Alberta

Alberta is often referred to as the ‘Texas of the North’ due to the western culture found in its grasslands and prairies – Made world-famous by the annual Calgary Stampede.

However, the active traveler will likely associate the province with the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the myriad of outdoor adventures that await (hiking/backpacking, mountaineering, glacier trekking, canoeing/kayaking, skiing/snowboarding, and so much more).

But did you know that Alberta is also home to five of Canada’s 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites? This includes the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho, Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, and Hamber) as well as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park bordering the USA in the south, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (one of the most extensive and best preserved hunting sites of North America), Dinosaur Provincial Park in the Canadian Badlands (containing one of the richest dinosaur finds in the world), and Wood Buffalo National Park in the far north – Home to the world’s largest inland delta and the biggest herd of free-roaming bison on the planet.

Where wildlife viewing is concerned, Alberta’s big ‘all-stars’ are elk, moose, bear, bison, cougar, and wolf – Some of which do not require a lot of effort to spot! Accessible and rewarding wildlife viewing is possible throughout the province. Close encounters with elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are not uncommon in towns and along mountain highways.

Dig a little deeper and you may even spot the king of the Rockies, the grizzly. Alberta’s variety of natural areas support hundreds of species of wildlife, many of which are endangered or protected.

 

The Rocky Mountains have unpredictable weather, which can change rapidly. As is the norm in highland environments, the climate changes with increasing altitude. In general, the Rockies have mild summers, cold winters, and a lot of precipitation – The result of air moving east from the Pacific and getting trapped and released in the mountains. The Rockies' eastern slopes are in a rain shadow and Alberta's skies, east of the Rockies, are predominantly clear with the rest of the province enjoying some of the sunniest skies in the country year-round.

Spring comes to the lowlands in April and reaches the high country by June. It brings wildflowers and gushing rivers, which make it the ideal time for rafting. Short sleeves/pants are possible, but it is advisable to have sweaters, trousers and a light coat or rainjacket on hand as well.

Summer days are temperate and long, with the sun setting late and rising early. July is the warmest month, with daytime temperatures around 22°C/72°F in the mountains and up to 30°C/86°F on the prairies. Recommended clothing is shorts, short-sleeved shirts and light dresses in daytime, sweaters and trousers in the evenings, and shell jackets in the mountains areas.

Fall comes in September and October, bringing beautiful autumn colours, clear skies, and cooler temperatures. Fall weather conditions are fabulous for active, outdoor adventures as well as star-gazing. Light to medium clothing with shell jacket in early fall/ medium to heavy clothing in late fall (snow is possible near the end of October/beginning of November).

Winter brings cold, snowy weather that can quickly change to warmer Chinook winds and Alberta sunshine. Winter temperatures vary, but January is usually the coldest month with temperatures rarely rising above -8°C. Snow lasts from November to March, and the ski/snowboard season is in full swing.

We recommend visiting Environment Canada’s website for information specific to the region in which you are travelling.