Two-Day Itinerary – History Doesn’t Hibernate in Southern AB

A Southern Alberta road trip isn’t complete unless the destinations include outdoor adventures, culinary, learning and cultural experiences.

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Our two-day historic tour takes you to some of Southern Alberta’s most spectacular historical sites, but one thing is missing – the summer-time crowds. The centres are yours to explore at a leisurely pace.

Getting To: Head-Smashed-In, Cardston and Frank Slide

Drive from Calgary: It’s about a two-hour drive south on the AB-2 S to Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump on AB-785W, another 20 minutes to Fort MacLeod on AB-2 S and AB-3 E. Head west on AB-3 to Frank for a one-hour drive.

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Drive from Edmonton: It’s about a five-hour drive south on the AB-2 S to Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump on AB-785W, another 20 minutes to Fort MacLeod on AB-2 S and AB-3 E. Head west on AB-3 to Frank for a one-hour drive.

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Drive from Regina: It’s about a six-hour drive west on the Trans-Canada Hwy/SK-1 W, Crowsnest Hwy/AB-3 W to Fort MacLeod. Consider visiting The Fort first, Head Smashed In second and finishing in Frank.

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Morning – Start the day discovering what winter was like without heat and electricity

Buurrrr! It’s cold outside, but inside the award-winning Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump centre the chill is gone and the welcome is warm. Without the crowds of summer, you have the facility to yourself. Take time to talk with Piikani interpreters to learn how their ancestors managed to cope with the hardships of winter on the prairie. Keep your coat on to walk out to the buffalo jump where the hunters would maneuver the herds to their deaths. A practice used by the nomadic tribes for nearly 6,000 years. Learn about the hunt, the kill, the hardships, the joys of life and just exactly what’s behind that name.

Drive to Cardston:

From Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, return to AB-2 S. Follow the highway as it turns east onto SB-3. Drive through Fort McLeod to resume travelling south on AB-2 for 55 minutes to Cardston. The Remington Museum is on the south side of town. A delightfully historic building to stop for lunch is the Cobblestone Manor.

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Afternoon – Giddy-up to the Remington Carriage Museum

This enormous museum pays tribute to the horse and carriage era. More than 270 carriages are on display – the most you’ll see anywhere in the world. See how pioneers travelled across Canada, how royalty is transported in parades in Alberta. Interactive displays include you in chuckwagon races to riding in the original prairie school bus – a school carriage pulled by horses.

Overnight in Pincher Creek

Drive to Pincher Creek:

From the Remington Museum, might we suggest the scenic route that only adds a few minutes to your tour. From the north-end of Cardston, turn west on AB-5. You’ll wander through some wonderful prairie landscapes that butt up against Waterton National Park. (Consider a day trip there too.) The highway bends to the north and turns into AB-6. Follow it into Pincher Creek. If you love Mexican food, a pitstop at Twin Butte General Store is a must before reaching Pincher Creek. Overnight at Heritage Inn. It’s the first hotel as you enter town.

Evening – Enjoy dinner in Pincher Creek

Dinner suggestions include either The Grill in the legendary King Edward Hotel on main street or Luigi’s for excellent pizza near Walmart.

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Morning, day two

Heritage Inn does serve breakfast, but if you’d like a latte to go or a hearty muffin, stop in at Harvest Coffeehouse on main street. Everything on the menu is from scratch and the coffee is sourced from local providers.

Morning adventure side trip

Castle Mountain Resort is an excellent side trip to include in your journey. Stop in to step out for a few hours on snowshoes or cross-country skis. Both can be rented at the retail store. If you are there for lunch – definitely stop in at the T-Bar for a plate of nachos – or is that a platter! The pub grub is fantastic.

Afternoon – Stomp around Frank Slide on snowshoes

Strap on a pair of snowshoes and hike through history at Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. Some trails wind right through the rubble that covers the town, which has been buried for over a century. Learn about the tragedy as you meander around boulders that crashed down from the slopes of Turtle Mountain. Head into the centre to learn more about the slide and the community. If you are hiking in the spring or fall, watch overhead for the migration of Golden Eagles.

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If you go:

Read more about Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, Remington Carriage Museum and Frank Slide.

Hit the road to explore Alberta’s South along Highway 3 this month and be sure to share your discoveries on social media with the hashtag #BucketlistAB and #MySouthernAB – you could be featured on our social media channels.