Secluded prairies, towering mountains, crystal clear lakes and more.
From sprawling provincial parks, rich with natural beauty, to hikes and trails that lead to world-famous views, the stunning landscapes and spectacular adventures of this western province are second to none. The only problem? Everyone knows it.
As tourism in the Canadian Rockies rapidly increases year over year, it's becoming harder and harder to catch a moment to yourself at well-travelled and sought-after destinations like Lake Louise and Banff. The good news is Alberta is home to several hidden gems without the crowds that are just waiting to be discovered like secluded prairies, towering mountains and crystal clear lakes.
If you're craving some time to rediscover the joy of nature, check out these seven underrated, crowd-free spots in Alberta this summer.
Address: Icefields Pkwy, Improvement District No. 9, AB
Why You Need To Go: If you're looking for a low-trafficked venture in Alberta, definitely make your way to Mistaya Canyon. This destination is one of the most beautiful locations in Banff National Park, and it's far away from all the tourists. Prepare yourself for the racing waters and colossal canyon walls.
Not many people put this local secret on their bucket list, so you'll get to witness a scenic masterpiece all to yourself.
Crypt Lake Trail
Price: Free entry, $30 per person for the ferry
Address: Waterton Park, AB
Why You Need To Go: Though it's rated one of the top trails in the Canadian Rockies, Crypt Lake Trail still isn't as famous as other Alberta treks. The trailhead is located in Waterton Lakes National Park, which doesn't have nearly as much attention as it should. That means more Alberta beauty to yourself!
Once you make your way over via the ferry service, prepare for a roundtrip hike filled with glistening waters, bold cliffs and beautiful waterfalls. Be sure to pack a snack like Nature Valley Protein Bars for this rather difficult excursion. They're packed with 10 grams of protein per bar so you don't have to worry about running out of fuel.
Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens
Price: From $7 to $11, free entry for kids under 5
Address: 9th Ave. S. and Mayor Magrath Dr. S., Lethbridge, AB
Why You Need To Go: If you're looking for a peaceful pause from all the trekking, take the family on a day trip to the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens. The elegant gates, bridges and shelter were built in Kyoto, Japan, and later rebuilt in the Alberta garden. How cool is that?
The gardens offer different events throughout the year including meditation, yoga and tea ceremonies, and if you really love it, you can purchase an annual pass.
Lake Annette Via Paradise Valley
Address: Moraine Lake Rd., Lake Louise, AB
Why You Need To Go: There's nothing like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, which is precisely what Lake Annette is. Once you hike through Paradise Valley, you'll find yourself surrounded by this majestic glacial lake with clear waters and a stunning mountainous backdrop.
It's not all about the destination; you can count on enjoying the journey there along the scenic trail of Paradise Valley. To help you reach this tranquil hideaway with plenty of energy to soak it in, it's a good idea to throw some Nature Valley Trail Mix bars in your bag. They have a tasty mix of fruits, nuts and even chocolate to keep you fueled up on your way to paradise.
Address: Township Rd. 284, Kneehill County, AB
Why You Need To Go: If you've done your run of snowcapped mountains and glorious glacial lakes (though, can you really get enough?), then try exploring somewhere completely different.
Located in the Alberta Badlands, Horseshoe Canyon is a massive U-shaped canyon that stretches roughly 10 kilometres from end to end. This otherworldly landscape can be explored on foot through the depths of the canyon itself, or admired from above via several lookout points.
This adventure is perfect for the dinosaur fans in the family, as several fossils have been discovered in the area.
Address: Crowsnest Pass, AB
Why You Need To Go: The Turtle Mountain Trail is no walk in the park, which is why you won't find too many people overcrowding this location. Before you embark on this ambitious route, you better fasten your boots and do your stretches!
This uphill hike is dog-friendly, so if your pup is a trooper, you can bring them along for support. Staying energized on this challenging trek is essential, so a convenient snack like Nature Valley's Sweet & Salty granola bars will no doubt come in handy. There are seven flavours to choose from, including Almond, Salted Caramel Chocolate and Toasted Coconut.
Plain Of Six Glaciers Teahouse
Price: No entrance fee, teahouse menu pricing varies
Address: Lake Louise, AB
Why You Need To Go: Most people opt for the hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse when visiting Alberta. If you want to stray from the crowd, take the route to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse instead. There are much fewer people and it's just as beautiful.
The hike to this hidden gem will take you on a journey through incredible views that'll allow you to witness nature and wildlife in all its glory. You might even catch a glimpse of a grizzly bear or two (hopefully from a far distance). At the end of your trek, you'll have the option of enjoying a well-deserved cup of hot tea.
From day trips and family voyages to overnight hikes and couple getaways, there's a spot in Alberta to satisfy every adventurer. Whether you're with your kids or just out with your S/O, each of these destinations will grant you a great experience — minus the crowds.
Before you embark on your trip, remember to pack a bag with everything you need to feel prepared, like sunscreen, water and plenty of on-the-go snacks like Nature Valley bars that are filled with wholesome ingredients you don't have to think twice about.
To learn more about exploring nature's hidden gems, check out Nature Valley's website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
For more stories from the Nature IRL series, check out the Nature Valley hub here.
Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.
Energy ratings for each activity are based on various factors, such as intensity and duration, with one being the least and five being the most. Please note that the ratings come from the Narcity Studio team and are not meant to be taken in an official capacity.