Things to do in Southeast Alberta.
Bow Island Centennial Park
Easy access, large sites, and few people are all draws for Bow Island’s Centennial Park (pictured at top of the page). Found just blocks from the Crowsnest Highway, the campground has two playgrounds, two outdoor cooking areas, a free shower house, beach volleyball, and a well-maintained soccer field.
Most summer Sundays, the park becomes the hub of the community as many families take the opportunity to visit the park to relax. Kids play at the playground while the adults either play a game of soccer or sit in the shade and visit. An added attraction is “Market in the Park” which takes place every Wednesday, from the first week of July until the last week of August.
Bow Island Swimming Pool
The sun sure burns hot during Southern Albertan summers making swimming pools welcome oases for any wary traveller. The Bow Island Swimming Pool is mere blocks from the Crowsnest Highway near BowIsland’s surprising downtown. It is a crystal clear, cool oasis featuring a shallow kiddie pool, hot tub, diving board and climbing wall. The climbing wall on the edge of the pool is a unique addition that will simultaneously exhaust, challenge and occupy everyone as long as your forearms can bear. It’s equally challenging for a 6 or 36 year-old to reach the top so there’s no excuse to give it a pass. You’re not chicken, are you?
Pinto McBean – the world’s largest and most armed pinto bean – Bow Island’s answer to the world’s largest bottle of catsup (in Illinois, for you long-haul road-trippers). Pinto McBean celebrates the town’s role in Southern Alberta’s agriculture industry, which is a leader in beans and lentils. The fact that agriculture even exists here is a feat of human engineering thanks to an impressive canal system that delivers nearly a billion cubic metres of waters to farmers.Indeed, with the effort put forth to grow crops in this dry, sun soaked land, the world’s largest pinto bean is an apt, wonderful mascot and a deserving point of pride. Don’t miss it.
Red Rock Coulee
Red Rock Coulee Natural Area is 324 hectares (800 acres) of badlands, hard sandstone capped hoodoos and large, round, red boulders.
Formed in prehistoric seas as layers of sand calcite and iron oxide collected around a nucleus formed by shells, leaves, or bones. These concretions grew larger as the circulating waters deposited more layers. The reddish colour comes from iron oxide. At up to 2.5 metres (8 feet) in diameter, they are among the largest in the world.
Along with the exposed rocks, you will also find prairie inhabitants such as deer, coyotes, rabbits, rattlesnakes, and nighthawks.
To reach Red Rock Coulee, drive southwest from Medicine Hat on Highway 3. Just before the village of Seven Persons you will turn south on Highway 887—a secondary highway to Manyberries. Continue south on Highway 887 until you reach Red Rock Coulee, which is open year-round.
Etzikom Museum and Historical Windmill Center
Located on the Red Coat Trail, is the Etzikom Museum and the Canadian National Historic Windmill Centre. The Centre features outdoor restored examples of windmills encompassing over 200 years of Canadian wind power (particularly water pumpers). Indoors at the Museum are many hands-on displays in time-period settings, featuring early pioneer life, native artifacts, fossils, petroglyphs, homesteader tools and a historic church.
Open from Victoria Day weekend to Labour Day weekend
Mon to Sat 10am to 5pm and
Sunday noon to 6pm
40 Mile Park
Water in Southern Alberta is a scarce resource, and is depended upon for agricultural livelihood of many. The Saint Mary River Irrigation District diverts nearly one billion cubic metres of water every year to farmers, ranchers and municipalities who need it. While water sustains the livelihood of Southern Alberta’s hardworking people, the canal system that diverts all that water also provides recreation opportunities for everyone. 40 Mile Park is set along a reservoir and has become one of Southern Alberta’s most popular boating, fishing, and RVing spots. The sites are big, the boat launch can handle dozens of vehicles, and the reservoir is big enough for everyone to get on the water.
Sandy Point is the first and only rebuttal needed when the idea of the dull, flat prairie comes up. Yes, Sandy Point is proof that breathtaking landscapes can emerge under your feet. The South Saskatchewan river valley at Sandy Point is the Canadian Badlands at its finest. You approach it after 100 kilometres of rolling Alberta prairie, which is hypnotic and remarkable in its own right. Suddenly ranchers’ fields and virgin prairie drop away as you descend into the valley. Hoodoos stretch East andWest along the river and a bright green trestle bridge comes into view.Along the riverbank is a sleepy little campground, a great place to spend the night. Some even use it as a base or finishing point for canoe trips or fishing, with dozens more miles of badlands hoodoos for your eyes only.
Cavan Lake Campground
Cavan Lake is a quiet campground and recreation area a short drive from Medicine Hat. Ideal for the fisherman or anyone looking to setup camp and relax, you can choose from large sites in well-treed loop surrounding a playground and open park. Or alternatively, take a site with a view of the small prairie lake and watch the sun rise with coffee in hand. Cavan Lake provides firewood, non-potable tap water,30 amp service and a boat launch for those looking to catch their dinner. Cavan Lake is a short twenty minute drive from both MedicineHat and the Cypress Hills. For those looking for peace and quiet at what feels like their own private fishing hole, Cavan Lake is ideal.
Eagle Butte Road
There are ribbons of blacktop flowing across millions of kilometres of terrain around the world. Novels, poems and love songs have been written about life on the road. The road symbolizes freedom, and adventure. If those novels were written in Southern Alberta, Eagle Butte Road would have been the chapter about solitude and reflection. Cyclists tackle this road to reach Little Plume Church, a small Evangelical church atop a bluff overlooking the surrounding prairie and backed by the CypressHills. It’s a slow grind to reach Little Plume, but the reward is a near constant downhill returning home, to Medicine Hat. Eagle Butte. LittlePlume. Medicine Hat. If those don’t sound like names from Zane Grey’s pen, then nothing does. But they’re real, and they’re here for you.
Cypress Hills Cabins
Wake up to the morning sunshine and bird song in secluded settings.Feel like you are the only ones around for miles. Get a taste of adventure in the comfort of a cabin. There are over half a dozenCypress Hills Backcountry and Front Country Cabins situated around the Provincial Park. Some you can drive to, some you have to walk to, some have the most basic of amenities and some are pretty much fully equipped. No need to bring your RV or a tent just your sleeping bags, food, water and a little adventurous spirit. Then explore your surroundings in one of the most unique natural settings in Alberta.
Cypress Hills Mountain Bike Trails
Starting the descent and hitting the drop offs, laying down some crazy lines on the “Last Grizzly”, getting to grips with some cross country adventure through montane forest high above the prairies…this is Mountain Biking in the Cypress Hills. Over 50km of trails with 240 meters of elevation gain from Elkwater you can bet there will be some challenging moments to get the rewards of the downhill trails. If this is not your thing then take an easier trail and explore some of the viewpoints like Horseshoe Canyon which looks out over the vast prairies or down to Montana Sweetgrass hills from “Head of the Mountain”. An early start and late close to the biking season means you can get on the trails typically from May to October.
Cypress Hills Dark Sky Preserve
The night sky tells an ancient story and in a few places you can see the details of that story more clearly than others. Cypress Hills ProvincialPark is a Dark Sky Preserve where this story can be seen loud and clear.Watch as the day fades and the darkness comes alive with the light of night. Look in the Galaxy and search for shooting stars or see if you can recognize constellations or the planets in our own solar system.Maybe you will be treated to the dancing of the Northern Lights…the night sky comes alive in the Cypress Hills. October to May gives the best viewing although for the night owls the summer can still be a treat.
Redcliff Mountain Bike Trails
Interwoven into the hoodoos and rugged, dusty cliffs of the SouthSaskatchewan River are the Redcliff mountain bike trails. In fact, it is these cliffs – many red from oxidization – from which the town of Redcliff gets its name. The trails here may be Southern Alberta’s answer to Moab.They are built and maintained by a group of volunteers and national trail building experts and are free for all to ride. There are multiple access points in Redcliff to the Green, Blue & Black runs. This is badlands mountain biking terrain at its finest. For trail head details see www.trailforks.com.
Redcliff once rivalled Medicine Hat as Western Canada’s manufacturing hub, however between 1913-1915 fires, a cyclone and various other problems, caused many industries to close down. Dominion Glass was one of the surviving operations until it closed its doors in 1989. The factory still dominates Redcliff’s skyline and sits a mere two blocks away from the Redcliff Campground. The campground is nestled in green space between the towns famous Greenhouses where you can buy fresh produce, and the recreation hub of the town including the Baseball Diamonds, Tennis Courts, and Aquatic Centre. Situated only two blocks from downtown, few places can compete with the Redcliff Campground for convenience and price.
Redcliff Riverview Golf Club
Redcliff Riverview Golf Club tracks the South Saskatchewan River and delivers on the promise made by its name. The river views are indeed some of the badlands’ best. Perched on cliffs overlooking the river, even experienced golfers may need another practice swing before sending theirCalloway over a rugged, hoodoo-filled coulee. Although stunning, the view doesn’t necessarily make things easier as the river below your feet can draw the eye towards the horizon. And depending on the time of year, you may be staring down storm clouds looming over a hundred kilometres away. Yes, Canada’s badlands landscape can certainly play tricks on you. Keep your cool, admire the view, take a breath, and swing for the fairway.
Mr Burnside Mountain Bike Trail
Riding the gentle edge of the South Saskatchewan River’s northern slope, Burnside is a short green run that connects to Redcliff’s rugged terrain and series of blue and black runs. Don’t get complacent though, you’re still in the Canadian badlands! Cactus can be found off the well maintained trail and foreshadowing of what’s to come in the way of rock features are fun ways to warm up and are easily to by-pass should the rest of your party not be as keen. It’s a wide, flowy trail that runs in both directions so even if Redcliff isn’t the ultimate destination, there’s plenty of room for a quick there-and-back. Round-trip is about 11 kilometres, making it an easy way to get a quick run in.
Echo Dale Regional Park
Echo Dale Regional Park is one of Medicine Hat’s most popular family destinations. Situated in the South Saskatchewan River valley with badlands views, two reservoirs provide swimming or water sport activities, including stand-up paddle board, kayak or paddleboat rentals.The swimming is served by a cafeteria offering ice cream, snacks and even burgers and fries. Echo Dale Farm is a well-preserved early pioneer settlement complete with a wooden house, barn, blacksmith shop, and former entry to an early-era coal mine. Together, the grounds provide a glimpse into early pioneer life on the prairies. Easily accessible by foot or bike from Gas City Campground or by car via the well-travelled Holsom Road, Echo Dale Regional Park is a family favourite.
Gas City Campground
Perched high above the South Saskatchewan River, just minutes by foot from one of the best views of Medicine Hat’s river valley is Gas City Campground. It is also the starting point for a path that tracks the bench above the South SaskatchewanRiver to Echo Dale Regional Park, an easy walk for any family looking to spend a day together. The unique campground name comes from Medicine Hat’s long tradition of referring to itself as the Gas City, owing to early twentieth century discovery of natural gas that literally fuelled the city’s early economic boom.English author Rudyard Kipling famously wrote that Medicine Hat had ‘all hell for a basement,’ when discussing the city’s enormous potential. The fully treed,97-site, full-service campground is only minutes from the Trans-Canada Highway
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Prairie Memories Museum, Irvine
35 kilometers / 22 miles
A must-see attraction for anyone interested in rural history, this museum portrays various aspects of pioneer life. They have many artifacts and buildings including an old schoolhouse, church, and lumber store. Be sure to check out Irvine’s 20 Milepost Days held annually on September long weekend. This event features all kinds of events, including a parade, rodeo, gymkhana, bench show, and much more.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
158 kilometers / 98 miles
Discover and experience a unique landscape of haunting formations and rich fossil resources at Dinosaur Provincial Park. You will be amazed when the gently rolling prairie grasslands suddenly drop off, plunging the visitor into a remarkable world of hoodoos, pinnacles, coulees, and buttes.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site situated along the Red Deer River just 90 minutes west of Medicine Hat, the Park is the largest area of badlands in Canada and one of the richest sites in the world for late Cretaceous fossils.
Take the Trans-Canada Highway west to Brooks, then go north on Highway 873, east on Highway 544 to PR 130 at Patricia. Follow the big blue Provincial Park signs along the way.
To book tours and learn more
For campground reservations: