Southern Alberta is a region in Alberta, Canada. The region features flat wheat fields and ranchlands but also has the Rocky Mountains in the furthest western portion and badland and hoodoo formations and a paleontology hotbed. It is also an area rich with aboriginal history.
- 1 Brooks - Jumping off point for Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- 2 Drumheller - The focal point of the Alberta badlands, best known for its museum of paleontology.
- 3 East Coulee - Small community near Drumheller in the badlands, known for its abandoned coal mine.
- 4 Hanna - Small town northeast of Calgary.
- 5 Medicine Hat - Second largest city in Southern Alberta. It has a pretty river valley and is the jumping off point for Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.
- 6 Milk River - Small town along the river of the same name, one of the few locations in Canada within the Mississippi River watershed.
- 7 Oyen - Small town near the Saskatchewan border.
- 8 Taber - Known as the "Corn Capital of Canada".
- 9 Cardston - Small town in the foothills best known for its carriage museum and Mormon temple.
- 10 Claresholm - Small town between Calgary and Lethbridge.
- 11 Crowsnest Pass - Southern Alberta's gateway to the Rockies.
- 12 Fort Macleod - Jumping off point for Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- 13 Lethbridge - Fourth largest city in Alberta and centre of Southern Alberta. It has a pretty river valley and variety of attractions.
- 14 Nanton - Small town south of Calgary known for its charming downtown and antique stores.
- 15 Pincher Creek - Small town in the foothills north of Waterton Lakes National Park.
- 16 Vulcan - Small town southeast of Calgary and the "Official Star Trek Capital of Canada."
- 1 Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.
- 2 Waterton Lakes National Park - A true natural gem in the Rockies in Alberta's extreme southwest. It is connected to Glacier National Park in Montana to form Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park.
- 3 Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park — Canada's highest point between the Rockies and the Labrador peninsula
- 4 Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump — in use for 5,500 years as a place where the Indigenous people of the plains killed buffalo by stampeding them over a cliff
- 5 Dinosaur Provincial Park — rich collection of dinosaur fossils and its interesting badlands landscapes
- 6 Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park — has the greatest concentration of rock art on the North American Great Plains
Southern Alberta is lined to the west by the Canadian Rockies and their foothills, while the rest of the region is dominated by the semi-arid prairies where farms and ranches have been built, often with the help of irrigation. The region features areas such as Waterton Lakes National Park, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, while sites such as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Dinosaur Provincial Park were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Alberta Badlands, a kind of weird and wonderful eroded landscape, are developed in the northeast of the region, prominently along the Red Deer River. Badlands are also found to the south in North Dakota and South Dakota in the United States. The best single destination for viewing the Alberta badlands is the world heritage listed Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks. There are a number of good fossil beds and exhibits in this region. Top among them are the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, and Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks. They are 177 km (110 mi) apart, and each demands a day or two of attention, so allow at least three days to see them all. Both feature interpretive tours, that are also easy to moderate hikes, during the summer months.
Cypress Hills, in the east, at the border with Saskatchewan, are the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador.
From the United States
There are four main land border crossing points, between the Southern Alberta and the Northwestern Montana and Russell Country regions of Montana, USA. They are referred to by different terms in Canada and the US.
|Canadian name||US name||Location||Hours||Comments|
|Coutts||Sweetgrass||Coutts, AB (Hwy 4) – Sweet Grass, MT (I-15)||24 hours, daily
• Canada-bound: M-F 3PM–5PM, closed holidays
• US-bound: 24 hours, NEXUS is accepted in all lanes
|Primary border crossing point for passenger vehicles and the only 24 hour crossing into Alberta.|
|Carway||Piegan||Cardston, AB (Hwy 2) – Babb, MT (US-89)||7AM-11PM, daily|
There are three other crossings between Montana and Alberta, check ahead as hours will vary by season.
|Chief Mountain||Waterton Park, AB (Hwy 6) – Babb, MT (MT-17)||May 15-May 31: daily 8AM–11PM
June 1-Labour Day: daily 7AM–10PM
Tuesday following Labour Day to Sept 30: daily 9AM–6PM
Oct 1-May 14: CLOSED
|Connects Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park; closed during the winter.|
|Del Bonita||Del Bonita, AB (Hwy 61) – Cut Bank, MT (MT-213)||Jun 1-Sept 16: Passengers daily 8AM–11PM
Sep 16-May 31: Passengers daily 9AM–6PM
|Isolated border crossing located 51 km (32 mi) south of Magrath, AB and 40 mi (64 km) northwest of Cut Bank, MT.|
|Wild Horse||Wild Horse, AB (Hwy 41) – Havre, MT (MT-232)||May 15-Sept 30: Passengers daily 8AM–11PM
Oct 1-May 14: Passengers daily 8AM–5PM
|Isolated border crossing located 145 km (90 mi) south of Medicine Hat, AB and 43 mi (69 km) northwest of Havre, MT.|
From other places in Canada
- Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) − connects to Vancouver, Kamloops, Calgary, and Regina; passes through Medicine Hat
- Highway 2 − connects to Calgary and Edmonton; continues into Montana as US Highway 89
- Highway 3 (Crowsnest Highway) − connects to Cranbrook, BC; passes through Lethbridge and Medicine Hat
- Highway 9 − connects to Calgary and Saskatoon (becomes Saskatchewan Highway 7); passes through Drumheller
- Highway 22 (Cowboy Trail) − alternate route from Calgary which passes through the foothills
- Red Arrow, toll-free: . Bus service from Calgary to Lethbridge.
- Mountain Man Mike's Bus Service. Service from Calgary and Kaslo, British Columbia to Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, and Pincher Creek. This service is suspended as of Jan 2021.
If you're interested in dinosaurs, the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, and Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks must be on your list. At the other end of the spectrum, science fiction fans are drawn to Vulcan for its Star Trek kitsch.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their importance in understanding the Indigenous peoples of the region.
The Fort McLeod Museum of the North West Mounted Police and the Fort Walsh National Historic Site in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park explore the history of Canadian policing in the West in the late 19th century.
Medicine Hat is home to the World's Largest Teepee, and is an international centre for ceramic arts, focused on its Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District.
The Hoodoos Trail near Drumheller takes you out to see a collection of fantastical stone columns with caprocks.
Go hiking or take a lake cruise in the spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park on the border with the United States, or go hiking in the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, which spills across the border into Saskatchewan.
There are many national and provincial parks that allow a wide range of recreational pursuits in beautiful settings, from hiking and camping to fishing and golfing to swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or tubing in the Milk River.
Vul-Con, in Vulcan at the end of July, is the local Star Trek convention.