My family and I love to hop in the car and enjoy a summer day touring the areas around Calgary. We have visited the mountains and Banff, of course. We have made many visits to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, the Frank Slide and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
Having lived in Calgary for many years, I thought I knew a lot about day-tripping in southern Alberta. However, I am discovering we have been missing a lot by not using the resources that were right under my nose here at the library.
For instance, the last time we went to Drumheller, after we had visited the museum and the big T-Rex, we went further west to Wild Horse Canyon and the teeny, tiny church and then east to the Hoodoos and the suspension bridge. There was still more that we could have done according to Bill Corbett in his book Day Trips from Calgary. For example, we could have gone on to the East Coulee School Museum and had lunch at the Last Chance Saloon in Wayne (4 stars on Yelp), plus we could have learned more about the coal-mining history of the area.
Bill talks about the well-known and the not-so-well known in his book. I wish I had discovered it years ago.
Sometimes it's fun to take the road less travelled. But, even for our often travelled route from Calgary to Banff, Bill has many nuggets of information to share about the history along the highway which can make the experience much more interesting. My kids always watched for the sleeping dragons as we travelled on Highway 1 - long, low hills with rocks on their spines. Bill explains that these are hogbacks and how they were formed. Did you know that there is a walking trail to see some magnificent hoodoos off Tunnel Mountain Drive? You'll never see it if you stick to the main drag going into Banff.
West on One: the Stories Behind the Scenery is a lovely book that talks in more depth about the things you will see as you travel west on the highway from Calgary to Lake Louise. There are wonderful snippets of information about the history, the geology, the wildlife, etc. Did you know where Scott Lake Hill is and that it is the second-highest point on the entire Trans-Canada? Did you know that Heart Mountain was so named for the shape of its peak and that it is a popular easy scramble? These are just a couple of examples of the fascinating stories, facts and pictures in this book.
So, the next time that we are going day-tripping, we will first be checking in these and some of the other great books at the library. Why not check out some of these great resources yourself?
And, don't forget to check out earlier entries in the Good Life blog. Just click on the tag "staycations' or 'Alberta travel'. Happy trails!!