Summer Getaways: Alberta

Where to find your inner cowboy

Summer Getaways: Alberta, where to find your inner cowboy

Calgary Stampede (Photograph by Chris Bolin)

Canadian Death Race (July 30-Aug. 2)
Set on a 125-km course in the Rocky Mountains, this event is one of the world’s toughest adventure races. Competitors must conquer three mountain summits—a total of 5,200 m in elevation changes—and pass through pristine forests, mountain trails and snow-covered terrain. Training camps are offered June 11-13 and July 2-4. But don’t expect any big prizes at the finish line. Bragging rights for surviving is by far the biggest reward.

Banff National Park celebrates its 125th anniversary
This is Canada’s oldest national park and the most visited tourist destination in Alberta. To celebrate the park’s 125th anniversary, visitors can take part in writing and photo contests, travelling exhibitions, or embark on hiking, horseback riding, camping and climbing excursions. For something a little less rustic, unwind at the Upper Hot Springs, or tee off at the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course, home to 27 holes in the heart of Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

Strathmore Heritage Days Stampede (July 29-Aug. 2)
It may not exactly be the streets of Pamplona, Spain, but dozens of thrill-seekers will climb into the ring in Strathmore this summer for the eighth annual running of the bulls. If being chased by a herd of bulls sounds a bit too dangerous, sit in the grandstands and watch some 400 contestants compete in six rodeo events, including calf roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding and ladies’ barrel racing. Canada’s third largest rodeo, held in this town 40 km east of Calgary, also features dog shows, a petting zoo, concerts, a farmers’ market and monster-truck rides.

Calgary Stampede (July 9-18)
This 10-day celebration of Calgary’s rough-and-ready image kicks off with a downtown parade including 150 floats and hundreds of horses. The world-famous stampede also features bull riding, barrel racing and rodeo competitions with $50,000 winner-take-all prizes up for grabs. New this year is an extreme cowboy race at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Other must-see attractions include an Indian Village, featuring native dance competitions, and the Rope Square, where free pancake breakfasts are served every morning from the back of chuckwagons

To see what Laureen Harper picks as her favourite spots, go to Where famous Canucks go to play

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