Central Alberta is part of Alberta, located between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. The eastern portion is largely agricultural, while the western portion is part of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Central Alberta stretches across the middle of Alberta from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the prairies in the east.
Ranching country with forested areas. The Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22) that runs north-south is considered one of Alberta's most scenic highways.
|Central Corridor |
The area along the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (also known as Highway 2 or "the QE2") between Calgary and Edmonton, which contains many towns and smaller cities and is anchored by the city of Red Deer.
|East Central Alberta |
Largely agricultural, this less-populated area with small farming villages dotting the east-west highways.
- 1 Red Deer — largest city in Central Alberta with over 100,000 inhabitants, midway between Calgary and Edmonton
- 2 Camrose — a college town with Norwegian heritage and about 18,000 people
- 3 Edson — main town on the Yellowhead Highway between Edmonton and Jasper with around 8,400 people.
- 4 Lloydminster — agricultural city of 31,000 that straddles the border with Saskatchewan
- 5 Rocky Mountain House — this is the eastern gateway to David Thompson Country and also the site of a reconstructed fur trading post
- 6 Sundre — small, emerging resort town of 2,700 located in the Rocky Mountain foothills
- 7 Sylvan Lake — a lakeside resort town with a provincial park, a marina, a boardwalk lined with shops, and around 15,000 inhabitants
- 8 Vegreville — agricultural town of 5,700, home to the world's largest pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg) and jumping off point to Kalyna Country
- 9 Wetaskiwin — population of 13,000 inhabitants is home to a major museum of transportation and industry, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.
Central Alberta is made up of small towns and rural landscapes stretching from prairie plateaus in the east to foothills in the west. It is primarily agricultural in the east and forested in the west as it transitions to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Central Alberta includes:
- Foothills: Traditional ranching country and with forested area increasing to the north. Many of the roads through this area were placed on older established foot or horse paths, such as the historic Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22), one of Alberta's most scenic roads.
- Parkland: Alberta's boreal and aspen parkland run in north-south strips across the province. Parkland is mainly rolling green hills, pastures, and large sections of mixed forest. A fertile area consists of agricultural areas with small groves of trees. The low coulees and high plateaus have been reforested by area ranchers and farmers.
- Prairies: Rural farms, small and medium towns lay along or near Alberta's busiest highway corridor between the cities of Calgary (south) and Edmonton (north) The prairie towns grew up in the late 1800s around stations of the Calgary-Edmonton Railway. The first residents came as homesteaders and opened businesses around the stations to cash in on travellers passing through. The railway still runs through the centre of each town and is surrounded entirely by ranches and farms, raising flowers, grains, buffalo, elk, sheep, horses, cattle, and chickens.
International flights are available to the Calgary and Edmonton airports, which are on the north and south ends of their respective cities. Red Deer has a regional airport with connections to Calgary.
Central Alberta is not served by passenger rail: the nearest Via Rail station is in Edmonton.
The spine of Central Alberta is Highway 2, which connects Calgary and Edmonton. Highway 22 (Cowboy Trail) runs along the eastern edge of the foothills and continues into the ranch lands of Southern Alberta. Highway 11 (David Thompson Highway) connects Central Alberta to Banff National Park and the Icefields Parkway, while Highways 12 and 13 connect to Saskatchewan.
Rider Express runs buses from Saskatoon, to Lloydminster, Vegreville and Edmonton.
Aside from the corridors from Edmonton through Red Deer to Calgary, and Edmonton through Vegreville to Lloydminster, you'll find little by way of public transportation. You'll need a car or a bike to get around.
The scenery is really the thing to see: the views of the Rocky Mountains are the highlight.
The Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site contains the remains of several early 19th-century fur trade forts.
Herds of wild horses inhabit the fields and slopes of the lower Rocky Mountains. You can also see them at a rescue facility west of Sundre.
Kalyna Country is a living museum of Austrian, Polish, Romanian, and especially Ukrainian settlement and immigration. The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village 50 km east of Edmonton on Highway 16 has over 30 historic buildings. The Vegreville Pysanka, constructed of thousands of aluminium pieces, is a 9-m-tall Ukrainian Easter egg.
Go camping in one of the many provincial parks. Take a guided horse-back tour of Rocky Mountain Foothills near Nordegg. Visit one of many small-town museums for some local history. Float or paddle one of several main rivers (Pembina River Provincial Park and Red Lodge Provincial Park are especially popular for this). Go mountain biking at Baseline Mountain near Rocky Mountain House or Willmore Park near Edson. Or in winter try cross-country skiing at Hornbeck Forest Recreation Area near Edson. Watch a hockey game in Red Deer at the Westerner Park Centrium.
This is beef ranching country, try the steak!
Wear bright orange whenever out in the wilderness in the autumn, as this is hunting season. This way you won't be mistaken for a deer.