Alberta is one of Canada’s most scenic provinces, especially its southwestern quarter, where the majestic Rocky Mountains create one of the world’s most dramatic backdrops. There’s no better way to enjoy the view than from the freedom of your motorcycle, and if you’re looking for new routes to explore, southern Alberta has plenty to choose from. The two must-sees are the Historic Cowboy Trail and Crowsnest Pass, but there are also lots of hidden gems to discover if you’re looking to get off the beaten path.
The Historic Cowboy Trail
This famous route runs along Highway 22, and is one of the region’s most popular destinations for travellers looking for some authentic western flavour. For motorcyclists, the stretch of the Historic Cowboy Trail that runs from Priddis in the north to Highway 3 in the south is likely to be of greatest interest. This portion of the Historic Cowboy Trail runs parallel to the Rocky Mountains and the Porcupine Hills the entire way, winding through some of the province’s prettiest small towns.
Listed from north to south, some points of interest along this motorcycle route include:
- Bragg Creek. This historic town has earned a reputation as a hotspot for the arts, featuring a number of shops and studios where you can learn more about contemporary Alberta culture.
- Millarville. If you reach Millarville on a Saturday morning, you’ll be in time to visit the town’s Farmer’s Market, which draws visitors from miles around. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays during the summertime.
- Black Diamond. Home to a surprisingly large concentration of unique shops and boutiques, Black Diamond is a popular draw for couples and has plenty of spots to relax and unwind if you need a break from riding.
- Longview. Home of the Longview Hotel, this quaint town is a great place to stop if you want some good food. You should also gas up here if you need to, as Longview is the last town before you reach Highway 3.
- Bar U Historic Site. The Bar U Historic Site is home to an old-style western ranch, which is still in operation, as well as a national park site. Continuing south, you’ll come to Chain Lakes Provincial Park, which gives way to the Porcupine Hills and hilly, winding roads with incredible scenery.
This stretch of the Historic Cowboy Trail runs about 160 kilometres (100 miles).
When you reach the end of the Historic Cowboy Trail, you’ll be at Highway 3, and if you head west, you’ll find yourself on Crowsnest Pass, which runs all the way to Cranbrook, British Columbia. Steeped in western history, the Crowsnest Pass offers more than just a beautiful view. Some of the highlights of this route include:
- Leitch Colleries. This historic site features a well-preserved coal mine from Alberta’s early days. A Provincial Historic Site, Leitch Colleries is definitely worth a stop if you’re interested in an authentic glimpse into the region’s rich history.
- Frank Slide. With a hilltop interpretive centre overlooking the slide, this site commemorates the dramatic 1903 rock slide that buried Frank, a mining town which was then a part of the North-West Territories.
Continuing west, you’ll come to the towns of Bellevue, Coleman, and Blairmore, each of which has its own well-preserved relics of the region’s mining heritage. When you cross the British Columbia border, you’ll pass through Sparwood, home of the world’s largest truck, then Fernie, Jaffrey, and finally Cranbrook. Should your bike need some attention at the end of your journey, the Harley Davidson of the Kootenays shop in Cranbrook is one of the best in all of Canada.
The Crowsnest Pass ride is approximately 185 kilometres (115 miles) long.
More Great Rides!
Here are some other fantastic motorcycle routes just waiting to be discovered:
- Calgary-Kananaskis. This 390-kilometre (240-mile) route winds through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, running along Highways 8, 549, 22, and the Trans-Canada Highway.
- Lake Louise-Jasper. A 236-kilometre (150-mile) stretch of Highway 93 links Yoho National Park and Jasper.
- Calgary-Waterton. This 300-kilometre (180-mile) ride runs along Highway 22 from Calgary down to the U.S. border, passing through Alberta’s rolling lowlands along the way.
Safety Courses Can Qualify You for Lower Motorcycle Insurance Rates
Taking a motorcycle safety course is a good idea regardless of your experience level. It never hurts to brush up on the principles of safe riding, and you might be able to get a reduced motorcycle insurance rate to boot. In Alberta, motorcycle safety courses are available through the Canadian Traffic Education Centre, the Alberta Safety Council, Alberta Motorcycle Training and Edmonton Motorcycle Toy Run, among others.
As insurance brokers we are able to provide a number of options for your coverage. We offer motorcycle insurance plans to riders of all skill levels, and we’ll be happy to discuss your specific needs in detail. Get a free, no-obligation motorcycle insurance quote online, or call us at 1-888-330-9729.