Alberta was made for family fun. Pack a picnic, load the kids in the vehicle and hit the road to discover unusual attractions, remarkable sites, and beautiful scenery. Even with higher fuel prices, road trips are still one of the most economical forms of travel and they provide the opportunity for families to connect with each other and with the natural world.
As a parent of four children, road trips were one of my favorite family travel adventures. Sometimes we’d plan a road trip with a specific destination in mind. Other times, we’d make a side trip on our way to visit relatives or to attend a sporting event one of our children was participating in. Whether it was a destination road trip or a side trip, we had adventures and made memories together.
After many years of exploring Alberta with my family, I started writing books about the places we went. My two newest books are called Top 150 Unusual Things to See in Alberta and 200 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta. I wrote the second book with Leigh McAdam, a good friend and a passionate nature lover. I hope these books will help inspire you and your family to find new places to explore together.
Here are four amazing road trips to enjoy with your children this spring and summer:
Okotoks Erratic – The Big Rock is Sacred in Blackfoot Culture
The world’s largest known glacial erratic lies about 10km southwest of Okotoks. The 16,500 tonne quartzite rock originally came from an area near Mount Edith Cavell, a mountain more than 450km northwest in Jasper National Park. Glacial erratics are common in Alberta, but the Okotoks Erratic is the largest one known to exist. Thousands of years ago, Alberta was covered with glacial ice. When rocks fell onto the ice and the glaciers moved, they carried the rocks with them and deposited them across the prairies. The Blackfoot People have long considered this particular erratic to be sacred. There are many legends about the stone and you can learn about the legends and the science through interpretive signage at this site. It’s free to visit.
RCMP Police Dog Training Centre – Summer Demonstrations Are Back!
The RCMP’s police academy for dogs is located right off the QE2 Highway just outside Innisfail. The RCMP have been using police dogs to assist with their duties since 1935. The RCMP Police Dog Training Centre was established in Innisfail in 1965. The center holds regular public demonstrations on Wednesdays from 2 to 2:45pm from Victoria Day to Labour Day. The demonstrations are free of charge and they’re interesting. Other area attractions include the Innisfail Historical Village and Discovery Wildlife Park.
Heart Creek Bunker Hike - Explore a Cold War Bunker in Kananaskis Country
In Kananaskis, you can hike inside a partially completed nuclear shelter. It’s an easy and safe way to hike inside a cave as a family. Heart Creek Bunker was a Cold War-era business idea. The idea was to store important records inside the cave in case of nuclear disaster. The company responsible for the idea built the cave in the side of a mountain, but went out of business before it was fully completed. Today, you can hike to the cave and wander through the inside of it. You’ll need a headlamp or flashlights – something that made it even more appealing to my family. Start from the same parking lot that is marked for the Heart Creek Hike in Kananaskis. It’s a 4km return hike.
Dinosaur Provincial Park – Dinosaur Fossils and More
Located about 30km southwest of Brooks, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with fascinating programming, remarkable scenery, an excellent campground and the highest concentration of late Cretaceous Period fossils in the world. When one of our children had a baseball tournament in Brooks, we added this spot to the road trip plans and had an amazing time. Register in advance at albertaparks.ca for free bus tours, hikes and other programs that will take you to areas that are otherwise inaccessible.
Debbie is an award-winning Métis writer and a national bestselling author. Follow her at wanderwoman.ca.
See our related articles:
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2023 Calgary’s Child