By Shari Fenn, Content Contributor
With the hectic pace of life, a one-day road trip is a great way to refresh and recharge your batteries.
The Calgary Region is full of scenic drives, with breathtaking views of the world-famous Rocky Mountains and rolling prairies.
Taking a road trip combines the best of getting away and unwinding with the comfort of being home in just a few short hours.
Here are three amazing stretches of highway to discover throughout Calgary Region:
1) Quaint Irricana to the rugged badlands
Next time you’re going to Drumheller, travel via Irricana.
It’s worth stopping at this amazing and unique town.
Most locals in the Calgary Region pass right by Irricana on their way to the badlands, but it is one of the Region’s hidden gems.
Irricana is only 57 km NE of Calgary en route to the Drumheller badlands. It is accessible from two main highways – Hwy #9 or Hwy #567.
The town has become known for over twenty-two hand painted murals that are found throughout the town. Tourists now regularly stop to see the locally painted murals.
You will also want to see how the town has also painted their hydrants. Each hydrant is fun and children love them!!
After a rest stop in Irricana, take Hwy #9 (74 km) on a scenic drive to the Drumheller badlands. The stretch between Irricana and Drumheller features picturesque farmland.
When arriving at Drumheller, be sure to stop in at the visitor information centre to see what is open. If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll see the world’s largest dinosaur at the centre.
After a full day in Drumheller, Google maps will help you find the best way to get you home quickly.
2) Journey through time on historic Cowboy Trail
One of Canada’s most famous scenic highways, Cowboy Trail, goes through the Calgary Region.
The Trail is popular with tourists in the summer due to the spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and the rolling foothills. It is nestled in the heart of Alberta’s ranch country.
The Cowboy Trail starts in northern Alberta, but for this post, we will begin the journey in Cochrane and end in Longview (approx. 105 km).
- Your first stop is the town of Cochrane. Stroll the main street with its old-fashioned storefronts, shops and cafés.
- Head south on Hwy 22 for about 30 minutes to Bragg Creek. This town is home to some excellent bakeries, fine restaurants, and craft shops.
- Continue south 48 km to the town of Turner Valley, a place where rocks are water-skipped and dandelions are picked for Mom. Their big backyards, community spirit and outdoor lifestyle inspire creative talent and nurture life better lived. While there, you may want to stop in for a taste of Alberta’s first craft distillery, the Eau Claire Distillery.
- Just five minutes further down the road is the artisan town of Black Diamond, which boasts incredible art galleries and art shops as well as one-of-a-kind shops for clothing, jewellery and collectables.
- Continue south 17 km to Longview to wrap up your picturesque journey through the foothills. When going home from Longview, head east to get to Highway #2.
You’ll want to keep coming back to these three places.
3) Unforgettable view between Canmore and Cochrane
With most of the tourists gone, it’s an excellent time to try this slower, but very picturesque drive.
The distance between Canmore and Cochrane on the 1A is approx. 75 km.
You will pass through some unattractive industrial areas, but most of Route 1A is an incredibly scenic drive, winding through the Bow Valley.
When you’re headed away from the Rocky Mountains, the scenery is a lot more beautiful in the rear-view mirror.
For the mountain views, you are better to take this route on the way to Canmore.
On the 1A you will find an old church in Morleyville. The church was the site of southern Alberta’s first settlement. It was once home to more than 200 people, and now it’s preserved as a provincial historic site.
The church isn’t open to visitors (except on special occasions), but everyone is free to walk around the mission’s grounds.
You will also want to stop at Ghost Lake, a popular year-round recreation lake. Watch for signs for the spot to turn off the highway, and explore the Ghost Lake Reservoir.
Ghost Lake has been part of the Bow River since the Ghost Dam was constructed in 1929.
Hwy 1 goes right through Cochrane so be sure to stop to stroll the main street with Mackays famous old-fashioned ice-cream store, shops and cafés.
There are so many other spectacular stretches of highway in the Calgary Region. If you have your own personal favorite scenic drive, let us know.