The Mild West
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  Posted May 28th, 2016 by Zdenko  in Travel | No comments yet.

Travel Alberta

Source: Dave and Deb at PlanetD portal

Alberta Cowboy Trail
The empty grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Foothills attracted migrants from the rowdy American West, for a time calling into question British colonial hold over what is now Alberta. The westward thrusts of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the North West Mounted Police tamed the settlers and staved off annexation by the expanding republic, but not before the cultural of the American cattleman was already firmly rooted.

alberta-road-trip-101Alberta Cowboy Trail

Throughout the Foothills, high-heeled, pointy toed boots and engraved silver belt buckles are everyday business attire for ranchmen and wranglers. Their signature headwear explains the ubiquitous employment of the full-scale pickup truck as a personal conveyance: Low-profile sedans simply do not accommodate high-crowned Stetsons.

The grandeur of Foothills ranch country unfurls along The Cowboy Trail, a route extending in Alberta SouthWest from the Town of Cardston to Chain Lakes Provincial Park. From there, it continues northward, past the Bar-U Ranch National Historic Site and on to Longview, Black Diamond and eventually Mayerthorpe in the north of the province.

Stewards of the Range
The successors of the ranching settlers are determined stewards of their landscapes and traditions. The rural municipal districts fiercely conserve private and public rangelands from residential and commercial sprawl, though mineral and energy seekers are persistent and less subject to local governance.

hwy_22-cattle_driveCattle drive on south Cowboy Trail

Cowboy Trail, Alberta – Road Trip Itinerary
After you’ve explored the city of Calgary, it’s time to hit the road for your Alberta Road Trip and it starts on the cowboy trail. Driving West on Highway 1A from Calgary takes you on a journey through Alberta’s past. Towns like Cochrane and Turner have old fashioned shops and main streets throwing back to the days when oil was first discovered. Black Diamond is a great lunch stop at Marvis Classic Soda Shop where poutine and coke floats are on the menu and you can grab some retro candy for the road.

alberta-road-trip-1Bar at ‘U Ranch’

Our first stop on the Cowboy Trail was a National Historical Site, the Bar U Ranch. It was Canada’s largest ranch in its heyday and it’s now open to tourists to commemorate Canada’s ranching heritage. You can sip some cowboy coffee around the campfire and listen to a storyteller speak of life on the range in the 1800’s. You can try your hand at roping a cow, (Don’t worry, this calf doesn’t move), take a wagon ride and tour the houses and barns left as they were from a century ago.

Banff-Alberta-Winter-33-XLHorse Cart Takes Tourists to the Bar U Ranch

Read about Deb’s connection with the Bar U Ranch it’s a good one!

Once you are finished up at the Bar U, stop for a cappuccino and fresh apple pie in Longview on your way back to Black Diamond. There’s free wifi here where you can check your email and brag to your friends on facebook about your awesome Alberta Road Trip. Before you hit the road, grab some beef jerky at the shop next door. It’s a great snack for a long drive.

Banff-Alberta-Winter-30-XLTrail Ride – Black Diamond: Anchor D Ranch Owner Dewy Looks out at the Rockies

A trip to Alberta’s Cowboy country wouldn’t be complete without a proper trail ride. Unlike your usual follow the leader like trail rides, a trek into the mountains with Dewy and the gang at the Anchor D Ranch will make you feel like a real cowboy. His 105 horses are sure footed and give you the confidence to cling to the side of the mountain as you take in the incredible Alberta scenery.

Banff-Alberta-Winter-32-XLBeautiful horses at the Anchor D Ranch in Black Diamond

Spend a few days at the ranch and enjoy eating meals with the ranch hands, heading out for the day or even multi day rides high into the mountains. His homestead is warm and cozy and if you are lucky, you may even be treated to a song or two on the accordion. If that’s not a cowboy experience, I don’t know what is!

Banff-Alberta-Winter-28-XLTaking it all in. The Rocky Mountains.

Prince-of-Wales-hotel Waterton-Lakes-National-Park-Alberta-1-XLThe Prince of Wales Hotel overlooks Waterton Lake

Think you can’t get big mountain views in the South? Think again. Waterton Lakes National Park has an incredible mountainous landscape. Connected to Glacier National park in Montana, this is an excellent vacation destination. Waterton Lakes is where the prairies meet the Rocky Mountains creating dramatic landscapes. You can stay overnight in the park at one of the many inns, you can rough and go camping or you can celebrate in grand style at a hotel like the Prince of Wales. Located high on a cliff overlooking Waterton Lake, it is one of the most photographed hotels in the world.

Banff-Alberta-Winter-27-XLRed Rock Canyon in Waterton National Park

There’s something for everyone at Waterton Lakes, Great hikes, horseback riding, canoeing, Red Rock Canyon, and even scooter rentals! But be careful, we saw a crash while we were there. See our post The Wonders of Waterton Lakes National Park.

Banff-Alberta-Winter-17-XLSun sets over the fields of Pincher Creek

We didn’t overnight in Waterton Lakes and instead drove back to Pincher Creek less than an hour away to stay at the Ramada Inn. It has free Breakfast, and a waterslide! Plus our room was to die for with a Jacuzzi tub, sitting are and fireplace. Pincher Creek is a great destination in it’s own right and we spent the day exploring all the amazing sights surrounding the town like Lundbreck Falls and Frank Slide’s Interpretive Centre, home to Canada’s Deadliest Rock Slide on Crowsnest Pass.

Banff-Alberta-Winter-24-XLWhere the Prairies meet the Mountains.

One can spend a couple of days driving around the Pincher Creek area. The landscape is beautiful and some of Alberta’s largest ranches are in the area. See cattle graze in the fields, among the giant bales of hay, witness the endless stream of windmills sitting on the plains with the great Rocky Mountain backdrop and enjoy a quick stop at the Burnis Tree. Don’t know what that is? Check it out  at The Many Sights of Pincher Creek.

About the outhors
We started The Planet D with the hope of inspiring people to step out of their comfort zone and realize their potential. That is what travel has done for us. We live by the motto “Adventure is for Everyone” because we believe that you don’t have to be an uber-athlete, adrenaline junkie or a part of the ultra rich to be an adventurer! All you need is the desire to achieve something more.

ThePlanetD wins SATW (Society of American Travel Writer’s) Travel Blog of the Year. National Geographic comes in second place. 

Hope you have a safe travel!

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