Vacations take planning, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to have a good time when you’re in Alberta. Here are five free ways to make the most of a summer day just outside of Jasper National Park.
When you’re done at the bike park, head across the road to Hinton’s newest outdoor attraction, which opened in 2017. This 18-hole disc-golf course uses its forested setting to its advantage, building the natural landscape and scenic Alberta topography into the course itself. Bring the whole family, and to save time, remember to pick up your discs ahead of time from the town’s information centre (a small deposit is required).
Think hoodoos are only found in southern Alberta? Think again. Take a quick drive east of Hinton, turn north on Highway 16, and from there it’s just a one-kilometre hike along the Wild Sculpture Trail to see these rare, stunning sandstone formations, which were caused by differential erosion patterns when glacier melt formed the Sundance Valley thousands of years ago. A true Alberta hidden gem. Plus, once you’re in the park, you can keep trekking into the valley or set up camp at Emerson Lakes, a nearby network of seven gorgeous lakes.
In the mood for wildlife? There’s no better place to see it than the Beaver Boardwalk, which was built to commemorate the town of Hinton’s 50th anniversary in 2006. This unique wooden pathway lets you get up close and personal to a variety of amphibians, waterfowl, wetland plants, and, yes, beavers, on a path that winds along Happy Creek, up through some of Hinton’s famed trail network, and back to the waterfront around Maxwell Lake. A series of interpretative signs give more details about the different species in the area and remind us how we can all make sure wetlands like this remain intact for generations to come.
Maybe you aren’t looking for something physically demanding. If so, Hinton’s got you covered there, too — just pick up a free copy of the town’s driving-tour brochure and take a self-guided trip through the history of the town from the comfort of your vehicle. What better way to learn about the original homesteaders and ranchers than to see their old properties for yourself? Learn about vital historical industries at the Coal Branch Archives and Hinton Station, and make sure to leave time for a picnic lunch at the Green Square, where you can have any lingering questions answered at the distinctive Visitor Information Centre.