Hey, you awesome peeps!
Are you interested in travelling to southern Alberta but you're not sure if you can find a not-so-crowded-history-filled destination to go to? I know it's specific, that's because they are my favourite places to travel to.
This week I'm going to share a tiny bit about a little-known gem in the Alberta Rockies, the Crowsnest Pass. I'm making this into a multi-part series because there's just that much to see! When travelling in Alberta, most opt to go towards Banff and Jasper, don't get me wrong these places are majestic but also crowded. I don't do crowds at all.
As you're travelling west on Highway 3, the first attraction you'll notice is the Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site. Admission is by donation, the site is open as soon as the parking lot is snow-free, and the washrooms are closed outside of its core season (May 15 through Labour Day, during these dates you can find interpretive staff). Take a stroll through the 0.8km wheelchair-accessible self-guided interpretive trail and imagine life in the early 1900s for these mining plant workers, including the top boss's house! Special events are presented during heritage festivals.
Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site
During the visitor season from May to September,
for enquiries, phone: 403-564-4211
If you're like me, you prefer going on adventures where the masses aren't going.
The Crowsnest Pass is a municipality made up of 5 little towns: Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Blairmore and Coleman. Each town has its own history with a lot of it being centred around mining. With activities like camping, hiking, golfing, fishing, skiing, climbing, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing and with a sense of community I haven't seen since I left New Brunswick, there's bound to be something you'll fall in love with too. Oh and art. Everywhere. It's beautiful, it brings everything to life and I love it.
My favourite part of the Pass has to be the walking trail, called the Crowsnest Community Trail it spans 23km and connects the communities together, partly paved, with other parts being gravel or natural surfaces. Be aware of your surroundings and use at your own risk, you are in the mountains and bear country. Along with bears, you can also expect to see golden eagles, elks, deer, wild turkeys, mountain lions, even wolves. So just be safe, I'm not trying to scare anyone, I'm always out and about and I've yet to see most of these close to civilization. I did have some turkeys in my yard a few times, it was pretty cool to watch the pair. For more information on the trail, check out the Crowsnest Pass' website for a map of it!
In this post, I'll share some places to see in the Bellevue area, which is the most eastern town in the Pass, along with Hillcrest. These towns are located on the east side of Turtle Mountain.
Coal mining has always been a big part of Alberta's history and its abundance is evident. It began in the very early 1900s with the last mine closing in 1983. There is still some mining going on but not so much in this area. It's amazing how these five little towns overcame the reality of becoming a series of abandoned town. The cool part is that you, the traveler, can still see and experience scores of reminders of the past in this area, from ruins to closed mines!
Having so much history in a small place is really cool, it's like living in harmony with the past in a weird but fascinating way.
When you find yourself in Bellevue, Alberta be sure you book some time for a tour of the Bellevue Underground Mine, being one of the last authentic mines available for exploration, I strongly suggest you go. Opened year round, it's really interesting and you'll learn some pretty cool things. The cost is reasonable and affordable, bring a warm jacket because it's always freezing cold down there, even in the summer. Here's the info you need if you're interested in this tour, and be sure to give them a call BEFORE you come! I wouldn't want anyone getting here and the office is closed.
NOTE: The map indicates the entrance to the road that leads to the mine tours. You will have to go down a hill and at the bottom is the mine tour, which can be seen from Highway 3.
As you explore around Bellevue, you'll notice some pretty cool murals! Follow me on Instagram if you would like to follow along with me as I explore the area.
Grab an ice cream at the local shoppe, sit at their tables outside, relax and take in the artistic view. If you're hungry, grab a bite to eat at Marie's Poutine House! Only open from April to September, this place serves the BEST fries and poutines around! Check out their Facebook page for all the information you might be curious about.
Don't forget to visit the coolest looking gift shop, Crockets Trading Co., for Christmas they had a huge 7.5ft grizzly bear statue complete with beard and Santa hat standing outside the front door, it was pretty epic. You can find them at the eastern entrance into Bellevue, can't miss them.
The best way to enjoy the nightlife here in the summer is to build a campfire and connect with nature. For this area of the Pass, you can set up camp at the Crowsnest Pass Municipality campground which is located just east of Bellevue, on Highway 3, next to the Trading Post. There's a lot of cabins, campgrounds and motels/hotels inside the Pass, but most are located in the other small towns so check back in or sign up because I'll be covering the other four, Hillcrest is just across the highway and Frank is right beside Bellevue, we will go there next. I'll tell you about two mining disasters, ghost stories, kayaking adventures and hiking trails!
Would this be somewhere you'd like to travel to? What mountains do you live nearest to? Tell me in the comments, I always love hearing from you!
If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them!