From world-class rodeos to raging rivers, sky-high peaks to serene wilderness, this epic 2,100-mile road trip across western Canada offers the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most stunning landscapes and exciting attractions in the country, all before arriving in the great state of Alaska. Whether it’s living out a Wild West fantasy or finding the trout stream of your dreams, the only barrier to adventure is your imagination on the road to the “Last Frontier.”
1) Lethbridge, Alberta
Just three hours across the border from Great Falls, Montana, Lethbridge has long been a way station for travelers headed north and west. Explore the town’s checkered past at the popular Galt Museum, home to some 17,000 artifacts and more than a million archival documents and photographs. If that isn’t enough to appease the history buff in you, Fort Whoop-Up, a replica of the original fur-trading fort, offers guided tours of the historic grounds. From the illegal whiskey trade to the legacy of the regions’ First Nations people, it’s a fascinating introduction to the history of southern Alberta.
2) Calgary, Alberta
Drive 132 miles • 2 hours, 15 minutes
That same pioneer past comes alive at the legendary Calgary Stampede in July, one of the world’s largest rodeos and a must-see for those with a love of cowboy culture. Featuring world-class competitors at the top of their game, as well as parades, concerts, First Nations exhibitions and more, the annual ten-day event draws nearly a million visitors from across the globe. Other attractions like the famed Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park Historical Village, Aspen Crossing Railway and the nearby Dinosaur Provincial Park are sure to keep you busy long after the rodeo has left town.
3) Jasper National Park, Alberta
Drive 189 miles • 3 hours, 33 minutes
Behold the Canadian Rockies, one of nature’s greatest natural wonders. From snow-capped peaks to glacial lakes, the landscape here never fails to impress, and there’s no better place to immerse yourself in the wonder of it all than Jasper National Park, one of the country’s premier wildernesses. Get the lay of the land with a ride on the Jasper SkyTram, the highest and longest aerial tram in Canada, before exploring the many lakes, rivers and mountains that beckon nature lovers in all four seasons. Whether you’re gearing up for a relaxing hike to the Valley of the Five Lakes, a multi-day trip on the Skyline Trail or a photo op among the wildflowers of the famed Mount Edith Cavell Meadows, the opportunities for outdoors fun are nearly endless.
Glowing Embers RV Park & Travel Centre • AB – (877) 785-7275
4) Grande Prairie, Alberta
Drive 313 miles • 5 hours, 56 minutes
Home to a bountiful supply of nature walks, Provincial Parks and one-of-a-kind museums, Grande Prairie stands out as a central hub among the serene backdrop of Peace River Country. The Phillip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum includes interactive exhibits that bring 75 million years of history to life, while the Grande Prairie Museum preserves the region’s pioneer legacy through thousands of artifacts and a working Heritage Village. The pride and joy of Grande Prairie, though, is the iconic trumpeter swans that populate the waterways in and around town. To see the regal birds in their natural habitats, head to Bear Lake or nearby Saskatoon Island Provincial Park.
Bear Paw Campground • Grande Prairie, AB – (780) 402-8777
Camp Tamarack RV Park • Grande Prairie, AB – (877) 532-9998
Country Roads RV Park • Grande Prairie, AB – (866) 532-6323
Grande Prairie Visitor Information Centre • Grande Prairie, AB – (866) 202-2202
5) Dawson Creek, British Columbia
Drive 81 miles • 1 hour, 36 minutes
A quirky town with a singular claim to fame, Dawson Creek is known as Mile Zero of the monumental Alaskan Highway. Finished in 1942, the highway is a testament to the will and ingenuity of the 30,000 soldiers and civilians who battled through rugged wilderness to construct one of the world’s most famous roads. Learn more about the incredible engineering feat at the Alaska Highway House, where hands-on exhibits bring the massive scale of the project into focus. The Dawson Creek Historic Walking Tour offers even more insight into the region’s long frontier history, culminating in a visit to the Walter Wright Pioneer Village, a collection of both original and replica buildings that shine a light on the daily life of the area’s first settlers.
6) Watson Lake, Yukon
Drive 600 miles • 11 hours, 51 minutes
Situated among the rolling hills of southern Yukon, Watson Lake offers a welcoming rest stop on your journey north. In addition to local destinations like Wye Lake and the Liard River Canyon for boating and fishing fun, it’s also home to one of the more endearing landmarks you’re likely to experience during your travels. Started by a homesick soldier during WWII, the Sign Post Forest began as a single directional arrow pointing 2,671 miles to the soldier’s hometown. Soon, visitors began adding their own markers and now over 85,000 signs point the way to hometowns around the world. After wandering the trails — and even adding your own sign — head to the Northern Lights Space and Science Center where the mesmerizing beauty of aurora borealis comes to life before your eyes.
7) Whitehorse, Yukon
Drive 272 miles • 5 hours, 18 minutes
Capital of the Yukon and home to the vast majority of the territory’s population, Whitehorse is also the region’s cultural hub with an exciting array of attractions that preserve the city’s rollicking past. A visit to the S.S. Klondike, the last of the great Yukon River sternwheel ferries, offers the chance to experience the glory days of the Gold Rush, while the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre steps back in time with Ice Age-era exhibits, including recreated archaeological sites, full-size casts of prehistoric animals and more. Of course, outdoors adventurers will have plenty to keep them busy as well. Whether it’s a day hike to Miles Canyon, paddling the Yukon, or a thrill-filled whitewater outing on the Tatshenshini River, the Wilderness City is full of surprises.
8) Fairbanks, Alaska
Drive 589 miles • 10 hours, 55 minutes
The road to Alaska ends in Fairbanks, nearly eleven hours to the northwest. Something of an urban oasis in the Alaskan interior, the small city is home to fascinating attractions like the Museum of the North, the Ice Museum, and the Pioneer Air Museum, but the real draw here is the proximity to endless outdoors adventure. From hiking, fishing and hot springs at the Chena River State Recreation Area, to bucket-list backcountry excursions in Denali National Park and the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, the “Golden Heart of Alaska” is the gateway to extreme environments.