Coolest Attractions In & Near Calgary
Alberta Dinosaur Provincial Park
Basically anything with the word "dinosaur" in its title get to land itself at the top of any "Best Of" list. But Alberta Dinosaur Provincial Park, located a mere 2 and a half hours drive (worth it!) southeast from Calgary is no Flintstones theme park rip off nor some over hyped display with recreated bones of T-Rex that have become common in most shopping malls. Instead, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and became so because it is one of the richest dinosaur fossil locations in the world. 40 (and counting) species have been unearthed with over 500 (and counting) specimens polished up for international museum exhibitions. The on site Alberta Dinosaur Provincial Park Visitor Centre is home to many of its own exhibits and informs the public about everything related to the attraction.
Fossils, bones and history aside, a trip to Alberta Dinosaur Provincial Park is worth it for the topography alone. These badlands are badass. The park is open year round and while we don't recommend visiting the site during the extreme winter months, the summer is a sight to see. The terrain resembles the Mojave Desert or even the moon for that matter, which is a stark contrast to the image one conjures of Alberta. Light brown rock formations that tinge in red when the sun sets accompanied by the sounds of rattling snakes in the distance (far off distance hopefully) along with the sweat inducing heat during the months of July and August put you in an atmosphere not unlike some Hollywood created post apocalyptic wasteland. You are also welcome to camp on the grounds of the park, which we highly recommend in order to get the full experience. An eerie calm washes over you at night as crickets chirp and the stars above whisper tales of the creatures that roamed this particular part of the earth, millions of years ago.
Alberta Dinosaur Provincial Park Visitor Centre Admission Fees (May 20 to October 31, 2010)
Child (under 7): FREE
Youth (7-17): $2.00
Senior (65+): $2.50
November 1 – mid-May 2011 admission is FREE
Alberta Dinosaur Provincial Park Camping Fees (Group rates also available)
Individual Standard Site: $21
Individual Power Site: $27
If you are looking to avoid the transportation and accommodation hassle, book a tour from Calgary by visiting Hammer Head
88 Canada Olympic Road SW, Calgary
You can emulate the feeling of an Olympic Ski Jumper without the consequence of potential bone breaking by taking the "Zipline At The Park" ride from the official Ski Jump Tower to the base of the hill at Canada Olympic Park. Harnessed in at a vertical drop of over 100 meters and down a path 500 meters long and flying at speeds up to 140km/hr (87 miles!), the zipline is the fastest of its kind in all of North America.
This year round attraction includes transportation to the tower, instruction, and three rides (the first being on the trainer line). Canada Olympic Park Zipline is open daily during the summer months and weekends only in the winter.
Groups of 12+ $40 each
18km (11 miles) north west of Fort Macleod, Alberta
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, that's right, you are reading correctly. We shouldn't have to describe this any further, the name "Head-Smashed-In" should be enough to convince you that this attraction is cool enough to deserve a visit based on moniker merit. But for those of you that need more, let us explain. Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump (sorry, but we fully intend on repeating it as much as possible!) is an hour and a half drive from Calgary and yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site found in the unassuming province of Alberta.
A "buffalo jump" was a method used by indigenous peoples of the plains when hunting buffalo. The animals were driven to the cliffs by warriors on horseback and would break their legs upon the impact induced by falling from the ledge many meters above, at which point they were mercifully killed and taken to a nearby camp for "processing". Not one article of the buffalo went to waste and would feed, clothe and nurture the native peoples through cold winter months. A legend of the Blackfoot tribe would find one of its young hunters attempting to watch the "event" from below, only to be crushed by falling buffalo. Upon finding his corpse (and subsequently crushed skull), the tribe named the site "Head Smashed In". It was a no-brainer (yet another tasteless YAH pun!).
Aside from the majestic natural landscape, the 5 leveled interpretive centre and museum stands out in comparison to standard heritage site buildings. The structure was built naturally into the sandstone cliff side and the information regarding Blackfoot ecology, mythology, lifestyle, technology and archeology is quite captivating, especially in these surroundings. For good measure, throw in traditional drum & dance class, tipi camping and a tour of the historical photographic exhibit of aboriginal peoples from Southern Alberta, Lost Identities - A Journey of Rediscovery. This unique, educational, and scenic attraction is both entertaining and original and is sure to impress even your "seen it all" friends. One more time out loud everyone: "Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump!"
Youth (7-17) $5.00
Under 7 Free
Shopping for Elephant Paintings
1300 Zoo Road NE, Calgary Zoo, Calgary, Alberta
We're not referring to paintings of elephants here, instead, we're talking about actual works of art painted by elephants. The Calgary Zoo is home to three female elephants who have stroked more than one canvas, with Kalama, a long time floppy eared resident, having a particular penchant for painting. Kalama has also been heralded as "Canada's Most Famous Animal" by British Airways Magazine, although we here at YAHglobal.Com feel this title was unjustly doled out as we have a staff member at our Canada office that can give Kalama a run for her money any day. Anyhow, since you won't find too many elephants hanging out in dim lit artsy cafes with a sketchpad resting near their cup of espresso, featuring their work on the walls and on sale to the public, the Calgary Zoo is one of the only places in the world where you can by authentic (and cruelty free) elephant created art. Sales go to support the animal kingdom that is the Calgary Zoo so not only do you have one seriously cool anecdote to hang on the wall, you'll be supporting a worthy cause.
General Admission (16 - 59) $21
Senior (60+) $19
Child (3 - 15) $13
Infant (2 & under) Free
The payoff from an approximate 2 hour drive from Calgary will awaken even the most jaded roadside passenger and an expression of awe will overcome their sleepy grimace as they witness the vision that is the emerald color of Lake Louise. Actually, "emerald" doesn't do it justice. They may have to simply create a Crayola name for the hue elicited by this expansive glacial body of water. Located within Banff National Park (home to a bevy of other Cool Attractions Near Calgary), Lake Louise is a spring, summer, fall and winter marvel enjoyed by people from all over the world with a variety of seasonal activities that appeal to the one and all. Be it photography & sightseeing, hiking, snowboarding & skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, or water sports such as kayaking and canoeing, Lake Louise is an agenda filler to say the least. Pick your favorite activity and time of the year and check out Lake Louise Tours from Calgary for help in making the most out of this natural attraction.