Dinosaur Provincial Park
How do I get to Dinosaur Provincial Park? In the near-desert around the southern Alberta town of Brooks, this campground sits on the banks of the Red Deer River near where rain and erosion reveals dinosaur bones and unique hoodoos.
Why Go: It’s hard to fathom 65 million years until you spot a dinosaur bone emerging from the mud. This is a daily affair along the short interpretive hikes winding through the rugged country surrounding this campsite. Canoeing on the Red Deer River is also a great way to take in the valley and the best way to spot the wildlife: whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope and coyotes. Spot the local hoodoos by foot or water—cartoonish towers of mud capped with a stone.
Highlight: Watch for some of the world’s most northern cactus and rattlesnakes.
Ribbon Lake Campground
How do I get to Ribbon Lake Campground? In Kananaskis Country, an hour west of Calgary. Push on past the first campground to the upper lake.
Why Go: The trail starts off the road to Nakiska Ski Resort and rises gently up a valley. Close to Calgary, with several waterfalls along the way, the trail to the falls is justifiably popular. Most people stop at the main falls, 8.1 kilometres from the trailhead. Suck up some courage and energy and push on. The crowds disappear after billy-goating up the rock wall at the valley’s end using chains and paws. At the top, a hanging valley appears with a lake and campsite surrounded by mountain peaks and alpine meadows. From a base here, day-hike to Buller Pass, Guinn’s Pass, Galatea Creek or scramble to summits looming overhead.
Highlight: Hoofing it to the unnamed summit directly above the lake, looking straight down on your tent far below and then scree-skiing all the way back down.