11 stunning spots to visit on a road trip through the Canadian Badlands

Sep 16 2020, 6:14 pm

With travel bans and health restrictions ruling 2020, there’s truly no better time to hit the highway and explore our own backyard here in Alberta. 

Known for its Wild West spirit and historical charm, the Canadian Badlands is filled with one-of-a-kind adventures, small towns, and special attractions. The best part? It’s only a short drive away. From hiking the hoodoos and digging for fossils, to sleeping in historic hotels or under the Northern Lights, there’s no shortage of fun and first-time experiences to be had.

So pack your bags, grab a few friends from your bubble, and shuffle those tunes as you prepare to journey back in time throughout the Canadian Badlands. Don’t forget your camera, you’re guaranteed lots of Insta-worthy opportunities!

DNA Gardens 

 

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This orchard boasts 12 acres of fruit trees producing everything from Saskatoon berries, to cherries, black currants, raspberries, apples, plums, and pears. Enjoy a self-guided nature treck on site or hit up the local farm store for gelato, honey, jams, preserves, or some fresh fruit juice and a pie to keep you going on the road. Pro tip: they also offer wine tours in the fall. 

Royal Tyrrell Museum

Up next is an Alberta classic. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a world-renowned paleontology museum and research facility. You can spend hours roaming through prehistoric displays, studying real-life fossils, and understanding Alberta’s extraordinary fossil record. Or, take a walk on the outdoor trails to see archaeology work happening in real-time. Make sure you pre-book your tickets in advance, that way, you can guarantee a spot and help everyone stay safe and healthy throughout the entire experience

Orkney Viewpoint

 

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After exploring prehistoric Alberta, take a short drive north to Orkney Point and take in one of the most coveted views of the valley. The viewpoint is situated above the red rock cliffs and boasts an unmissable landscape featuring the snakey Red Deer River. It’s 100% Insta-worthy! 

Horseshoe Canyon

 

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If you’re looking for another opportunity to stretch your legs, we recommend adding this attraction to your road trip hit list. The Horseshoe Canyon is a 3 km loop that boasts some incredible views of the rugged landscape (and looks like something straight out of Jurassic Park). Don’t miss out on the stairs — they might look daunting, but the view is completely worth it.

Little Fish Lake Provincial Park

 

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Once you’ve taken in the beautiful views of the Red Deer Valley, head east for the night to the shores of Little Fish Lake. The campground is a bit off the beaten path but offers all the basic amenities that you need. Waking up to a sunrise above the lake is an unmissable experience and the best way to start off your next day on the road. If you plan on sticking around, spend some peaceful time kayaking or paddleboarding on the lake. 

Dinosaur Provincial Park 

 

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Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, the recognizable terracotta land sculptures and formations make this park hard to miss. It’s also home to some of the most notable fossil discoveries, including the “age of reptiles,” a collection of 35 dinosaur species dated back more than 75 million years ago. If you’re the Ross Geller of the group (aka paleontology-obsessed), we recommend booking a guided tour workshop or embarking on a self-guided hike through the hoodoos.

Kinbrook Island Provincial Park

 

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This little island park just minutes from the city of Brooks offers plenty of opportunities for relaxing beach time that will force your group to slow down and chill. There’s nothing better than ending the day with a warm shower and a campfire on the beach! Be aware that Alberta Parks is limiting the number of people in the day-use area, so reserving a campsite or getting there early in the day is recommended. 

World’s Largest Teepee 

 

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Marvel in the tremendous presence of this sacred Saamis Teepee. Originally built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, this landmark pays homage to Canada’s Indigenous heritage and culture. The Teepee is essentially equivalent to a 20-storey building (you read that right). It overlooks the breathtaking Seven Persons coulee, which was once a buffalo camp and meat processing site. Now, it’s one of the primary Saamis Archaeological Sites that works to uncover the many pieces of history and artifacts hidden amongst the plains. 

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Dark Sky Reserve

 

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With absolutely no light pollution, the Cypress Hills is the perfect spot to stop for an uninterrupted stargazing experience. If you’re lucky, you might even catch the Northern Lights. Spending a few nights here is completely worth it as this provincial park offers tons of outdoor experiences, hiking trails, and even glamping in year-round cabins and huts if you’re tired of setting up the tent.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

 

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As you begin to make your way back home, may we suggest taking the long way through Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park? A newly named UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park features petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) and was filed under the Blackfoot language word Áísínaiʼpi, meaning “it is pictured/written.” Camp in the magical Milk River Valley and enjoy this 10,000-year-old journey as you get a last stunning look at the Albertan hoodoos. 

Field Stone Fruit Winery

 

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There’s no better way to end off the trip with a visit to Alberta’s first estate winery (samples please!). Located just outside of Strathmore, the estate owns over 50 acres of berry orchids including raspberries, black cherries, black currants, rhubarb, red cherries, and more. Make sure to bring a bottle home as a souvenir of your 2020 road trip through the Canadian Badlands. 


Ready to start planning your next road trip? Head to the Canadian Badlands website and download the Digital Experience Guide to get inspired and explore the many attractions and adventures to be had in this beautiful country. Don’t forget to tag them on Instagram using the hashtag #mybadlands so we can all follow along on your journey.

This content was created by Hive Labs in partnership with a sponsor
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