Looking off into the distance, the peaks of the Canadian Rockies can be seen, drive a couple hours north east and visit Drumheller, a town sunken down into the earth that just happens to have the world’s largest finding of dinosaur skeletons and a huge museum displaying them, but the main purpose of this destination was to attend the Calgary Stampede, the largest outdoor event on earth.
It is exhilarating to travel somewhere you have never been before. To experience the beauty of nature and the excitement of a world-renown event. To visit areas famous for their natural beauty. That is what I did this past July when I flew from Detroit, Michigan to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for a 10-day vacation. To me travel and vacations are an opportunity to partake in the areas surroundings, take photographs, and experience the culture of the area.
Calgary is surrounded by a vast array of attractions, and I was only able to experience a small amount. I arrived at night and did not have the opportunity to view the Canadian Rockies from my plane, but when I awoke the next morning they could be seen in the distance from where I was staying. About 1-1/2 hours drive west from Calgary is Banff National Park. Canada’s First National Park comprises 2,564 square miles and is located in the Canadian Rockies. Banff is the home of Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, glacier lakes with a beautiful, distinctive emerald/turquoise color water. The breathtaking scenery makes this park makes it well worth the time to visit.
A day trip to Drumheller, northeast of Calgary, is a “must see”. Located in the Canadian Badlands, this unique town is built in an area of land that at some point in time sunk down into the earth that now houses the badlands and an entire town. This is where you will find the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur skeletons and fossils. I spent several hours inside the museum, taking a break to lunch at the on-sight cafeteria.
The plan was to visit the Royal Tyyrell Museum in the morning and spend the afternoon driving the Canadian Badlands taking photos. The Canadian Badlands covers a 35,000 square mile region where dinosaur bones were discovered in the late 1800s. Nowhere on Earth has there ever been found the quantity and quality of dinosaur remains as have been discovered in the Canadian Badlands. It is speculated that for some reason this area of land sank down into the earth, creating a drastic drop in elevation and that stampeding dinosaurs fell over the age and died. The result is one of the world’s largest dinosaur fossil regions. Since the late 1800’s more than 1,000 complete skeletons of dinosaurs have been found and digs continue to this day. The Royal Tyrrell Museum contains over 130,000 skeletons and/or fossils from this area.
In addition to dinosaur finds, the Badlands is also where gangsters would run and hideout in the “wild west” era. The terrain of the area was dangerous due to its sunken area, allowing for an easy ambush and law enforcement would not pursue gangsters once they entered the area. The history of the badlands combined with the gorgeous rock formations makes the area a “must see” on a trip to the region. Unfortunately a rainstorm prevented the planned exploration of the badlands from taking place.
The main purpose of my trip to Calgary was the Fantasy RV Tours 7-Day Calgary Stampede event. The tour group arranged RV parking in a stadium parking lot and participants took a short walk to the train stop for a ride into the town of Calgary and/or to the Calgary Stampede Grounds. In addition to the stampede, the tour included a visit to Heritage Park and Gasoline Alley, attending the Calgary Stampede Parade, breakfast in the rotating restaurant at Calgary Tower, and a visit to the Glenbow Museum in downtown Calgary.
Heritage Park Historical Village includes Gasoline Alley, a “must see” car museum. I spent so much time in Gasoline Alley that my time was very limited on viewing the rest of this living history museum. A train ride around the park gave me a nice overview, and because of the way stops are scheduled you circle the park twice before you can disembark at the location you boarded. The majority of visitors get off and on to visit various attractions.
Our tour included breakfast at the revolving restaurant in the Calgary Tower. The observation deck of the tower provides a 360° view of the city and surrounding area. One area has a glass floor you can walk out on for a true view down. I found the glass bottom very disconcerting, and had to use the rail to walk out onto it. Across from the tower is the Glenbow Museum, which is a combination art and history museum. I spent quite a bit of time viewing the historical exhibits and taking photographs.
The Calgary Parade is a kick-off to the Calgary Stampede. This parade displays the heart and sole of Calgary and the Stampede, with horses, carriages, bands, and more. Many follow the parade down to the stampede grounds for the opening of the event. The Calgary Stampede grounds is a huge venue, including barns, a midway, an Indian Village, and the main highlight, the stampede grandstand. You definitely want to take in both an afternoon rodeo show and an evening grandstand show, which features chuck wagon races, performances, and fireworks. You will not be disappointed!
My trip to Calgary went way too fast and before I knew it my ten days had ended and I was at the airport and on my way home. I hope that someday I will get back to the area and have a chance to visit more thoroughly some of the areas I only touched on lightly.