Alberta is the second westernmost of the 10 provinces in Canada. (only British Columbia is farther west) It includes parts of the Canadian Rockies and is known for its oil and natural gas fields and cattle farming.
Alberta has a lot to offer visitors. It is a surprisingly diverse province in many ways, from the beauty of the Rockies to the serene flatness of prairie to the wilderness of the northern forests. The two largest cities, Calgary and Edmonton offer the amenties that most cities in North America have, and also have some unique attractions of their own.
Alberta was formed as a province in 1905. Its capital is Edmonton , located roughly in the middle of the province, while most business headquarters are located to the south in Calgary . Most of the population of Alberta lives along the “Highway 2 Corridor” between Edmonton and Calgary , although Lethbridge to the south, Grande Prairie to the northwest, and Fort McMurray to the northeast are also major centres.
Edmonton International Airport and Calgary International Airport both have flights with Air Canada and other international airlines to and from various cities across North America and Europe. There’s also a flight from Calgary to Delhi, India, flying only a stone’s throw away from the North Pole. Both airports act as collection points, Calgary for the prairie provinces, and Edmonton for regions in the Canadian North like Grande Prairie and Yellowknife.
Greyhound Canada offers service between almost all centres, large and small. Be aware that Greyhound does the so-called “milk runs” stopping at almost every location, usually to drop off or pickup passengers and cargo. There are other bus lines offering service between major centres, such as Red Arrow between Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Jasper and Banff
VIA Rail is the only passenger rail service into Alberta, and it goes into Edmonton from Vancouver, British Columbia and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. There is no passenger rail service into Calgary.
Tourism in Alberta
Alberta has been a tourist destination from the early days of the 20th Century, with attractions including outdoor locales for skiing, hiking and camping, shopping locales such as West Edmonton Mall, outdoor festivals, professional athletic events, international sporting competitions such as the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games, as well as more eclectic attractions.
According to Alberta Economic Development, Edmonton and Calgary both host over four million visitors annually. Banff, Jasper and the Rocky Mountains are visited by about three million people per year.
Alberta’s Rocky Mountains include well-known tourist destinations Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The two mountain parks are connected by the scenic Icefields Parkway . Banff is located 128km west of Calgary on Highway 1 and Jasper is located 366km west of Edmonton on Yellowhead Highway.
About 1.2 million people pass through the gates of Calgary’s world-famous Stampede, a celebration of Canada’s own Wild West and the cattle ranching industry. About 800,000 people enjoy Edmonton’s Capital Ex (formerly Klondike Days). Edmonton was the gateway to the only all-Canadian route to the Yukon gold fields, and the only route which did not require gold-seekers to travel the exhausting and dangerous Chilkoot Pass.
Located in East-Central Alberta is Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions, a popular tourist attraction operated out of Stettler that draws visitors from around the world. It boasts one of the few operable steam trains in the world, offering trips through the rolling prairie scenery. Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions caters to 10’s of thousands of visitors every year.
Alberta is an important destination for tourists who love to ski and hike; Alberta boasts several world-class ski resorts. Hunters and fishermen from around the world are able to take home impressive trophies and tall tales from their experiences in Alberta’s wilderness.
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