Experience the David Thompson Corridor
Avoid the crowds while drinking in the incredible scenery. Take the road less travelled.
David Thompson Country is a vast tract of land between Rocky Mountain House and Saskatchewan Crossing, where the David Thompson Highway (Hwy 11) intersects with the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93). This area is often overlooked by travellers, however it is dotted with lakes, campground, lodges, resorts, and even a heli tour operator.
Rocky Mountain House
Fur traders put Rocky Mountain House on the map 200 years ago when the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company established trading post forts on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. One famous resident was David Thompson, the greatest chronicler of his day of landscapes, people and nature. His famous map of the Province of Canada covered 1/6 of the continent, with unprecedented accuracy.
The Rocky Mountain House trading post fort was eventually deserted in 1875, however it lives on as a National Historic Site that commemorates the rich era of the fur traders and explorers of Western Canada. Stroll along the interpretive trails. The kids will love the pint-sized play fort and puppet theatre along with a chance to see the bison.
Located 90 km west of Rocky Mountain House, Nordegg has slipped off the radar for 50 years. Travellers are starting to rediscover this rugged countryside. You can enjoy a wide range of summer activities, from bird watching and wildlife viewing to mountain biking and fly fishing. Lounge around the campfire in one of over 300 campsites. Swing a club at the 9-hole golf course, or live out your cowboy dreams on a horseback.
In 1907, a colourful entrepreneur, Martin Nordegg headed west with his sights set on the coal seams on the eastern slopes. By 1911, he had built the Brazeau Collieries. His efforts were key to development a major industry as immigrant miners arrived from Europe. Visit the Brazeau Collieries National Historic Site and the Nordegg Heritage Centre for more.
Throughout the corridor, Westward Bound offers travellers more than 320 campsites. Most are pretty basic (toilets and water) and those are priced between $20 – $32 per night.
Without a doubt, the #1 natural year-round attraction along this corridor is Abraham Lake, a large, aquamarine reservoir created by the Bighorn Dam. Photographers flock here in the winter to take pictures of the gas bubbles frozen in the ice. And in the summer, hike up at least one of the adjacent hillsides for an incredible view of the lake and neighbouring peaks.
Windy Point Ridge is a 3.6 km hike (round trip) to an elevation of 2,060m at “The Lookout” which is marked by a cairn and offers superb views of the surrounding terrain.
Hoodoo Creek is a short and spectacular hike to dramatic hoodoos. Perfect for the fossil hound this creek is actually a dry creekbed, located across the highway at Abraham Lake. The trail access is 3km south of Windy Point.
You should plan to make a hike to Allstones Lake a full day hiking adventure. It’s a round trip of 13km to an elevation of 1,890m, but there are several worthwhile options which can substantially extend your day, such as take time out to view into the rocky abyss of Allstones Creek. It is a long strenuous hike, but the reward is a beautiful view of Abraham Lake far below. Take hiking poles if you have them.
A less rigorous hike is the popular 4km trail to Siffleur Falls. It is located just west of Abraham Lake in the Kootenay Ecological Reserve and begins with a traverse across a suspension bridge over the North Saskatchewan River. On a hot day, the spray of water plunging spectacularly over a deep, narrow gorge is very refreshing.
The Kootenay Plains were visited by David Thompson in the early 1800’s and has long been important to Aboriginal people as evidenced by several sundance lodges. The plains protect one of the best examples of montane habitat in all of Alberta. The unique grassland and forest mosaic provides important habitat for wildlife and is home to many species of rare plants.
This year, when celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday, take the road less travelled to David Thompson Country for camping, hiking, and to learn more about the rich history of this area and of our country. (#ExperienceOurCanada)