©Praveen P.N/Getty Images

Southern Alberta

Alberta's national parks and cities grab most of the headlines, leaving the expansive south largely forgotten. This is true cowboy land, where the ghosts of herders like John Ware and the Sundance Kid are woven through the history of endless ranch land. It's often interrupted by deep, dramatic canyons carved in the last ice age, as well as towering hoodoos – funky, Dr Seuss–like rock sculptures. History abounds at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, and Writing-on-Stone and Dinosaur Provincial Parks, Unesco World Heritage areas that preserve the region's fascinating past.

Picture-perfect landscapes are plentiful here. The dusty badlands around Drumheller open up into wide open prairies that stretch east all the way to the Cyprus Hills of western Saskatchewan. To the west lies Waterton Lakes National Park, with some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rockies – utterly different from Banff and Jasper yet still under the radar of most visitors.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Southern Alberta.