Cowboy Vacations in Alberta

The Calgary Stampede, Fort Calgary and Brokeback Mountain

This Western province is a favourite holiday destination for visitors who want to experience clear blue skies and wide open spaces.

Spectacular scenery formed one cornerpin of a three-way eye candy tie with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in the 2005 movie, Brokeback Mountain. You can revisit much of the Brokeback scenery by making tracks for Alberta.

Brokeback Scenery High Points

Ennis del Mar and Alma tied the knot at a small chapel in DeWinton, just outside of Calgary.

Moose Mountain (45 minutes west of Calgary) is where the movie’s sheep scenes were filmed.

60 minutes west of Calgary, the alpine community of Canmore served as both a home-away-from-home for cast and crew and, look waaaay up, the Three Sisters mountains of Canmore were shown repeatedly in the movie.

In Calgary, stop for a taste of the west at the Ranchman’s where the bar scene with Jake and Lureen was filmed.

If you want to experience Alberta’s west, you have a number of options available to you:

1. The Calgary Stampede

For 10 days each July since 1886, Calgary pays homage to its Western roots. The centrepiece of the celebration is the rodeo: bull riding, barrel racing, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, roping, and wild pony racing. The fun isn’t limited to the Stampede grounds – the entire city participates and it seems you can’t walk a block in downtown Calgary without coming across a pancake breakfast or a BBQ, many of them free.

2. The Glenbow Museum

Check out downtown Calgary’s Glenbow Museum for an extensive display of western artefacts.

3. Fort Calgary

Travel back to the 1880s in this historic North West Mounted Police post. There’s even a dinner theatre!

4. Bar U Ranch

Take in a cowboy poetry reading or campfire stories while you explore ranching activities of the day at this national historic site.

5. Travel the Cowboy Trail

Beginning in southern Alberta, the Cowboy Trail snakes along Western Canada up to the mountains for more than 700 kilometres of cowboy country.

6. Vacation at a Ranch

Experience ranch life at a number of area guest ranches.

For example, at the Homeplace Ranch , you can expect to feast on ranch cuisine, play horseshoes, or go horseback riding. Homeplace runs working ranch holidays from April to October.

7. Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

Visit the site of an ancient buffalo jump. Interactive displays and demonstrations take visitors back to a time when more than 60 million buffalo roamed the Great Plains and indigenous people used the animals for food and to craft tools.

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