June 21, 2021

The Crowsnest Pass: Where History and Adventure Come Alive

by Greg Turlock

Does your family like adventure? History that you can see and experience? A ghost town to explore? This summer, take a staycation in southwestern Alberta and visit the Crowsnest Pass.

During late October of 2020, my wife and I had a week to explore southern Alberta. The highlight for us was visiting the Crowsnest Pass through the Rocky Mountains. This beautiful area can be accessed by turning west off Highway 2 and onto Highway 3. After driving sixty kilometres, you will be welcomed by an area rich in coal mining history, hiking, exploring, and, of course, the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre.

Can I offer a few recommendations of things to see and experience when visiting?

  • When driving west on Highway 3, watch for the historic 700-year-old Burmis limber pine tree on the north side of the road.
  • Take the south turnoff for a short drive to the beautiful Lundbreck Falls.
  • As you continue west, watch for the Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site on the north side of the highway.
  • Check out the town of Bellevue and the underground mine tours (north of the highway).
  • The Hillcrest Mine Disaster cemetery is a worthwhile visit (south of the highway).
  • As you head west, you will come to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. Turn right to learn about the Turtle Mountain disaster of 1903. One hundred and ten million tonnes of rock slid down the mountain, burying part of the town of Frank and killing more than seventy people. Interpretive tours of the museum and trails are informative and breathtaking.
  • Want a ghost town adventure? Take the hike to Lille, north of the Interpretive Centre — just shy of fifteen kilometres round-trip. Take precautions, and note that this trail is only accessible by hiking, quad, or four-wheel drive vehicle.
  • As you go west, you will come to Coleman. The Crowsnest Museum is a must-see.
  • Camping and fishing can be found at Crowsnest Lake, Window Mountain Lake, Chinook Lake, and campsites in town areas.
  • Hiking, quadding, and biking trails are abundant in this area, as are restaurants and specialty stores.

For more information contact the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce online.

Before You Head Out

Of course, COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Check with local authorities on availability of campsites and attractions. Be sure to bring water, bear spray, a comfortable pair of shoes, and your camera — and pack a picnic lunch! You won’t be disappointed. Have fun and be safe!

Greg Turlock is an author, poet, photographer, and songwriter. His published credits include award-winning poetry, a young adult novel, a photo essay, and a short story. Greg is retiring from a career in materials management and logistics in July 2021 and is looking forward to joining his wife in ARTA membership.