20+ Free Must Visit Places in Alberta

Here is a list of 21 Free Must Visit Places in Alberta: These free places will take you through Alberta’s history from prehistoric times to modern days, while giving you an in-depth appreciation of Alberta’s awe-inspiring landscapes.  Few sites may not be visually appealing, but important nevertheless, since it is part of Alberta’s Human History.




Canadian National Parks have free admission during 2017. The five national parks in Alberta (Waterton, Banff, Jasper, Elk Island, Wood Buffalo) are not listed here.

1.Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

Situated 44 kilometres east of the community of Milk River,  and southeast of Lethbridge is Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park / Áísínai’pi National Historic Site.  The park contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs and pictographs on the great plains of North America. The park is of spiritual importance to the First Nations people. The carvings are estimated to be atleast 5000 years old. Get a map from the visitor centre and hike the 2.2 km Hoodoo Interpretive Trail. You may also spot Prairie rattlesnakes in addition to mule deers and marmots during your hikes.  Details

Where:

NW 36 TW1 range 13, Milk River

When:

Open Year Round. Visitor Centre closed in winter. Call for appointment.

2. Red Rock Coulee

See red spherical sandstone formation, formed in prehistoric seas as layers of sand, calcite and iron oxide collected around a nucleus formed by shells, leaves or bones. These big boulder shaped concretions measure up to 2.5 metres across and are believed to be among largest in the world.  You may also spot white-tailed jack rabbits, mule deer, pronghorn, western rattlesnakes during your hikes. Details

red-rock-coulee

Photo Credit: Evelyn Berg

Where:

60 km south of the city of Medicine Hat on Highway 887, just outside the hamlet of Seven Persons.

When:

Open Year Round.

3. Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site




During early 20th century Leitch Colleries was the only, completely Canadian owned and operated coal mine in Crowsnest Pass.  This was also one of the largest and most ambitious mines in the early history of the Crowsnest Pass. During the time of its existence Leitch Collieries built impressive structures including a large sandstone power house,which supplied electricity to the surface operations and the town of Passburg. Due to various reasons, the company could only be in operation for less than 10 years.

Take a guided tour, hike through the mine ruins or read the interpretive panels, and get to know mining operations and how Leitch Collieries went under while all the neighbouring operations flourished till Alberta’s oil boom took over. Admission is by donation.  Details

Photo Credit: Darren Kirby

Photo Credit: Darren Kirby

Where:

Located off Highway #3 in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.

When:

May 15 and Labour Day.

4. Brooks Aqueduct

Brooks Aqueduct was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway’s irrigation division to irrigate a section of southeastern Alberta. When completed in 1914, the 3.2 km aqueduct was the largest concrete structure of its kind in the world. While here, also visit Bassano Dam, which was built by CPR between 1910 and 1914.  Details

inside the aquaduct
Where:

located 8 km southeast of the town of Brooks, off Trans-Canada Highway 1.

When:

May 15 and Labour Day. Interpretive guides offer site tours and public programs throughout the summer, visitor season.

The historic Bassano Dam

5. Dinosaur Provincial Park

Showcasing the Badlands of Canada, Dinosaur Provincial Park contains some of World’s richest deposits of dinosaur bones! More than 35 species of dinosaurs have been unearthed from this UNESCO World Heritage Site near Brooks.

Though the park admission is free, some of the best trails are only allowed on ticketed guided bus tours. This should be booked much in advance as it is very popular.

There are five trails that can be hiked free of charge. Details

See here for weekend getaway trip itinerary from Calgary.


Where:

Located 48 km northeast of Brooks.

When:

Open Year Round. Programs from Victoria Day to Labour Day.

6. Hoodoos Trail

Hike this short trail near Drumheller that depicts some of the the finest examples of Hoodoos in Alberta.  Details

Free Attractions Alberta

Photo Credit: Madeleine Deaton

Where:

 Located at the Willow Creek Coulee – 15 minutes East of Drumheller.

When:

Year Round.

7. Downtown Calgary Walk

Go on a free self guided walking tour of Downtown Calgary. Explore Calgary’s famous pedestrian Avenue and continue onto Bow River Pathway to Peace Bridge.  Details

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta

Where:

Downtown Calgary

When:

Year Round.

8. Calgary Stampede

During select days in the 10-day cow boy extravaganza, billed the greatest outdoor show on Earth, you can get in free, provided you are at the gates before 09:00 AM.  You also get free breakfast. Once you are inside,  there are plenty of events that can be enjoyed free of charge including the famous RCMP Musical Ride.   Details

stampede

Photo Credit: Canadian Tourism Commission

Where:

Stampede Park,  Calgary

When:

July 7 – 16, 2017 – 10 days in early July. Free Days TBA

9. Big Rock

Hike to the site of this big glacial erratic, about the size of a 2 storied house, as you ponder over the Blackfoot story of its origin.   Details

big-rock-okotoks

Photo Credit: Jeff Wallace

Where:

Located off Highway #7, 10 kilometres southwest of Okotoks.

When:

Year Round.

10. Highwood Pass

Drive Highwood Pass, the highest paved pass in Canada. Ptarmigan Cirque (5.6 km) trail that start at Highwood Meadows picnic area is a hikers delight providing wildlife viewing (Big Horn Sheep, mountain goats, Hoary Marmots) opportunity along with a panoramic view of the Rockies. Highwood Meadows Trail that starts near the summit is a wheel-chair accessible trail – boardwalk through a fragile alpine meadow. Details

Copyright: Craig Shelley

Copyright: Craig Shelley

Where:

Highwood Pass, Kananaskis Country

When:

June 16 to November 30

11. Rawson Lake

Hike the 3.5 km trail to Rawson Lake, a picturesque subalpine Lake in Kananaskis Country.    Details

Photo Credit: Lyle Beaudoin

Photo Credit: Lyle Beaudoin

Where:

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country

When:

Year round, best in late spring to fall.

12. Grassi Lakes

Enjoy panoramic views of  Rocky Mountains and town of Canmore as you hike to this turquoise tinged lakes. Details

#grassilakes #canada2016

A photo posted by 💙Rebecca Hallman💙 (@becky0586) on

Where:

Spray Lakes Road, Canmore

When:

May until November.

13. Sunshine Meadows

sunshine-meadows

Photo Credit: Daniel Robles




This activity is for people who DO NOT mind hiking 90 minutes to enjoy the view. If not, you can buy tickets and ride the Standish quad chairlift (Sunshine Village Ski Lift) to over 2,400 m – the highest Gondola / Chairlift access sightseeing elevation in the Banff and Lake Louise area. As you are travelling on TransCanada Highway to reach Sunshine, Banff Admission Fees do not apply (as far as we know).

Hike your own or take guided hikes along one of the many trails with rating varying from easy to difficult, above the tree line, soaking in the extraordinary scenery presented by the Rockies with alpine lakes, meadows carpeted with wild flowers and viewing wildlife like grizzlies, elks in the distance.

 Details

Where:

Sunshine Village Ski Resort, Banff National Park

When:

From Late June  ~ Late September

14. Sylvan Lake

sylvan-lake

Visit Alberta’s summer destination! It is a popular recreational lake for all the seasons. Sylvan Lake Provincial Park & Jarvis Bay Provincial Park are located on the shores of the Lake. Enjoy a day of swimming, fishing, building sand castles with kids or sun bath at the Lake.  Details

Where:

Town of Sylvan Lake – Central Alberta

When:

Year Round.

15. Abraham Lake

abraham-lake

Photo Credit: Jeff Wallace

Alberta’s largest man-made lake! Carpeting the side of David Thompson Highway, this ethereal blue coloured lake caused by glacial silt deposit against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains is a sight to behold. Abraham Lake borders Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, which is home to abundant wildlife and many species of rare plants.  Details

Where:

West on Highway 11 from Rocky Mountain House National Historic site for ~110 km gets you to Abraham Lake

When:

Year Round. – The Lake is a great visit any time of the year. But during winter, methane gas released by plants on the lakebed creates “frozen bubbles” under the ice – creating a unique winter scenery.

16. Miquelon Lake Provincial Park

Explore Miquelon Lake Provincial Park’s  trail system through  knob and kettle terrain, that connects intriguing landscape remnant of the last ice age. You can see beaver ponds on your hike. It is also a birders paradise.  Details

Where:

Camrose.   ~ 40 km East of Leduc

When:

Year Round.

17. Heritage Trail  – Edmonton Walking Tour

alberta-leg

Explore the history of Edmonton as you go on a self guided walking tour through Downtown Edmonton, Old Strathcona, finally reaching Alberta Legislature grounds. At the Legislature Building – go on a guided tour of the building and see the monuments, and art works that depicts important occasions in Alberta’s history. Also tour the 23 hectares of parkland and the historical monuments.   Details

Where:

Downtown Edmonton

When:

Year Round.

18. West Edmonton Mall

West Edmonton Mall

Wander around this Leviathan of a mall! Its stores, services, restaurants, and attractions combine to form the most comprehensive retail and entertainment complex on Earth. The mall has an annual visitation of 30.9 million, which is comparable to a 50,000-60,000-seat stadium being filled more than once each day, every day of the year.  Details

Where:

West Edmonton Mall is located in the west part of the city of Edmonton, very close to Anthony Henday Drive and Highway 16 heading out towards Jasper.

When:

Year Round, Open Daily.

19. Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park

Explore boreal forests supporting a variety of wildlife, long sandy beaches, and sand dunes at The Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.  Site of the annual Songbird Festival, the Park is a birding destination teeming with of migrant songbirds and an an import nesting habitat for western grebe.   Details

Where:




Widewater. Northern Alberta.

When:

Year Round.

20. Hard Luck Canyon

HardLuck Canyon features 20 metre sandstone cliffs lining a small stream running into the McLeod River. Enjoy the sight of HardLuck Falls tumbling down the cliffs during high run-off season. Go down the stairs running down to the bottom of the canyon, hike the trails and enjoy a picnic in the woods. Details

Where:

20 minutes SW of Whitecourt

When:

Year Round, Best in summer.

21. William A. Switzer Provincial Park

☀ Sun R ▲ Y S pt.2

A photo posted by Nathaniel Strohschein (@nathaniel_stroh) on

Hike along the shores of Jarvis creek that links five lakes in this park nestled in the Rockies foothills. The park is heavily forested with lots of wildlife.   Details

Where:

20 kilometres north of Hinton on Highway 40.

When:

Year Round.

Did we miss any note-worthy free attractions. Please leave a comment and let us know.

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