The “Big Sky Country” is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, but it also caters to history buffs and those who generally just want a relaxing vacation. One of the attractions that makes Alberta truly special is the Crowsnest Pass. Located along Canada’s Continental Divide and sitting in the province’s southwest corner, Crowsnest Pass is ideal for anyone who wants to experience a mountain retreat, away from the big tourist crowds.
All around this pass, you will see mountains, some of which are snowcapped, serving as amazing backdrops to incredible outdoor adventures. Once here, there is a wide array of activities you can engage in! Bike or hike the hills and mountains of Crowsnest! Fish or kayak in the river, or maybe do both. For each season, there’s always something to do or somewhere to explore.
Crowsnest Pass was originally a coal-mining hotspot. Its five 20th century communities make up the present municipality of the same name. These days, the communities, which are Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Blairmore and Coleman are highly regarded for their rich history and mining heritage. Luckily, they are only a couple of minutes’ drive from each other. This allows you to possibly visit all of them in one day. As an extra bonus for your effort, you will be treated to gorgeous mountainous countryside as you go from one town to the next. If you like hiking, then you can venture into some of the historic hiking trails located in and around these five towns
Another outstanding trait of Crowsnest Pass is its long history. One of its memorable, albeit tragic, moments was the 1903 Frank Slide, which buried a section of the mining town, under millions of tons of limestone. Today, the Frank Slide Interpretative Center stands to tell the story of the notorious rockslide. It has also become one of the biggest attractions in the area. The center is open all year round and offers an awe-inspiring view of the Canadian Rockies. While here, you can also participate in various interpretive programs and presentations. As if one tragedy is not enough to plague the area, another major mining incident took place in the Hillcrest Mine in 1914. With 189 men losing their lives that faithful day; this unfortunate disaster has been recorded as one of the worst in the Canadian mining history.
When you reach Blairmore, take the time to do the self-guided Historical Walking Tour, which leads you to a fascinating collection of heritage houses and old buildings. The last town of the municipality is Coleman. After this stop, the next major step is to cross the great Continental Divide to enter British Columbia. Whether you plan to cross over or return to the starting point (Fort Macleod), consider stopping by the remarkable Crowsnest Museum in Blairmore.