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Calgarians, Great Outdoors, Life

These are 12 of Alberta's most beautiful outdoor locations

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DH Calgary Staff Jul 31, 2018 11:53 am 1,741

BC may be beautiful, but Alberta is even better.

We have mountains, lakes, hiking trails, and forests to spare, and what makes this province truly unique is Alberta’s diversity when it comes to the landscapes that are just waiting to be discovered.

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Many of the most beautiful places close to Calgary sit an hour and a half’s drive away in Kananaskis Country, but that isn’t the only place in the province that you can get a stunning photo or go on a memorable day trip — it’s all about finding those hidden gems in this place that we call home.

And with the entire Canadian Rockies to explore, there are quite a few gorgeous spots just waiting to be found.

Here are a few of our favourite spots to check out, either this summer or later in the year.

… Just be sure to bring a coat if you opt for the latter.

For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your hike is available from Albertaparks.ca and AdventureSmart.

Lake Louise

alberta

Lake Louise/Shutterstock

This glacier-fed lake nestled into the towering Rocky Mountains is a perfect illustration of the beauty that Alberta has to offer.

With its shimmering turquoise water reflecting the snow-tipped mountains above, it’s no surprise that people come from all over the world to get a look at this natural spectacle.

Lake Louise also hosts the beautiful Chateau Lake Louise on its eastern shore, which offers insane views of the lake and surrounding wilderness—a perfect backdrop for those travel photo shoots.

Larch Valley

alberta

Larch Valley (Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock)

The colours of Larch Valley alone will have you reaching for your camera.

Nestled into the mountains surrounding Lake Louise, Sentinel Pass brings you to Larch Valley’s forests of yellowing trees and dazzling views.

The best time to experience the colours is in September, though that also means there will be a few other travellers to share the trail with.

It is recommended to call ahead to ensure that there is space in the overflow lots by Moraine Lake – there’s a free shuttle that takes you to the trailhead from there, but the lines might be long at that time of year.

A small sacrifice to make for a breath-taking day trip.

Horseshoe Lake

alberta

Horseshoe Lake (laurenevangeline5/Instagram)

If you’re tired of floating down the Bow River and want to try something a little more exciting this summer, we’ve got just the place for you.

Horseshoe Lake is a gorgeous hidden gem located in Jasper National Park, providing Albertans and visitors alike the perfect spot to cool off after a quick hike.

Some of the more daring adventurers may even try their hand bodies at cliff jumping from the lake’s various take-off spots — though, given the dangers of literally jumping off a cliff, we’d advise simply walking into the cool blue waters instead.

Quarry Lake Park

alberta

Quarry Lake Park (freyaorban/Instagram)

This lake is so beautiful that it’s not a rare sight to see a wedding ceremony on its shores.

Quarry Lake Park, located near Canmore, Alberta, is a swimmable body of water surrounded by grassy fields and the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.

This is the perfect place to cool off, spend the day with friends, or even tie the knot with that special someone.

Moraine Lake

alberta

Calgary/Shutterstock

Attention Instagram hikers, this bright blue lake may be something you want to snap a shot of this summer.

Moraine lake offers a breathtaking view, with its turquoise water surrounded by towering, snow-covered mountain peaks. The best time to visit the magnificent lake is between the months of late-June and August, when the glaciers have melted.

Rock flour, a sediment caused by glacial erosion, refracts the light of the sun, which is what gives the lake its jaw-droppingly vibrant colour.

Castle Falls

alberta

Castle Falls (crowngeotourism/Instagram)

Come be the queen — or king — of the castle at Alberta’s Castle Falls this summer.

If you are looking for an off-the-grid area to get away with your hubby or a group of friends this is the place. The falls are a crisp, clear blue, and ready for you to take them on during a scorching summer day.

If you’re an avid swim hole enthusiast, you’ll love these waters, as they make for the perfect place to cool off, while their somewhat-hidden nature will ensure that the falls aren’t too crowded.

Lake Minnewanka

alberta

Image: Lake Minnewanka / Shutterstock

Lake Minnewanka is probably one of Alberta’s most beautiful lakes. It might not have the same shimmering waters you can find in the upper reaches of the Rockies, but it more than makes up for it with its beautiful skies and picture perfect surroundings.

The lake itself is 21 kilometres long and 142 metres deep, taking the silver for second largest lake in the Canadian Rockies. Visitors can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and even ice diving, in and around its expansive waters.

Athabasca Falls

alberta

Athabasca Falls (kavram/Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for adventure, take a look no further than the gorgeous province you live in —  Alberta is filled to the brim with beautiful places to visit, and Athabasca Falls is at the top of the list.

The canyon is tucked away in Jasper National Park, and its name comes from the Cree word meaning “grass or reeds here and there.”

The crisp, cool blue water that flows through these falls comes straight from the glaciers in the Columbia Icefield.

Waterton Lakes

alberta

Image: Waterton Lakes / Shutterstock

Pull out a pen and paper, because Waterton Lakes National Park is going onto your 2018 bucket list.

With its beautiful blue waters and deep roots in Canadian history, Waterton Lakes National Park makes for the perfect place to brush up on your high-school history while relaxing and taking in the scenic views.

Waterton Lakes National Park was named in honour of Squire Charles Waterton, a British Naturalist, and was the fourth national park in Canada, established in 1895.

Last year, wildfires devastated Alberta, destroying areas of the park which still remain out of commission and are closed until further notice from Parks Canada, though there are still plenty of open spots to check out.

Tunnel Mountain (Banff)

alberta

View from Tunnel Mountain in Banff/Shutterstock

Banff’s Tunnel Mountain, a small peak encircled by the Town of Banff and the Banff hot springs, features a mere 2.3-kilometre trail to get to the very top, and once you’re there you’re treated to a stunning view of the town and surrounding mountains.

The 300-metre elevation doesn’t have much on the other peaks in the area, but it is by far the easiest choice for people wanting a nice activity for the day, but don’t happen to have their climbing gear or ice picks handy.

The trail does get pretty busy during the summer — which can be seen as a good thing, depending on how you look at it — though, with a 360° view, there are plenty of lookout points to check out away from the crowds.

Jasper

alberta

Northern lights (Katrin York/Shutterstock)

Since 2011, Jasper National Park has been designated as a Dark Sky Preserve, ensuring that the night sky as seen from the area is nothing but shining stars, a glowing moon, and clear constellations.

Every October, the Town of Jasper hosts the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival to celebrate their designation, and to come together in appreciating the stunning night sky.

Even after October is over the nighttime views from the preserve are nothing short of remarkable, attracting visitors the world over to get a glimpse at their northern sights (and lights!).

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake (jayrmcdonald/Instagram)

Located just a short way’s away from Alberta’s Icefields Parkways, Peyto Lake offers stunning lookout points unparalleled by anywhere else in the world — unless you count the other spots on this list, that is.

The lake water turns a light blue during the summer and acts as the ideal backdrop or any adventuring photographer.

There are plenty of hikes around the area for that perfect vantage point (as shown above), though an easy day by lakeside would likely be just as stunning.

Think we missed your favourite Alberta spot? Let us know in the comments! 

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DH Calgary Staff
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