Alberta

Alberta does lakes and mountains like Rome does cathedrals and chapels, but without the penance. For proof head west to Jasper and Banff, two of the world’s oldest national parks; despite their wild and rugged terrain, they remain untrammeled and easily accessible. They're majestic, breathtaking, awesome. No one should leave without first laying eyes on Peyto Lake and the Columbia Icefield, nor before traveling east to the fossil-encrusted badlands around Drumheller, south to the Crypt Lake trail in Waterton Lakes National Park, and north to spot bison in the vast, empty northern parklands.

In the center of the province, the wheat blows and the cattle and pronghorn roam; here you'll find historic ranches, sacred native sights and the eerie, martian landscape of the hoodoos. Calgary has become unexpectedly cool, with top museums and cocktail bars, while Edmonton’s fringe theater festival is the world’s second largest.

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