Alberta is the most westerly province in Canada after British Columbia and shares the Canadian Rockies with British Columbia. It’s a rich province due to oil and ranching but still enjoys hosting tourists who come primarily from the USA, with UK visitors at number two.
One obvious incentive for American tourists to travel here is of course the proximity making an easy driving vacation (especially from the northern parts of Montana, Idaho and Washington states), but also the province leans towards English language in contrast to more easterly provinces where locals may prefer to speak French (the third largest group of international visitors to Canada are French).
However, the biggest attraction is unquestionably the staggeringly beautiful rivers, lakes and Rocky Mountains of Alberta’s National Parks, particularly Banff and Jasper.
The two largest cities in Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton, do their bit to attract visitors too with some off-the-wall summer festivals and events such as the Calgary Stampede (mid July) and Edmonton’s Capital EX (late July).
Jasper National Park vs. Banff National Park
Jasper is bigger, less developed, less easy to reach and consequently the less popular of the two parks but still a rugged, beautiful, World Heritage Site with hundreds of miles of outstanding hiking trails and terrific white-water rafting.
Highlights are the huge Sunwapta Falls, an Athabasca Glacier hike, spectacular Athabasca Falls, a Mount Edith Cavell trail (steep but with breathtaking views within 1 hour of parking), a Maligne Canyon Ice Walk (in winter, short or long walks, a tricky and sometimes steep trail so walking poles are useful) and Miette Hot Springs for a good soaking after a hard day.
Jasper is 192 miles (370 kms) from Edmonton, 256 miles (404 kms) from Calgary and 500 miles (800 kms) from Vancouver.
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