Travel Guide Canada: Alberta
Alberta is one of Canada's provinces, located between British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and the USA. Learn more in the following blog.
Alberta is one of Canada's provinces, located between British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and the USA. Its capital is Edmonton; the largest city is Calgary. The landscape is dominated by the prairie, which stretches east to Saskatchewan. The foothills of the Rocky Mountains dominate the western border of the province.
The three climatic regions of Alberta – alpine, forest and prairie – are home to a multitude of different animal species. With a bit of luck, travellers can spot bears, wolves, moose, bobcats, pumas and an abundance of other wildlife that are at home in the picturesque natural landscapes.
In southwestern Canada between the provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan
approx. 662,000 km²
Best travel time
May to September
Travel enthusiasts will find a broad spectrum: The natural paradise of Alberta, offers, besides the Rocky Mountains and the Canadian prairie, especially beautiful nature parks such as Jasper National Park or Banff National Park as well as a wide range of cultural offerings such as the Olympic Park in Calgary
Location, geography and climate
The Province of Alberta borders the Province of British Columbia to the west, the Province of Saskatchewan to the east, the State of Montana to the south and the Northwest Territories to the north. As the westernmost of Canada's three Prairie States, Alberta borders the vast grassy plains of the prairie to the east. The Rocky Mountains, on the other hand, offer an heavy contrast to the eastern part of the province with enormous rock massifs and huge mountain ranges. With an area of almost 662,000 km², Alberta is about as large as the French territory.
Alberta is especially known for its countless lakes and waterways. Approximately 19,530 km² of the province are water surface. The largest lake in Alberta is Lake Athabasca which is located on the northeastern border of the province of Saskatchewan.
The Rocky Mountains cover a large part of western Alberta. Eleven national parks are located in Alberta in the area of the Rocky Mountains. Two of these national parks, Jasper National Park and Banff National Park, are World Heritage Sites. The highest elevation in Alberta is Mount Columbia at almost 3750 m.
Alberta is especially characterised by a four-season climate. The continental location of the province contributes to a large climatic difference between summer and winter. While summer temperatures are mild at about 17°C, winter is icy with average temperatures below -4°C. The annual precipitation is about 1100 mm which is relatively high considering the 310 days of sunshine per year. An annual snowfall of 9 m is not unusual in the winter months.
Flora and fauna
Due to the great contrast between the western Rocky Mountains and the eastern grassy plains of the prairie, Alberta's biodiversity is quite manifold.
In the expanses of the prairie, it is especially grasses and smaller shrubs that cover the ground. The flat landscape is home to the American bison for which the nutritious grasses of the wide plains are an important food source. However, the buffalo population was drastically reduced with the arrival of white settlers which led to an interim threat to the animals. For some years now, however, the population of large cattle has been increasing again.
The vast forest landscapes of western Alberta are home to a variety of large predators such as the grizzly bear and the black bear. The largest herbivorous animal is the moose. With a stick size of up to 2 meters, these peaceful forest dwellers can be very impressive. In addition, large Wapiti deer also live in the mixed forests of the high plateaus of Alberta. Probably the most difficult to observe predators in Alberta are wolves. They often live far away from any human influence.
Multicultural districts meet traditional saloons and western bars. The largest city in Alberta is also known as the "Nashville of the North" due to its "country" lifestyle. A special landmark of the city is the Calgary Tower. This is a television tower with a revolving glass platform from which one has a particularly good view of the city skyline. A restaurant is also located in the tower. The 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary were decisive for the construction of the Calgary Olympic Park. Here, tourists have the possibility to visit the big winter sports facilities as the ski jumps or the bobsleigh run. It is even possible to get into the bobsleigh yourself and rush down the track. The immigrant neighborhoods like Chinatown in the heart of the city offer a great opportunity to experience the multicultural flair of the city.
Jasper National Park
The Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains with an area of almost 10,900 km². Together with Banff National Park, Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park, Jasper National Park has been a World Heritage Site since 1984. Especially the numerous large mammal species attract many visitors to the park every year. Many of the animals living there do not avoid human activities. For example, some of them are grizzlies that break open cars to get to snacks stored in the car, or giant Wapiti deer that eat the flowers from the front gardens in the suburbs of Jasper.
Banff National Park
Covering an area of around 6640 km², Canada’s oldest national park is a real natural jewel. It is located within the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Especially the strongly represented bird world is almost unique. Over 250 different bird species and some migratory birds inhabit the region of the picturesque national park. The Moraine Lake is a special highlight of the park. You can either explore it from the outside, along the many hiking trails, or drive around the mountains by car. A canoe trip is also highly recommended, as you can observe bears, moose and wolves moving around in protected areas of the park.
Take part in our animal welfare project in Canada and help take care of formerly farmed horses in Alberta