Spirit Island in Maligne Lake
Alberta is a truly special summer holiday destination, with this sublime province in western Canada boasting some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, exciting activities, and wonderfully unique attractions.
One of the best ways to experience Alberta in the summer is via a fly drive Canada holiday, as it allows you to hop in a car after touching down for a self-drive tour, exploring the province at your own leisure. From picture-perfect lakes and mountains to waterfalls and canyons, Alberta’s outdoor locations provide access to an incredible array of summer activities that include hiking, biking, wildlife watching, water sports and more.
To inspire your own tour of Alberta, read on below and discover some of the best summer attractions and the activities available to add to your itinerary.
Lake Louise and Fairmont Chateau Hotel, Banff National Park, Alberta
Location: Banff National Park
Activities: Hiking, kayaking, horse riding, canoeing, photography, watching a sunrise
No visit to Alberta would be quite complete without a stop at the majestic Lake Louise. This glacier-fed lake surrounded by a ring of towering peaks is one of Canada’s most photographed locations. While many journey to this important spot in Banff National Park just for the photo opportunities alone, a trip to Lake Louise in the summer offers so much more.
Lake Louise is well known for its kayaking and canoeing, giving visitors the chance to enjoy the turquoise waters of the lake up close. There are some fantastic hiking trails at Lake Louise too, with routes ranging from 45 minutes to several hours and varying levels of difficulty. That’s not all, however, as Lake Louise is also a great spot for horse riding or for something a little lower key, how about getting there bright and early for a glorious sunrise? A perfect way to experience this special location.
Mollie, from the travel blog, We Are Global Travellers, has enjoyed the delights of Alberta herself and has this glowing recommendation of Lake Louise: “Perhaps one of the most iconic photography spots in Canada, and a destination on every Canada bucket list, Lake Louise in Alberta is simply stunning. Whether you want to hike around the lake or canoe on the lake, make sure you visit in your lifetime. The turquoise hue takes even the most seasoned traveller’s breath away.”
Kananaskis Trail, Alberta (Highway 40), aka Bighorn Highway in Kananaskis Country
Location: Kananaskis Country
Activities: Drive the valley, hiking, wildlife watching, golf, biking, explore Canmore
Just west of Calgary, you will find the wonderful Kananaskis, situated in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Bordering the town of Canmore and Banff National Park, Kananaskis is a top destination in its own right, being a vast playground of wonderful outdoor activities.
This mountain sanctuary is a great place to retreat to in the summer, with breathtaking scenery all around. In Kananaskis, you can look forward to driving through the picturesque Kananaskis Trail Highway, hiking along scenic paths, and spotting wildlife like moose, mountain sheep, and bears.
There are plenty of biking opportunities in the area, and a visit to nearby Canmore is yet another activity to add to your to-do list. There is even some history to discover in the area, as in between Kananaskis Valley and Canmore you can enjoy a 4km hike to the Cold War era Heart Creek Bunker, taking you up 212m in elevation into the side of a mountain, just off the main Highway 1.
READ ALSO: How to plan a road trip in Canada
Mt Norquay Via Ferrata
Mt Norquay, Banff National Park
Location: Banff National Park
Looking for a truly exhilarating summer activity during your trip to Alberta? Make sure you drive on over to Banff and try your hand at ascending Mt Norquay Via Ferrata. Italian for “Iron Road”, Via Ferrata is a breathtaking assisted climbing experience on four different routes of the glorious Mt Norquay.
With cables and ladders built into the side of the mountain, you will be clipped in securely the whole way, led by certified guides. No experience is necessary as you will be well instructed and looked after, allowing you to enjoy the panoramic views and the amazing thrill of travelling between 2,000m and 2,450m in elevation.
For those who are new to climbing, the ‘Explorer’ tour is the ideal option, taking about 2.5 hours and covering 1km. This will allow visitors to try the Via Ferrata experience and take in some awesome Banff views without having to commit to the longer climbs.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Activities: Sightseeing, driving
During your summer exploration of Alberta, do yourself a favour and enjoy the majestic driving route known as Icefield Parkway. A must for a driving holiday in Canada, the famous Icefield Parkway is more than simply the route between Lake Louise and Jasper, it’s an attraction and activity in its own right, thanks to the glorious views it provides travellers with on both sides of the vehicle.
Stretching for 144 miles between mountains, glaciers, and lakes, Icefield Parkway is like a living highlights reel of Canada’s astonishing natural beauty. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way, as black bears and big horn sheep are just some of the animals that can be seen.
There are also plenty of stops to enjoy along the route, such as the Athabasca Glacier and Peyto Lake, giving you the opportunity to get out and stretch your legs. So, sit back, relax, and take in the majesty that is this epic Alberta activity – a perfect addition to any summer itinerary.
Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park Alberta
Location: Jasper National Park
Activities: Rafting, sightseeing, relaxing, strolling
Situated in Jasper National Park, the Athabasca Falls is a premier Alberta location to consider visiting during your summer exploration. This incredible waterfall pours into the Athabasca River and while it may only be 23 metres high, the water flow is ferocious – providing visitors with a mesmerising sight during their time at the falls. The mountainous peaks in the background add further to the grandeur of the location and all of it can be enjoyed through a mix of fun activities.
Athabasca Falls is a great spot to enjoy some white-water rafting, a truly exciting proposition as you surge across these thundering waters, taking you out from the high canyon walls and out into the Athabasca River Valley. This is also a great location to relax amid Canada’s endlessly impressive scenery, with multiple viewpoints available, including a footbridge above the water. There are trails to enjoy a light stroll around – which is definitely recommended for a complete experience of Athabasca Falls.
Devin, from the travel blog deventuretime, paints a picture of what visitors can expect as they approach the falls: “As soon as you exit your car at the parking lot, you will hear the sound of the roaring waterfall plunging off the cliff. You will be immediately greeted with the well-maintained paved trail that will lead you to the beautiful Athabasca Falls. The path makes for an easy walk, great for the whole family. It is quite flat, but there are some slopes along the way.”
Maligne Canyon, Alberta
Location: Jasper National Park
Activities: Hiking, views, visiting Maligne Lake
Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park is a slot canyon eroded out of the Palliser Formation. Over 50 metres deep, exploring the canyon is a very popular activity, offering waterfalls, an underground stream and beautiful wildlife. The lovely walking trails at Maligne Canyon would make a great addition to your Alberta itinerary, providing stunning views, fossils, and bridges. The trails are also family-friendly so all can enjoy the canyon and its hidden treasures.
Maligne Canyon is also perfectly paired with a trip to nearby Maligne Lake – another famous Alberta attraction. The lake is famed for its azure waters, glaciers and the endlessly photographed Spirit Island. A boat trip to Spirit Island is a great activity to opt for and when combined with your time at Maligne Canyon – this leg of your Alberta exploration will be impossible to forget.
Taylor, an outdoor enthusiast from the blog, The Holistic Backpacker, has been to Maligne Canyon and shared her thoughts about the location: “Maligne Canyon along with Maligne Lake are two of the most popular attractions in Jasper National Park. Maligne Canyon is a force of nature and is truly something you have to see with your own eyes.” Taylor also adds: “Along the way, you’ll come across gushing rapids, large/swirly rock faces that have been moulded by the force of water, and beautiful subalpine vegetation”
READ ALSO: Classic hikes in the Canadian Rockies
Places to visit in Alberta in the summer
– Lake Louise
– Kananaskis Valley
– Mt Norquay Via Ferrata
– Icefield Parkway
– Athabasca Falls
– Maligne Canyon
As you can see, Alberta is a truly phenomenal destination to visit during the summer, boasting an array of awesome locations and activities to enjoy. These are just a handful of the many options available on a Canada holiday, and by speaking to one of our Canada travel experts, you can plan the perfect itinerary for you.
For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog.