We had quite the two week road trip from beautiful British Columbia through Alberta. It had been a few years since I had seen my older sister and her family that are in Medicine Hat, Alberta. The last time we saw them, my oldest was almost two years old. Next week, Madison turns five. I have had two kids since then, so I thought it was our turn to pop in for a visit. We had been through some of Alberta before, mainly Jasper National Park, Edmonton and Calgary, but it was years between those trips, so we were overdue to explore Alberta in more ways than one.
Darcy was unable to take time off work right now with all the other plans have have coming up and for the rest of the summer, so I invited my twin sister (who lives near us in BC) along for the fun. I’m not sure if Darcy even missed us with all the peace and quiet he had — aside from his honey-do-list.
My three year old, Sadie, sure took a liking to all those mountains. She drove me a little crazy after a while because everytime she would see some bold outstanding mountain scene– she would yell “Mommy, MOUNTAINS! Pull over NOWWWWW! Take a picture!” Her expression of love for the mountains was exactly what we felt each time we saw the pretty scene, so I couldn’t help but giggle about it each time after she stopped screaming at me. Sometimes I was able to pull over, other times pulling over wouldn’t have been safe.
Here are the main spots we stopped at during our trip. More detailed stories to come as I work my way through thousands of photos. Both British Columbia and Alberta are such gorgeous places and blew our minds again and again.
Our trip started off in the rain. We were hoping to do the popular Revelstoke Mountain Coaster, but it does not run in the rain. Instead we went hiking and almost came face to face with a bear. The people heading back once we had almost reached the end of the trail told us there had just been a bear there a few minutes ago. That was the closest we have come to seeing a bear face to face with three kids with us, when it wasn’t from the comfort of our van. The hike was beautiful among the trees and the views really would have been even more spectacular with blue skies and sunshine. Sunshine is my favourite kind of weather, can you tell?
Just outside of Revelstoke we stopped at the Enchanted Forest for the kids. You walk through the forest through Fairytale story set ups, be it characters, houses or a pirate ship. The kids had a ton of fun; adults look at these fairytale structures and think a lot of it is just a bit creepy.
Emerald Lake, BC
A stop at the beautiful Emerald Lake was a must. It was a great stop to get out and stretch our legs. We wished we had more time to go for a paddle, but it wasn’t in the cards this time. It was so peaceful and pretty; it almost didn’t feel real.
When we were in Jasper National Park a few years ago camping with the kids, the only part of Banff we had time to see over our long weekend was Lake Louise. Since then I had been craving to see more of Banff, so that was a big ticket item on the list. We walked through the main town area, visited Sunshine Meadows, took a dip in the Hot Springs and camped at Two Jack main. Banff still left me wanting to go back for more and I have a feeling that it always will.
The Calgary Stampede is raved about all over and we have always wanted to see what the fuss was about. Out here we have the PNE, which is nothing compared to all that we saw the Calgary Stampede has to do and see. The Stampede was a great time and there was way too much to see in the one day that we had to explore.
We aren’t big on Zoo’s, especially since having been on a safari. When you have kids though, your hands are kind of tied on that one. We loved the fun Dinosaur section of the Zoo and the kids loved being able to see a Panda bear.
I also have to mention that when we travel now, our girls are waterslide addicts. So we try to book hotels that have a waterslide. Our Calgary hotel did and the girls could not get enough — it was the perfect way to cool down and get refreshed, and tired out before bedtime.
Sundance Lodges, AB
It was a bit of a detour to stay in one of these incredible tipis in Kananaskis, but it was well worth the breathtaking and scenic drive to get there. The stars at night were so dreamy and we could hear the rushing water coming from somewhere in the forest behind us as we drifted off to sleep.
The last time I was in Edmonton, I was 18. My sister and I had done a trip right after we graduated from high school to go hang out at the mall and visit some long time family friends. It was only fitting that we went back there again together and relived some of those fun moments we remember. The waterpark was a huge hit, of course. I was surprised how much there was to do at the Waterpark for kids five and under. The youngest lasted three hours, but if we had all the time in the world, I’m sure they could have kept going all day long. We also stayed one night in a Polynesian theme room at the Fantasyland Hotel in the mall. The kids had bunk beds, I picked up some fake bubbly and plastic wine glasses and we had our drinks as we relaxed in the hot tub. The girls felt like “big girls” and they loved every minute of feeling special. We even hopped in a photo booth with the kids, where Jacob was less than impressed.
Fun fact: My first bungee jumping experience was at West Edmonton Mall. They no longer have the bungee jump in the Waterpark, but it was a neat way to first experience that thrill.
After our second day at the mall we headed to Elk Island for some camping. We were super excited to see some wildlife and had some great sightings. It was incredible to see SO MANY Bison and saw a beaver for the first time.
Dinosaur Provincial Park, AB
This was another one of our favourite spots on our trip. We went on an Explorer Bus tour and the girls were totally in their element searching for dinosaur bones. Madison couldn’t stop asking questions and it was so impressive to see what was going on in her head. The question that impressed me most was when we were looking at a pile of dinosaur bones that had yet to be dug out. The bones were all randomly scattered in a pile from whatever made them shift into the mess when the dinosaur died. In museums, you’ll see the bones perfectly laid out and Madison asked about why the skeleton was “all broken”. Amazing what connections an almost five year old can make. She also ran up to me a few times before running off again to learn more to tell me “Mommy, this is so cool!” At three, Sadie totally feeds off Madison’s energy and conversation, too. Madison’s excitement became Sadie’s excitement.
The camping was in such a neat desert environment. The stars that night were the most mind blowing we have seen anywhere in Canada since we were in such a dark area of the campground. I could have stayed up all night, looking up, if I didn’t have to get up to drive the next morning… and if the bugs would have stopped trying to eat me alive.
Another highlight was the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. We hit a big storm passing through Drumheller. We went into the museum with clouds overhead and came out to a complete downpour and thunder and lightening. I love a good storm, but it didn’t make us want to hop in and out of the car too much around the town to get all soaked and have to pull out all the clothes to get everyone changed. We still made sure we enjoyed our time driving around the town and looking at all the quirky dinosaurs on benches on each corner. We wanted to climb up the World’s Biggest Dinosaur, but we were told it was made of metal, so in lightening they shut it down because it is dangerous. Next time! Luckily, driving towards our next destination of Medicine Hat had us driving into blue skies and sunshine.
Medicine Hat, AB
We had a couple days visiting with the family and it was SUCH a good time. We had a pizza and dance party, spent time at the park and the waterpark and went to Echo Dale Regional Park for some fun in the sun and sand. It was so nice to be able to reconnect in person after a few years and now I’m determined to make it more of a regular thing. It is so easy to get caught up in busy life when you live in different Provinces, but we will figure it out, somehow!
Waterton National Park, AB
Waterton is breathtaking. From the cute main town area to the wildlife spotting and outstanding scenery, it is a place that I hope everyone gets to experience. Red Rock Canyon Parkway was closed from the wildfire they had last summer, so I was wondering if we would even see any bears — I heard it is a popular drive to see bears. You could still hike it, but we really needed to maximize the use of our time in the park. We saw wildflowers that created the most beautiful scene, Moose in the swamp, and bears galore in the hills above the main roads. Both days we were in the park we even saw a Mama bear and three cubs and there were deer roaming the campground day and night.
On our way to Cranbrook, just after we passed Fernie, the highway was closed from a car accident, without a detour. Luckily in todays world you can look up what is happening where you are online, so we knew the road would be closed for at least another hour. We figured instead of sitting there waiting, we would turn around and see what we could find for the kids to play. We went in the direction of a lake and didn’t even make it all the way to the lake we intended, when we came across this. It felt like we were transported somewhere out of BC — that is how beautiful this lake area was. It’s clear, blue waters were the perfect spot for us to splash around in and play for just over an hour, until to road opened back up again. This spot was thirty minutes from Fernie, down the street from Kikomun Creek Provincial Park.
Our goal from staying in Cranbrook was to get to some more hot springs, with two hot springs both being an hour away. The first day we went to Fairmont Hot Springs, at a resort. It was nice that they had a few different temperature swimming pools, with a big cooler pool where the kids could have fun and a deep end with diving boards. It was great for the kids to splash around and play, but $35 for myself and Madison to swim for a bit seemed a little crazy (the other two kids were still free).
The next day we got up early and headed to some hot springs that are found down a long service road, Lussier River Hot Springs. Those hot springs were more our style and until around noon, there weren’t too many people there. As we were leaving, the crowds were starting to show up. If you go, get there early for some peaceful time in nature. You’ll fall so in love with the hot springs that you won’t want to tell your friends (you’re welcome).
I am always amazed when I visit somewhere incredible in BC that I had not been before and it really is not that far of a drive from Vancouver. Osoyoos was one of those places that had me wondering why I had not yet been. The town seemed a little quiet though, and I wondered if it was because the main Osoyoos beach hotel, which is quite big, closed for renovations due to flooding. We had booked our time there and the hotel cancelled the reservation. Luckily, we found a spot left at the Avalon Inn and all turned out okay. Driving back to make our way home to Vancouver and going through Pentiction — that is were it seemed the party was with the lazy river and the popular beaches. If only we had known!
Just before we were leaving Osoyoos we started telling the girls about the Kangaroos in Kelowna. Once we saw their excitement, we knew we had to take them. It is a couple hour drive, so after some beach time in the morning heat in Osoyoos, we got back in the car for another drive. Madison probably vaguely remembered going there, but Sadie was so small she wouldn’t remember. They had expanded a lot since we had been a couple years ago and we made it just in time to get some cuddles with the baby Joeys. The girls were beaming with happiness as they cuddled the little babies!
Our trip to Alberta was such a fun journey — the kids are already asking what our next adventure is. They were totally fine with just Mommy and Auntie Diana for two weeks, but they are excited that Daddy gets to come on the next one — camping at Alouette Lake in beautiful British Columbia, just as Darcy did each summer growing up.
Keep checking back for more details and photos of our Alberta trip — there are a few thousand to sort through. When you’re around such beautiful scenery, you can’t help but keep snapping!