Road Trip – Calgary to Fernie, BC
After a few days of catching up with family, we hit the road going south, then west to Fernie, British Columbia. The most direct route out of Calgary was to take Highway 2, also known as Deerfoot Trail as it crosses through Calgary. It was a bit like driving in a Formula One Grand Prix race — I swear one pick-up truck passed us going 160 km/h — until we approached the city limits; then it became relaxing country driving.
Highway 2 bypasses many towns going south, but it’s not too inconvenient to stop for food or gas when required. We made a stop in High River for a toilet / wifi / food break. If you decide to do the same, do not do what we did, which was taking the first off-ramp to High River; this will lead you to the industrial part of town. The second exit will lead you straight to the fast food restaurants and service stations.
Back on the road, it wasn’t much longer before we reached our turn-off at Highway 785. This is the road that will take you to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site. If you don’t intend to stop here, keep going on Highway 2, and turn right at Highway 3 (Crowsnest Highway).
The HSI Buffalo Jump is well set up. There’s plenty of parking (and overflow parking). They also have a shuttle bus that will pick you up from the parking lot and take you up the hill to the main building. They are open from 9 am to 5 pm everyday during the summer. Cost of entry for adults is $15 each.
We were given a map upon entry and advised that it’s best to start at the top of the building and work our way down, so that’s what we did. The first stop was outside and along a short path to where you can view the actual buffalo jump.
Back inside and down the stairs, there was an audiovisual display showing what life was for the native Indians back in the day. The next level down was a display of the type of things the Indians would normally have in their possession.
The next floor down showed how the buffalo hunt was carried out. The next stop was the theatre. A 15-minute long movie was shown re-enacting the buffalo hunt. It was clear that no buffalo were harmed in the making of the movie. The next stop was the on-site cafeteria. Food and beverages are available for purchase, but the cafeteria closes much earlier than the rest of the site, so keep this in mind. The last two levels down outline the first contact between white men and native Indians, and the progression of that relationship over time as related to the buffalo hunt.
Upon departing the site, we turned right onto Highway 785 as Google Maps showed it connects to the Crowsnest Highway. What Google Maps didn’t tell us was that this part of the highway is mostly gravel road. We had to drive slower than normal highway speeds, but this part of Alberta is beautiful with plenty of rolling grassy hills.
Further south we came upon hundreds of windmills. This part of Alberta is extremely windy so this is the perfect spot for them.
Eventually we make it to the Crowsnest Highway and head west towards Fernie. Driving through the Rockies is always awe-inspiring.
We stopped at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. Although we arrived too late to visit the centre, we’re able to go the the adjacent scenic lookout to have a look. The volume and size of the rocks that slid down the mountain is quite amazing to see up close.
It was just another hour of driving to get to Fernie. We drove through some spectacular country. The road is pretty good, but usually just one lane in each direction; however, they do have frequent enough passing lanes so that you won’t be stuck behind a gigantic, slow-moving motorhome for long.
We stayed at the TImberline Lodges – Juniper Lodge which is actually south of the Fernie Township on the ski hill. Mid-June was a good time to stay there as hardly anyone else was there, but it also meant that many surrounding facilities weren’t open for summer yet. The lodge was a nice place to stay. We stayed in a 2 bedroom / 2 bathroom condo with my parents. The condo had a balcony with overlooked the hot tub area and surrounding forest. The kitchen was well equipped, and the bathroom floors were heated. There was air-con in the main bedroom, which was a good thing because it got really warm in there for some reason; you don’t expect to need air-con when it’s 15 degrees C outside. Bookings to stay here can be made by clicking on this link.
Our adventures in Fernie will be covered in my next post.