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Rockies & Ranchlands Circle Route

Idaho Peak, Selkirk Mountains

(Dave Heath photo)

Transportation & Maps

Rockies & Ranchlands Circle Route

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1 to 3 days, 1091.61 km (678.30 mi)

Hiking near Fernie (Dave Heath photo)
Hiking near Fernie (Dave Heath photo)

Drive through the famous Canadian Rocky Mountains to see magnificent peaks and lush alpine forests. Also experience Alberta's cowboy country foothills and prairies.

Select one of the parts to view its details:

All Parts
Part 1
Calgary Ranching Country

85.61 km - about 1 hours 17 min

Beginning in Calgary, Alberta, head west on Highway 22X (Cowboy Trail) through the high ranching country of the Alberta prairie. En route are Spruce Meadows, the #1 show jumping facility in the world, and the communities of Black Diamond and Turner Valley, the initial home of Calgary's oil industry boom.

Part 2
Alberta Heritage Sites

234.98 km - about 2 hours 56 min

Continue south from Black Diamond to Longview and the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site (13km/8mi south of Longview). East on Road 533 to Highway 2 is Nanton. On the way to Fort Macleod, west on Highway 785, is a fascinating Aboriginal heritage site: Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo-Jump. This site is one of the oldest, largest, and well-preserved buffalo jumps across the Western Plains. Continue south to Cardston, the location of Remington Carriage Museum, North America's largest museum of horse-drawn transportation.

Part 3
Waterton Lakes National Park and BC

176.12 km - about 2 hours 10 min

From Cardston, drive to Waterton Lakes National Park. Highway 6 from Waterton Lakes leads to Pincher Creek and the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, a turn of the 19th-century historic village.

Enter British Columbia at Sparwood.

Bighorn sheep, Tourism BC photo
Part 4
Sparwood and Elkford

96.92 km - about 1 hours 54 min

Sparwood is home of the Terex Titan, the largest tandem-axle dump truck in the world. A short drive on Highway 43 leads to Elkford, which has one of the largest bighorn sheep populations on the continent and offers amazing wilderness and wildlife viewing. From Elkford, backtrack to Sparwood and then drive south to Fernie.

Fort Steele Heritage Town, Tourism BC/David Gluns photo
Part 5
Fernie and Fort Steele Heritage Town

93.97 km - about 1 hours 10 min

Fernie is marked by beautiful Victorian architecture against a backdrop of towering mountains, and offers world-class fly-fishing, mountain biking, and golfing.

From Fernie, en route to Fort Steele Heritage Town, the Bull River turnoff leads to the Kootenay Trout Hatchery. Take a self-guided tour of the hatchery's extensive interpretive area to view trophy-sized trout in the moat, or turtles, fish, and water insects in the pond.

Fort Steele Heritage Town is a restored 1890s boomtown that features horse-drawn wagon tours, costumed interpreters, and steam train rides.

Radium Hot Springs, Canadian Rockies Hot Springs/Brenda Falvey photo
Part 6
Hot Springs and Sandy Beaches

126.38 km - about 1 hours 46 min

Continue north towards Radium Hot Springs, where Highway 93/95 leads to the sandy beaches and warm waters of Wasa Lake. Also close by are Lussier Hot Springs in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, and Fairmont Hot Springs. Back on Hwy 93/95, the Kootenay National Park Visitor Centre in Radium Hot Springs has an exhibit that provides a historical overview of the Ktunaxa First Nations.

Hiking in Kootenay National Park, Tourism BC/Marlene Ford photo
Part 7
Kootenay National Park to Alberta

277.63 km - about 3 hours 20 min

Take Highway 93 into Kootenay National Park. Finally, connect east on Highway 1 towards Banff, and head back to Calgary.

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Driving Directions

Part 1 - Calgary Ranching Country - 85.61 km - about 1 hours 17 min
1.

Head south on Alberta 2 S toward Exit 261

27.04 km
2.

Take exit 234 for Alberta 22X/Marquis of Lorne Trail toward Bragg Creek/Brooks

0.69 km
3.

Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Marquis of Lorne Trail W/Braggs Creek/AB-22X and merge onto Marquis of Lorne Trail SE/AB-22X WContinue to follow AB-22X W

21.38 km
4.

Make a U-turn at 192 St W/Range Road 30Destination will be on the right

1.22 km
5.

Head east on Spruce Meadows Trail SE E toward Range Road 25

0.45 km
6.

Make a U-turn at Range Road 25

1.68 km
7.

Continue onto AB-22X W

1.60 km
8.

Turn left onto Cowboy Trail (signs for AB-22 S/Turner Valley/Black Diamond/Millarville)

27.47 km
9.

Turn left onto Cowboy Trail/Valley Rd NEContinue to follow Cowboy Trail

4 km
10.

Turn right onto Cowboy Trail/Government Rd/AB-22 SDestination will be on the right

0.07 km
Part 2 - Alberta Heritage Sites - 234.98 km - about 2 hours 56 min
1.

Head south on Cowboy Trail/Government Rd toward 1 Ave SWContinue to follow Cowboy Trail

36.72 km
2.

Head south on Cowboy Trail toward Township Road 162

19.49 km
3.

Turn left onto AB-533 E (signs for Nanton)

27.94 km
4.

Turn right to stay on AB-533 E

9.40 km
5.

Turn right onto Alberta 2 S (signs for AB-2 S)

76.11 km
6.

Keep left at the fork, follow signs for AB-3 E/Fort Macleod/Lethbridge/AB-2 S/Cardston and merge onto Crowsnest Hwy/AB-3 E

5.44 km
7.

Turn right onto Alberta 2 S (signs for AB-2 S/Cardston/Waterton)

59.35 km
8.

Turn right onto 1 Ave W/AB-5 W/AB-501 W

0.54 km
Part 3 - Waterton Lakes National Park and BC - 176.12 km - about 2 hours 10 min
1.

Head west on 1 Ave W/AB-5 W/AB-501 W toward 3 St WContinue to follow AB-5 W

29.06 km
2.

Head west on AB-5 W toward Range Road 284

15.07 km
3.

Continue onto AB-6 N

47.74 km
4.

At the roundabout, take the 1st exit and stay on AB-6 N

2.88 km
5.

Turn left onto Crowsnest Hwy/AB-3 W (signs for Crowsnest Pass/Crowsnest Highway)Continue to follow Crowsnest HwyEntering British ColumbiaDestination will be on the right

81.36 km
Part 4 - Sparwood and Elkford - 96.92 km - about 1 hours 54 min
1.

Head east on Crowsnest Hwy/BC-3 E toward Elk Valley Hwy/BC-43 N

0.02 km
2.

Take the 1st left onto Elk Valley Hwy/BC-43 N (signs for Elkford N)Destination will be on the left

33.51 km
3.

Head south on Elk Valley Hwy/BC-43 S toward Union Rd

33.48 km
4.

Turn right onto Crowsnest Hwy/BC-3 WDestination will be on the left

29.91 km
Part 5 - Fernie and Fort Steele Heritage Town - 93.97 km - about 1 hours 10 min
1.

Head southwest on Crowsnest Hwy/BC-3 W toward 9 St

86.55 km
2.

Merge onto Kootenay Hwy/BC-93 N/BC-95 S via the ramp to Invermere/Radium/Hot Springs

7.42 km
Part 6 - Hot Springs and Sandy Beaches - 126.38 km - about 1 hours 46 min
1.

Head north on Kootenay Hwy/BC-93 N/BC-95 N toward Wardner Fort Steele Rd

23.94 km
2.

Turn right to stay on Kootenay Hwy/BC-93 N/BC-95 N (signs for Invermere/Radium/Golden)Destination will be on the right

102.44 km
Part 7 - Kootenay National Park to Alberta - 277.63 km - about 3 hours 20 min
1.

Head north on Kootenay Hwy/BC-93 N/BC-95 N

0.15 km
2.

Take the 1st right onto Kootenay Hwy/BC-93 N (signs for British Colombia 93 S)

71.14 km
3.

Head northwest on Kootenay Hwy/BC-93 NEntering Alberta

22.78 km
4.

Continue onto Banff Windermere Pkwy/Icefields Pkwy/AB-93 N

9.55 km
5.

Slight right toward AB-1 E (signs for Trans Canada Highway/AB-1 E/Banff)

0.30 km
6.

Take the AB-1 E/Trans Canada Highway ramp to Banff

0.43 km
7.

Merge onto AB-1 E

140.41 km
8.

Take exit 177 toward AB-201 N/Stoney Trail

1.75 km
9.

Merge onto Stoney Trail NW/Alberta 201 E

21.74 km
10.

Take the exit toward Alberta 2 S

0.54 km
11.

Keep right at the fork and merge onto Alberta 2 SDestination will be on the left

8.84 km