Postcard from Alta Range, Alberta

Calgarian Sarah Deveau escapes the urban jungle to show her kids Alberta's original Western ways.

Postcard from Alta Range, Alberta

Postcard from Alta Range

Postcard from Alta Range, Alberta

As an adopted Albertan, I thought I knew the landscape well. I was married in the shadows of the Canadian Rockies, and I’ve swam in chilly northern lakes with my angler husband, Keith. I’ve taken my girls Kate, 8, Jacqueline, 5, and Nicole, 4, camping in the windy south and in the dry and unforgiving badlands to the east. But when Keith decided we should drive part of the historic Cowboy Trail and take the kids for a weekend of horseback riding, fishing and rafting, I discovered a hidden gem – Alberta’s Aspen parkland ecoregion. We explored the region by horse, raft, foot and minivan to the excited soundtrack of “Mommy, look!” and “Daddy, what is that?” from our girls. Turns out they weren’t quite as city mouse as we’d feared.

A version of this article appeared in our September 2013 issue with the headline, "The cowboy trail", p. 30.

Postcard from Alta Range, AlbertaCity kid Kate riding like a pro.

What to do...

The Red Deer River Ranch, on the northern end of the trail, is an ideal home base for families. This working cattle farm features beautifully appointed family-friendly cabins, a nearby river for early-morning fishing, a hot tub under the stars and close proximity to several local horseback riding and rafting companies. It’s also a great place to try and spot the wild horses that frequent the nearby hills. And for exceptional hiking and biking trails, head due south!

Postcard from Alta Range, AlbertaPhoto: Sarah Deveau


The best... snuggly souvenir

Handmade sheepskin slippers and moccasins from PaSu sheep farm are a must-buy.

Postcard from Alta Range, AlbertaPhoto: iStockphoto

The best... cowboy cuisine

Take a horse-drawn buggy ride across the Prairie grasslands (complete with a BBQ “Buggy Brunch”) with the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch.

Postcard from Alta Range, AlbertaPhoto: iStockphoto

The best... four-legged friends

Explore the foothills on horseback, guided by long-time rancher Merle Fox of Sunset Guiding and Outfitting. Kids four and up are welcome.

Postcard from Alta Range, AlbertaPhoto: iStockphoto


The best... adrenaline rush

Kids as young as six can ride the Upper Red Deer River rapids on a Mukwah rafting tour.

Postcard from Alta Range, AlbertaPhoto: Ryan Thompson

More family travel ideas...

Looking for another great travel destination for your family?

Try the Rockie Mountains. >

Postcard from Alta Range, AlbertaPhoto courtesy of The Rocky Mountineer

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