This might be the only chance I’ll get to celebrate all of the incredibly beautiful places in Canada that will appeal to a Westerners heart — sites of awe-inspiring beauty that show the power and majesty of nature. This is the wildest departure I’ve ever created for our Western Vacation Guide, and in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, I’ve taken it to the max.
I am one of the lucky ones. I have ridden high through the Rockies, swam my horse across tumbling mountain rivers, trailed cattle in the Cypress Hills, driven a four-up across a portion of the British Block and stood high on a ridge on the Alkali Lake Ranch to gaze far, far, down onto the fantastic Frasier breaks. Like all Westerners, everywhere I go I am most impressed with the natural beauty of our land.
Yet there’s more — much, much more to see — and many of these natural beauties are close to home. If you’ve ever wanted to see a Spirit Bear then head to the west coast; take the scenic route through the stunning Cariboo and Chilcotin country — it’s incredible ranching country. See first-hand the ancient pictographs in Writing-On-Stone park in southern Alberta, lay on a beach made of crushed jewels in Saskatchewan or photograph a wild polar bear in Manitoba. This country of ours is stunningly fantastic. Join in the conversation about favourite wild Canadian destinations on our Facebook page — Cowboy Country — and fly our flag with pride!
Pronounced High da’ ‘Gwhy, this remote and rugged archipelago is the ancestral home to the Haida First Nation. This highly protected area features extraordinary natural scenery and cultural treasures. The only way in is by ferry or flight.
KERMODE BEARS, BELLA COOLA
The Kermode bear, also known as the Spirit Bear, is a rare subspecies of the black bear. Bella Coola is the gateway to the Spirit Bear Rainforest on the west coast.
WATERTON NATIONAL PARK
Red Rock Canyon in Waterton National Park features striking red and green layers of coloured minerals in the bedrock layers. Self-guided hikes explain the history of native civilizations and the canyon’s unique formation.
JASPER NATIONAL PARK
In Jasper National Park near the town site of Jasper is the beautiful glacier-fed Maligne Lake and picturesque Spirit Island — one of the most photographed natural sites in Canada.
THE BIG MUDDY, CORONACH
The Big Muddy Badlands are strongly tied to the turn-of-the-century days of horse thieves and outlaws. Tour the caves that hid the Sam Kelly Gang, see ancient rock and boulder effigies and stunning Castle Butte.
GRASSLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Thanks to over a century of grass-protecting ranchers, this region is one of the few remaining natural grasslands in North America harbouring a black-tailed prairie dog colony. Literally millions of tipi rings, encampments and fossils to admire.
WAPUSK NATIONAL PARK
Churchill is called the “Polar Bear Capital of the World” for good reason; Wapusk National Park protects their dens and each spring the mothers emerge with their cubs. Tours are conducted in the safety of tundra buggies.
Sand dunes towering 12 metres high plus kilometres of inviting warm sand beach surround Grand Beach on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, the sixth largest lake in Canada. This beach is considered one of the best in North America.
The Far East
HOPEWELL ROCKS | N.B.
Formed by the constant erosion of 100 billion tons of water moving in and out of the Bay of Fundy twice every 24 hours, the famous “Flowerpot” Rocks is a stunning natural attraction.
NIAGARA FALLS | Ont.
There’s a reason why Niagara Falls has been a tourism draw since the 1850s — the sheer power of the water dropping hundreds of feet is breathtaking.
The Great White North
LAKE LABERGE | Yukon
The marge of Lake LaBerge… One of the most famous sites in the North — both Jack London (Call of the Wild) and Robert Service (The Cremation of Sam McGee — he spelled it LaBarge) waxed poetic about this area. If you want to experience (almost) 24 hours of sunlight north of the 60th parallel in June, this is perhaps the most famous site.
From the amateur to the professional ranks, listed in event date order, here is a list of some of the oldest rodeos in Canada.
60th Stavely Pro Rodeo (CPRA)
May 11–13 | Stavely, Alta.
99th Falkland Stampede (CPRA)
May 20–22 | Falkland, B.C.
101st Hand Hills Stampede (CPRA)
Jun 2–4 | Hand Hills, Alta.
70th Kispiox Valley Rodeo (BCRA)
Jun 3–4 | Kispiox, B.C.
62nd Lea Park Pro Rodeo (CPRA)
Jun 9–11 | Marwayne, Alta.
64th Wainwright Pro Rodeo (CPRA)
Jun 22–25 | Wainwright, Alta.
71st Ponoka Stampede (CPRA)
Jun 27–Jul 3 | Ponoka, Alta.
91st Williams Lake Stampede
Jun 29–Jul 7 | Williams Lake, B.C.
115th Raymond Stampede (CCA)
Jul 1 | Raymond, Alta.
100th Benalto Pro Rodeo (CPRA)
Jul 7–9 | Benalto, Alta.
87th Buck Lake Stampede (FCA)
Jul 7–9 | Buck Lake, Alta.
104th Calgary Stampede (Invitational)
Jul 7–16 | Calgary, Alta.
80th Anahim Lake Stampede (BCRA)
Jul 8–9 | Anahim Lake, B.C.
101st TeePee Creek Stampede (CPRA)
Jul 14–16 | TeePee Creek, Alta.
110th Dogpound Rodeo (FCA)
Jul 19 | Dogpound, Alta.
85th Kennedy Pro Rodeo (CPRA)
Jul 22–23 | Kennedy, Sask.
109th Medicine Hat Stampede (CPRA)
July 26–29 | Medicine Hat, Alta.
60th Rockyford Rodeo (FCA)
Jul 29–31 | Rockyford, Alta.
104th Bruce Stampede (CPRA)
Jul 30 | Bruce, Alta.
95th Dawson Creek Stampede (CPRA)
Aug 9–14 | Dawson Creek, B.C.
91st Jasper Pro Rodeo (CPRA)
Aug 16–19 | Jasper, Alta.
To read our full Western Vacation Travel Guide in the April/May 2017 issue of Canadian Cowboy Country magazine. To subscribe, click here or call Kendra at 1-800-943-7336.