Red Deer Is The Perfect Base Camp For Your Next Adventure
The centralized location of Red Deer makes it the ideal base camp to explore many unique areas around the province. For example, Red Deer is within driving distance of the beautiful Canadian Badlands, the mountainous David Thompson Country, a plethora of small town experiences and a wide selection of lakes and beaches to explore.
Filled with coulee landscapes and hoodoo rock formations, driving through the Canadian Badlands is truly a unique and picturesque experience. The Canadian Badlands cover most of southwest Alberta, and stretch to areas southeast of Red Deer.
One of the biggest attractions the area has to offer is the Royal Tyrell Museum near Drumheller, which is the only museum in Canada dedicated to the study of paleontology. About 90 minutes away from Red Deer, the Drumheller area also includes very scenic drives and lookout points, such as Horseshoe Canyon and Lookout Canyon.
Other attractions include the Rosebud Theatre just south of Drumheller, Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions in Stettler, the world’s Largest Lamp at Donalda, the Dry Island Buffalo jump west of Big Valley, and the Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington.
David Thompson Country
From Red Deer, the gateway into the Rocky Mountains is along Highway 11, better known as the David Thompson Highway. This area has numerous hiking, fishing, boating, camping, and photo taking opportunities.
About 85 kilometres west of Red Deer is the town of Rocky Mountain House. The town itself is home to scenic walking trails, the Rocky Museum, and an upbeat downtown area.
The Rocky Mountain House Historical Site is just southwest of town, along the North Saskatchewan River. The museum outlines the history of early Métis culture with interpreters and interactive adventures.
About 87 kilometres west of Rocky Mountain House is the town of Nordegg. Nordegg is home to the Nordegg Heritage Museum which showcases the rich coal mining history of the area.
By now, you’ve entered the Rocky Mountains. Just west of Nordegg is the beautiful Abraham Lake area. This is possibly the most scenic lake in Alberta with bright blue waters in the summer time and the breathtaking ice bubbles in the winter. There are numerous RV opportunities along the lake and highway, along with some of the more scenic walks in the province. This includes Crescent Falls, Siffleur Falls, Allstones Lake, and so many others. The area has hikes and trails fit for beginners and experts alike.
Small Town Treasures
The town of Innisfail is just 30 kilometres south of Red Deer on Highway 2. Attractions in Innisfail include Discovery Wildlife Park, the RCMP Dog Service Training Centre, the Double Tree Village Museum and the Historical Village. Agriculture is also a big part of the Innisfail area with Edgar Farms, The Jungle Farm, and Nixon Honey Farm all within the outskirts of town.
Markerville may be a small hamlet, but it packs a lot of history and is a big draw for visitors. Markerville’s most famous resident was Stephan G. Stephansson, whose home is now a Provincial Historical Site located just north of town. Markerville is also home to the historic Markerville Creamery Museum and the annual Taste Of Markerville event held each summer. Markerville is not far from the Danish Canadian Museum and the Dickson Store Museum.
Blackfalds is a very short drive away from Red Deer, just 12 kilometres north of the city. Attractions include the recently constructed Abbey Centre, which features an outdoor aquatic centre, running track, fitness area, field house, and arena. It also includes a massive 2,600 square foot indoor play space for children. There’s also various trails, parks, and an off leash dog park available, all perfect options to keep active while in Blackfalds. Bird watchers will want to visit the Ellis Bird Farm just east of Blackfalds.
The Town of Stettler can be found on Highway 12 about 90 kilometres straight east of Red Deer. Stettler prides itself on being a small town with city style amenities and great attractions. One of the most popular is the Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions, which take visitors on a steam train experience that departs and returns back to Stettler. Other attractions include a historical downtown walking tour, the Stettler Recreation Centre, the P&H Elevator, and the Town and Country Museum.
Located right in the heart of the Canadian Badlands, Three Hills has many attractions in town and within arm’s reach of many other points of interest in the area. Within Three Hills you’ll find campgrounds, an aquatic centre, the Three Hills Golf Course, the Knee Hill Historical Museum and local parks. Three Hills is about 1 hour southwest of Red Deer.
Just 40 minutes north of Red Deer on Highway 2A is the Town of Ponoka. Ponoka is best known for their annual summer favourite, the 7 day Ponoka Stampede, held every year during the last week of June and running through Canada Day. Ponoka is also home to the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall Of Fame. Aside from the rodeo scene, other attractions include the Wolf Creek Trail, which starts in Ponoka, and the Lions Centennial Park where you can find the world’s largest bucking saddle bronc and rider.
Heading west, the town of Sylvan Lake is just 24 kilometres away from Red Deer and is a very popular summer destination. The lake itself brings in people from all over the province, and the town features several lakeside dining, shopping and exploring opportunities. The recently opened Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash offers a one of a kind open air water park on the lake.
Just northwest of Rocky Mountain House is the very scenic Crimson Lake Provincial Park. The park offers a great opportunity for canoeing, kayaking and camping, along with a well groomed beach. Surrounding Crimson Lake is the Ameranda Trail which is 10 kilometres in length, perfect for a comfortable bike ride, run or walk.
Pigeon Lake is home to 2 provincial parks, 5 beaches, 3 campgrounds, and a perfect summer destination. Ma-Me-Oh Beach is arguably the biggest attraction at Pigeon Lake, along with Ma-Me-Oh Beach Provincial Park. The lake offers swimming, boating and sun tanning options and the village of Pigeon Lake has the amenities to accommodate all visitors. The smaller Battle Lake, Wizard Lake, and Twin Lakes also offer nearby camping options. Pigeon Lake is 112km north of Red Deer.
A few minutes west of Lacombe is the beautiful Gull Lake. The area is great for camping, swimming, boating, golfing, trail walking, and is home to the Central Alberta Sailing Club. Aspen Beach Provincial Park is a big attraction, along with the large beach area. The town of Bentley is just west of the lake and offers all services. Gull Lake is 37 kilometres north of Red Deer.
Pine Lake is located in a wooded area south east of Red Deer. Great for fishing, boating, and family adventure, the 120 square kilometre lake also provides overnight and day camping opportunities. There are nearby trails and golf courses which ses the table for a full day of fun. Pine Lake is about 30 minutes away from Red Deer.
One of the most popular fishing spots for anglers is Dickson Dam at Glennifer Lake. The reservoir is located 45 minutes southwest of Red Deer, just south of Spruceview. There are 6 different provincial recreation areas at the lake, perfect for camping, walking, and enjoying a hot day at the lake. Pike, Walleye, and Trout are stocked in the lake for anglers.
This massive lake can be found 110 kilometres east of Red Deer. It’s home to the Rochon Sands Provincial Park, and the lake has 3 main entry bays for boaters, anglers, campers, and beach goers. Animals such as elk, deer and moose frequent the area, creating good chance to see some wildlife. Nearby attractions include the Reynolds Alberta Museum, which showcases historical automotive, aviation, motorcycle and industry vehicles.