“The true north strong and free” is an iconic line from O Canada that to many conjures up images of Northern Alberta. The region boasts pristine rivers and lakes, pure, clean air, wildlife, wilderness and cities that are more like big, friendly towns.
But there’s history here too. With numerous cultural festivals and opportunities for avid sportsmen, adventurers, sightseers, explorers, bird watchers, campers, hikers, and bikers, there’s a pace and a place to suit all styles in this pristine corner of Canada.
Check out these 5 must see spots in northern Alberta:
Lesser Slave Lake
Lesser Slave Lake is home to the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory and is just three miles away from the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation. Birders flock to the area during Spring and Fall migrations, to catch glimpses of migrating Sandhill Cranes, thrushes, sandpipers, ducks, and the majestic Golden Eagle – just to name a few. You can even volunteer at the observatory to help with the banding each spring and fall.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Alberta Open Sand Sculpture Championships (July 16, 2011). Even if you’re not competing, the sand sculptures are spectacular and the activity-filled day is fun for the whole family.
Check out the Lesser Slave Lake visitors guide
Mighty Peace Country
Ever wonder why they call it the Mighty Peace River or how 12 Foot Davis got his name? Answers to these and lots of other questions can be found in beautiful Mighty Peace Country. Peace Country has awe-inspiring scenery and history at every turn,
Visit Historic Dunvegan, one of the oldest fur trading posts in Alberta situated in it’s original location, Just getting to Historic Dunvegan is an experience, as you’ll get to travel across Dunvegan Bridge – Alberta’s longest spanning suspension bridge. Mighty Peace Country is ideal for anglers, hunters, campers and outdoorsmen. It’s loaded with lakes, rivers, and wildlife and boasts numerous campgrounds - many of which are accessible by car, but others can only be reached by ATV.
Read the Mighty Peace Country visitors guide
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the town of Athabasca. One hundred years ago, Athabasca was an important trade hub for the Hudson’s Bay Company and a gateway to the Klondike. There’s a lot of history in the area and one of the best places to learn about the traders, trappers and gold miners who made this town the place it is today, is at the Athabasca Archives (open Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 4 pm.) While you’re there enjoying the centennial celebrations, take a hike through Muskeg Creek Park where the trails take you through stunning Boreal Forest where you may catch sight of deer, Moose and maybe even a bear – all within the limits of the town of Athabasca. Click here for the Athabasca County visitors guide
Fort McMurray is Canada’s petroleum boomtown. Here you can take a bus tour, and learn about the process of changing bitumen into crude oil. All industry aside, Fort McMurray has lots more to offer. Sportsmen and women are drawn to the area for hunting, fishing, camping, ATV-ing, and hiking.
The town also takes pride in its cultural events and none are as popular and entertaining as the interPlay Festival that runs from August 5th – 7th each year. InterPlay is a street festival, with plays performed on various stages throughout town. It’s fun for children and adults alike.
More on Fort McMurray? Check out the visitors guide.
Just 160 km southwest of Grande Prairie lies Kakwa Falls. This is one of those spectacular sites that’s worth the effort to reach it. You’ve got to be a pretty skilled outdoorsman, hiker, horseback rider or ATVer to get there, but the surrounding landscape is magnificent, the wildlife abundant and the journey is as inspiring as the destination.
But that’s not all there is to do in the Grande Prairie region. The city of Grande Prairie itself has some great things to see and do. Visit Piper,” an animated life-size Pachyrhinosaur found in Grande Prairie’s Heritage Discovery Centre, or stop by Muskoseepi Park an 1100 acre urban park, with a 20 km trail system, and eighteen amenities that provide entertainment.
All you need to know about Grand Prairie is here in the official visitors guide.
Alberta North is, in many ways, the true north – strong and beautiful. It bestows that feeling of freedom that you might not have felt for a while. Once you’ve visited, you’ll return because once you’ve heard its voice, it keeps calling you back.
For more information on travel to Alberta North visit: http://www.travelalberta.com/en-ab/Destinations/Alberta_North/
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