Inn operates seasonally and is only open during the summer months.
I was an invited guest to the activities and hotels featured in this post. Opinions are my own.