Thursday, 13 August 2015

ITS AUGUST ALREADY?! Weekend Road Trips that are Perfect for August

Word Count: 153

Alberta Road Trips for U of A Students

I have a dilemma. Upon hours of research related to my latest Packing Hacks article, I think I’ve caught it. I should’ve been more cautious because I knew that this was the peak season for the disease, but alas, it is too late. I have been diagnosed with a serious case of the “travel bug”, and I hate to break it to you, but with the commencement of this last month of summer, along with the fantastic weather, you’re probably infected too. 

Now before you start obsessively Google image searching pictures of the Bahamas or spend precious dollars on world map shower curtains, I want to tell you that I have found the cure. That is, a last minute trip to make the most of this final month of freedom. Students of the U of A, it is time to get to know what makes this province the perfect place for an adventure! 

1) Johnston Canyon

Distance from Edmonton: 4.5 hours

Activities: Sightseeing, Camping, Hiking, Cabins 

Suggested For: Fine Arts students seeking inspiration for their next photo album, art project, or set design.  

Johnston Canyon
Image courtesy of Marko Stavric on Flickr

This is basically a hike through numerous waterfalls and waterways. A word of advice is to leave as early as possible when going on hikes, as it gets very crowded later on in the day, especially on weekends. Tours, restaurants, and accommodation are available, as well as pet-friendly cabins so that furry family members can take part in the weekend fun too!

2) Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park, Elnora, Alberta

Distance from Edmonton: 3 hours

Activities: Camping, Hiking

Suggested For: Biology students and nature lovers who want to witness the spectacle of gold eye fish coming to the surface of the Red Deer River to feast on white mayflies. (Use a flashlight on the water at dusk for the best experience).

Image courtesy of Wild Rose Dogs

If you are afraid of getting caught in the rain, this is the spot for you. Located 16 km east of Trochu, Alberta, this provincial park will not disappoint. With it’s arid and desert-like landscape, Dry Island Buffalo Jump Park is not only the place for serenity-seekers, but also geography enthusiasts who crave an awesomely different landscape. There are many different campgrounds to choose from in the area, the more secluded ones offering greater options when it comes to hiking trails. And don’t worry; the biggest animal you could possibly encounter is a coyote (lets just hope its not an aggressive one). 

3) Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Distance from Edmonton: 4.5 hours

Activities: Sightseeing

Suggested For: the stressed out, workaholic students who want to escape cell service, telephone service, and amazing Wi-Fi connection, because trust me, there is none. 

Image courtesy of Thomas Zasso on Flickr

Nothing is better than the roaring sound of a waterfall. At Sunwapta, you are given the chance to get up close and personal with a couple of mighty, cascading falls along the Sunwapta River. Tours, shopping, restaurants, and accommodation are also available, which makes the location perfect for a weekend trip.

4) Lake Agnes Teahouse, Lake Louise, Alberta

Distance from Edmonton: 4.5 hours

Activities: Hiking, Sightseeing, and Eating

Suggested For: Students who are driven not by their hearts or minds, but by their stomachs. 

Image courtesy of 

This hike will definitely be a memorable one for those who do it. It involves a 1-2 hour (one-way) trek along a winding path surrounded by the classic mountain evergreens. This hike is very exciting (especially for those whose excitement is dictated by the proximity of food ) because at the end of the hike, a teahouse awaits! However, there is a catch, and that is that the entire hike is uphill. I mean hello people these ARE the mountains. But don’t worry. The Teahouse is located right next to the beautiful Lake Agnes, so having lunch with this gorgeous view at the end of an hour-long uphill hike will feel incredibly rewarding. 

5) Hoodoos, Drumheller Alberta

Distance from Edmonton: 4 hours

Activities: Sightseeing, Hiking

Suggested For: History, Archaeology, Palaeontology, and Mineralogy buffs who will literally see the past imbedded in the sandstone pillars we call Hoodoos.  

Image courtesy of Flickr

These sandstone pillars located in the heart of the Canadian Badlands take millions of years to form and stand 5-7 meters tall. They are definitely well worth a visit. The Hoodoos Trail is your best bet when it comes to seeing these bad boys up close. 

Fun Fact: In the Blackfoot and Cree traditions, the Hoodoos are believed to be petrified giants who come alive at night to hurl rocks at intruders.

6) Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

 Distance from Edmonton: 5.5 hours

Activities: Geocaching, Hiking, Golf, Boat and Paddleboard rentals, Sightseeing, Camping

Suggested For: Physical Education students looking for activities to help gain muscle and improve fitness.

Image courtesy of

What beats the reflection of mountains in pristine blue lakes? Nothing. Quiet and serene, Waterton is the perfect place to experience the beauty of nature in all of it’s glory. Countless activities, lodging, and dining are also all available, making this location perfect for a weekend getaway. 

7) Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Distance from Edmonton: 5 hours

Activities: Hiking

Suggested For: Nature enthusiasts and those with an interest in geography and the physical features of the Earth.

Image courtesy of

With its hidden location, this trail will be one of the most beautiful and memorable hikes you ever do, and definitely my personal favourite. The duration of the hike is around 5 hours, being about 12km in total. The area is very secluded, which only adds to it’s beauty. The first half of the hike is almost entirely uphill, and is moderately challenging for the inexperienced hiker. The second half levels out to a wide valley up in the mountains. Small brooks run across the ground in random places but these are easy to cross when you channel you inner stepping-stones skills. The running water is the only audible sound as you hike (unless you or your fellow hikers are heavy breathers ), and if you’re lucky (and not too loud), you might get to see a herd of bighorn sheep grazing in the valley. I 100% recommend this trail. However, keep in mind that bears live in the mountains too! I myself am utterly terrified of bears but still cannot wait to go back and do this trail again. How’s that for putting things into perspective?

All this being said, pack your things, charge your camera, and make the most of what is left of your summer!

Editor's Note: A previous version of this post listed Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park as a national park... and although it is a national treasure, it's designated as a provincial park.


Niabi - YouAlberta

Niabi is a third year student just starting a BA in English with a Spanish Minor. She’s a relentless optimist, hazardously curious, and tends to laugh a lot (her friends would say that she has a juvenile sense of humour). When not spending money she doesn’t have on clothes, or jamming out to Reggaeton, you can find her in a movie theatre, reading a book that involves sword fighting and dragons. Alternatively, you might find her serving herself “eyes-are-to-big-for-your-stomach” helpings. 



  1. We're fortunate to have so many great parks in our province! BTW, Dry Island Buffalo Jump is a Provincial Park, not national.

    1. We certainly are fortunate to have so many great parks :) Also, thank you for sharing! We've made the correction to the text above.


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