Follow the Yellowhead
The Yellowhead Highway 16 is the most northerly of the three primary east/west roadways leading into the mountain parks. The Yellowhead was officially opened in 1970 although the route it follows dates back 200 years.
The highway takes its name from the Yellowhead Pass. This pass and Tête Jaune Cache (pron. Tee-John Cash) were named after an Iroquois-Métis trapper, Pierre Bostonais. Apparently Pierre had blonde streaks in his hair, so the French Voyageurs called him “Tête Jaune” (yellow head).
To experience the Yellowhead Highway, the City of Edmonton, and the mountain parks, we recommend a 14-day “double loop tour”. Let’s get started…
Spend a few days in Edmonton, to get over the jet lag and stretch your legs. For more than 200 years, it has been an important gathering place for west-bound visitors heading to the mountain parks. Edmonton is Canada’s Festival City, welcoming visitors to more than 30 festivals each year. You can also see a major sporting event, take the family to a museum or gallery, or play in the fresh air on over 160 kilometres of nature trails.
The Edmonton Attractions Pass is the essential sightseeing pass for visitors who want to take in all the best of the city’s attractions! Available online: edmontonattractions.com. One pass gives you admission to 16 of the most visited places in Edmonton and surrounding area.
One of the participating attractions is the Royal Alberta Museum. Take the whole family on a journey of discovery in the Syncrude Gallery of Aboriginal Culture. Stories spanning 11,000 years track an extraordinary history of Alberta’s First Peoples, from the arrival of the Ice Age to the present day. The Natural History Gallery packs a billion years into one visit. See spectacular minerals and gems; discover dinosaurs, Sabre-toothed cats and even a mammoth. For more information: royalalbertamuseum.ca
Fort Edmonton Park is a living history park that traces the growth of Edmonton from a fur trading post to a booming metropolitan centre. Interpreters who dress in period costumes will bring the past to life for you. fortedmontonpark.ca (half day)
It is easy to spend 3 or 4 days in Edmonton, but when you are ready to head west, we have a few “must sees” for you. You will be amazed by what the area just outside of Edmonton has to offer.
Edmonton’s Countryside includes 22 municipalities that host 200 events each year. Discover local artisans, enjoy the bountiful taste of vegetables and fruits from our local farmers markets and farms. Explore the region’s historical sites. Laugh out loud at fun-filled festivals and country fairs or escape the hustle and bustle, enjoying a quiet weekend at a country bed and breakfast. EdmontonsCountryside.com
The Town of Stony Plain has 25 magnificent outdoor murals. Ask for a Mural Guide at the Multicultural Heritage Centre. stonyplain.com. Because it is located only 30 minutes west of the West Edmonton Mall, Stony Plain makes for a quiet and convenient home base from which travellers are able to conveniently explore Edmonton and area, year-round.
Pembina River Provincial Park is located 45 min west of Stony Plain, 2 km north of the junction of Hwys #16 and #22 (The Cowboy Trail), between the hamlets of Entwistle and Evansburg. This scenic park provides hot and weary travellers with 35 picnic sites, 132 campsites, group use facilities, flush toilets, showers, playground, boat launch, and a fish cleaning station. This park can fill up quickly so reserve your spot well in advance of your arrival. Phone: 1-877-537-2757 or go to reserve.albertaparks.ca.
Two hours west of Pembina River, the local trails in Hinton are spectacular. A 3 km Beaver Boardwalk meanders through a wetland ecosystem, giving you a front row seat to watch beavers at work and in play. Looking for adventure? Consider a helicopter ride, an ATV tour – things you can’t do in a national park. Let the kids check out the mountain bike skills park. Hinton boasts about 1,000 remarkable & affordable campground sites. For more information go to hinton.ca.
From Hinton we are 30 minutes away from Jasper National Park. Drive west to Valemount and then south through Clearwater to Kamloops. Then follow the Gold Rush Trail north to Prince George.
Now back on the Yellowhead, head east to Jasper and then south along the amazing Icefields Parkway. From Saskatchewan Crossing, drive east along the David Thompson Highway to Rocky Mountain House, the home of another important National Historic Site. Continue eastward until you get to Red Deer, then turn north back to Edmonton.