The Central Corridor (also called the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor) is part of Central Alberta, located between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. This is the most densely populated part of Alberta but is still wide-open by the standards of most places. The terrain is gently rolling in the west and quite flat everywhere else except for a few river valleys. The landscape is dominated by grain and cattle farming as well as the oil and gas industry. The main reason travellers find themselves here is because they are on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (also known as Highway 2 or "the QE2") connecting Edmonton and Calgary, and are looking for something to do to break-up the drive. Red Deer is by far the largest place along the highway and is almost exactly halfway between the two major cities. The other towns are decidedly smaller and more out-of-the-way.
- 1 Red Deer — by far the largest city in Central Alberta with over 100,000 inhabitants
- 2 Alix — a village with a lake for recreation
- 3 Bentley — a small town with a lake for recreation
- 4 Big Valley — the destination for the Alberta Prairie Railway Excursion from Stettler, it has a historic train station and roundhouse
- 5 Camrose — a college town with Norwegian heritage and about 18,000 people, making it the largest after Red Deer.
- 6 Didsbury and Carstairs — two neighboring towns within a short drive of Calgary and the Foothills
- 7 Innisfail — the closest town to rural attractions like a man-made lake, a police-dog training kennel, a restored historic creamery (which sells great ice cream), the Canadian home of Iceland's most famous poet, and Canada's National Danish Museum
- 8 Lacombe — 13,000 people, a college, and a locally-famous craft brewery
- 9 Olds — a college town with a craft brewery attached to the school, with a population of about 9,000 this is the gateway to the Foothills further west.
- 10 Ponoka — famous for its annual rodeo, one of Alberta's largest. Population around 7,000
- 11 Rimbey — small town with a racetrack and truck museum.
- 12 Stettler — population of 6,000 and home to a restored tourist train.
- 13 Sylvan Lake — a lakeside resort town with a provincial park, a marina, a boardwalk lined with shops, and around 15,000 inhabitants
- 14 Wetaskiwin — with about 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.
International flights are available to the Calgary and Edmonton airports, which are on the north and south end of their respective cities, i.e. close to the Corridor. Red Deer has a regional airport with connections to Calgary.
Central Alberta is not served by passenger rail, with the nearest Via Rail station being 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 next-door 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 East Central Alberta and Saskatchewan.
You don't come here for the architecture. The scenery is pleasantly agricultural, though rather flat and unchanging. The best places to see a break from the open grain fields would be in the river valleys of the Battle River (in and around Ponoka) and the Red Deer River (within and nearby the City of Red Deer), which are rolling and partially tree-covered.
There is plenty of history to be explored with four museums in Wetaskiwin, historic Fort Normandeau in Red Deer, the Danish Canadian Museum in Dickson, the world's largest collection of Budweiser beer memorabilia in Neapolis, and at least one museum in almost every other town.
The Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary in Red Deer is a great place to see birds and wildlife in 118 hectares of protected land.
Go camping in one of the many provincial parks. There many golf courses scattered around the region. Watch a hockey game in Red Deer at the Westerner Park Centrium.
Take a one-day rail excursion on the Alberta Prairie Railway from Stettler to Big Valley. There is on-board entertainment and maybe even a train robbery.
Go horseback riding at Heritage Ranch in Red Deer or Flying Cross Ranch in Lacombe.
The Ponoka Stampede is a 7-day rodeo that plays host to rodeo competitors and fans from across Canada, the US and Australia.
Ski at the Gwynne Valley Ski Area east of Wetaskiwin.
Catch a Red Deer Rebel hockey game at the Westerner Park Centrium.
Relax at Pigeon Lake by renting a cottage, or camping at its provincial park.
This is beef ranching country, try the steak!
Drink and smokeEdit
Because there is a both and brewing program and a marijuana cultivation program at Olds College, the region has a surprisingly strong craft beer and scene and an emerging cannabis scene.
All of the town and villages listed have public libraries that offer free internet access.
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.