If you haven’t been to Grande Cache, you haven’t really experienced the Alberta Rockies wilderness and the phenomenal activities and gorgeous scenery that goes along with it. Located next to Jasper National Park, the town got its name from a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trader who cached a large supply of fur in the area during one of the winters between 1818 and 1821, and original traders routes are still travelled today by adventurers who want to experience hiking, biking or horseback riding in the area. Along with historical aspects of the town, you can enjoy some good food, a nice beach and tons of activities, not to mention the stunning scenery in every direction.
Wilmore Wilderness Park
This 4,600 square kilometre wilderness area lies adjacent to Jasper National Park but is lesser known and, therefore, less visited. This means that you are truly travelling into the wilderness, to a place where there are no roads, no services, and no development – one of the last true wilderness areas in the country. Home to grizzlies, wolves, caribou and other wildlife, travel into the zone means careful planning and knowledge of backcountry hiking and camping. You can enjoy the area on horseback, hiking or mountain biking on your own or with a local outfitter. The trails consist of historical routes used by the outfitters and fur trappers dating back to the early 1800s. Check the website for all the route options available and access points.
Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area
While some adventurers use this recreation area as a jumping-off point for horseback riding or hiking going into the wilderness park, this area is worthwhile as a destination all on its own. You can camp here, but the main draw is the short hike to the lookout points that will give you an incredible view of the incredible confluence of the Smoky River and the Sulphur River.
Passport to the Peaks Program
This is an interesting program to encourage hikers to summit 21 peaks in the area. This is a passport to this unspoiled piece of wilderness that provides trekkers with amazing opportunities to explore and experience the nature and beauty that rivals the National Parks in the Rockies. Each mountain is rated as either Bronze, Silver or Gold depending upon the level of difficulty. On each summit is a Cairn Box with an embossing Summit Stamp mounted inside, particular to that mountain and that stamp will be your proof of reaching the summit. Pick up the Passport for a small fee at the Information Center, which provides you with a full color day sheet for each mountain with maps and descriptions.
9701 AB-40, Grande Cache
Considering the terrain surrounding Grande Cache, it is no surprise that there is an incredible number of rapids available to raft here. Those with little no experience who want to ride a Class I/II can enjoy Smoky River, while those who want a bit more adventure can raft on Class II/III on Sulphur or Muskeg River; Class III/IV on the Kakwa River; or Class IV/V on Sheep Creek. Hook up with the local operator for half day, day or multi-day rafting tours.
11113 Hoppe Ave, Grande Cache
Grande Cache Labyrinth Park
This labyrinth is actually a walking meditation park. Take a journey into the center and into yourself. Labyrinth walking is an ancient practice used by many different faiths for spiritual centering, contemplation, and prayer. Entering the serpentine path of a labyrinth, you walk slowly while quieting your mind. Surrounded by beautiful views of mountains, this is a great place to just be in silence and appreciate the moment.
10406 97 Ave, Grande Cache
Crack of Doom
This unique split rock is a huge erratic left over from the glacial period. A part of the famous “Death Race” route, you don’t have to complete the race to be able to get your own chance to pass through this huge rock. Instead, this is only about a 5-minute walk from the commercial staging area. There is a trail leading from the first corral.
The Canadian Death Race
Since the year 2000, there has been an incredible race run through the Rockies here in Grande Cache, with runners travelling along three mountain summits, one major river crossing and 17,000 feet of elevation change. Eventers run an incredible 125 kilometers over two days. If you are not into the running, you can still enjoy all the events and festivities that happen at the same time, and watch the runners come across the finish line.
Grande Cache Lake Beach
Just 5 kilometer outside of town you will find the pretty Grande Cache Lake and the recreation area there. With a nice stretch of beach, a playground, picnic areas, a boat launch and dock, this is a perfect place to spend a sunny summer day. The lake is a prime location for any water sport that you want to participate in. Fishing is popular here as well, so you may be able to catch your lunch or dinner and enjoy cooking it on one of the handy fire pits.
Twin Falls Hike
A slightly easier hike than some of the others in the area, this may be good for families. Keep in mind though that while it is a shorter, easier hike than many, you still want to use caution around the falls themselves as the terrain can be unstable. The journey is worth it though, when you get there and view the clear waters flowing down this small set of falls. At just over 3-kilometers round trip, you should allow for up to an hour to complete the trip.
Muskeg Falls Hike
This is probably the most beautiful waterfall in the region, so if you are up for a hike, then this is definitely one you should put on your to do list. This is not a long trail with a less then 2-kilometer distance to the end and back, but has an elevation gain of 262 feet, so a bit tougher than Twin Falls. Use caution when approaching the waterfall as there are unstable and slippery edges. Details
Eaton Falls Hike
This hike takes you into the Wilderness Park and is considered a moderate level hike that is 6-kilometers round trip. This tougher walk will take you over some challenging hills and into gullies, however the trail is well marked and easy to follow and a unique marker at a junction will point you right towards the falls. Take the time to soak in the stunning scenery as you make your way to this lovely waterfall. Take a snack and enjoy the coolness of the spray and the quiet of the area. Start from the Sulphur Gate Recreation Area. Details
Grande Cache Golf and Country Club
This 9-hole course is probably one of the prettiest in the province, with lovely views of the mountains from every hole. The rolling fairways, large greens and staggered tee boxes allow golfers to customize their experience. This Par 70 (35/35) has a total 6001 yards, a driving range, practice green, clubhouse with a licenced dining room, along with cart and club rentals.
Shand Ave E & Memorial Dr, Grande Cache
Eat at the High Country Steak & Ale Restaurant
With their sign stating that they are famous for their prime rib, and offering six sizes of this delicious, uniquely spiced, aged 28 days, slow roasted AAA black angus beef, it would be hard to disagree. Since black angus beef falls within the top 8% of beef in the country, you know you will enjoy every bite. Of course, you can also find fantastic steak, ribs and more. There is something for everyone to savour here.
1701 Pine Plaza #1001, Grande Cache
Try Some Comfort Camping
If you are not a camping type of person, or don’t have your own equipment or RV, but still would like to spend a night or two experiencing some comfort in the wilderness, try out the comfort camping options available at the U Bar Ranch. The wall tents are equipped with comfortable beds and rugs, along with a self-catered kitchen containing a fridge, propane stove, food storage and picnic tables. A wood stove and Edison lighting contribute to the ambiance. There is also a common lounging area equipped with a TV, a library of books and magazines, cards and crib boards.
7574 HWY 40, Grande Cache
Historical Drive Tour
Starting from the Tourist Center, you can pick up a handy brochure that will take you along the nine stops on this historic and natural sites route. Your first interesting place will be the Atco Electric Plant, then along to the Sulphur Gates, the townsite of Grande Cache, Victor Lake airstrip, the site of an Aboriginal camp along the lake, a log church at Susa Creek, a tiny graveyard at Muskeg, the Pierre Grey Trading Post, and finally the site of the Muskeg trading post.
9701 AB-40, Grande Cache
It is an understatement to say that the fly fishing in the area is excellent. This zone is well known province wide to be one of the best places to throw your line in a river or lake. Try Pierre Grey’s Lakes, a string of five lakes chock full of Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout and Bull Trout. In Grande Cache Lake you will find Brook and Rainbow Trout biting. There are plenty of other places to fish as well, in a list too long to include here! Please don’t forget that Bull Trout are catch and release only, and you require a valid fishing license any time you head out with a rod and reel.
Kayaking / Canoeing
The stunning lakes and mountains provide a perfect scene for heading out in your kayak or canoe. The same lakes that are so abundant with fish draw those who have no interest in casting a line. Glide across the surface while revelling in the beautiful ambience. Listen to the bird calls, watch for wildlife, dip your oars in and power yourself along. Grande Cache Lake, Victor Lake, Peavine Lake, and Pierre Grey’s Lakes are desirable locations for calmer canoeing and kayaking. For those more adventurous souls, you may want to try kayaking on the same white-water rivers listed above. Make sure to check in with the Visitor’s Center before heading out on any river to get any high or low water warnings. Details
Take an ATV Ride
There are other ways to explore the region if you are not into hiking, biking or horseback riding. One of these is driving or riding an ATV along set out routes. These fun rides will take you into the wilderness to have an adventure that doesn’t require much effort. One of the best things here is that the town allows you to use your recreational vehicle in town, as long as you are on your way to one of the trails. Keep in mind that no motorized vehicles are permitted in Willmore Wilderness Park, Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreational Area or any of the provincial campgrounds in the area. There are eight great trails to enjoy here if you have your own ATV, or you can rent or take a tour with the local operator. Details
For those who would like to experience the Wilderness Park but are not into hiking or trekking, a horseback ride is a perfect way to have a guided exploration of the area. From one day trail rides to multiday adventures, the outfitters in the area can provide everything you need. Beginners to advanced riders will find the journeys sufficiently adventurous as the horses’ clip clop along the historic paths that the fur traders and indigenous peoples took through these mountains so many years ago. Sit back in your saddle and soak in the history and scenic views.
Eat at Aurora Sushi
You may think this is an odd choice – to eat at a Japanese restaurant while in a town on the edge of Canadian wilderness, but this restaurant has such authentic food and décor that you will forget where you are for some time. They are known for having a good selection of items for those who don’t want sushi, as well as consistently good and fast service.
10005 100 St, Grande Cache
Flat rides, uphill rides, downhill rides, challenging rides, whatever route a rider is looking for can be found here. The area around Grande Cache is definitely a mecca for mountain bikers. There are more than 50 mapped out routes for bikers to choose from. Rides of up to 21 kilometers in length and 360 meters of descent can be enjoyed here. The splendor of the mountains, lakes, rivers, and gorges help create an incredible ambience for this network of biking trails. Details
Have Some Winter Fun
Since this is such a fantastic area for outdoor activities, it makes sense that the winter months will also provide opportunities to enjoy the snow and ice. Try some ice fishing (don’t forget your license), snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or snowmobiling. Ice climbing is also a popular winter activity here with two different routes and areas to explore. Details
Grande Cache Tourism and Interpretive Centre
Way more than just the average tourism center, if you are in the area you will definitely want to make a stop here to discover their fantastic exhibits and displays that showcase the history of the area including ice age artifacts, dinosaur tracks, Aboriginal heritage and fur trading, full animal mounts, tree and geological descriptions and local industry. Along with these indoor exhibits, there is an outdoor interpretive trail and a replica cache along with other historic buildings. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop and art gallery.
9701 AB-40, Grande Cache