The Northern Lights Trail in the Canadian Rockies

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Written by bike posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

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See the Northern Lights in action on this fun itinerary through the Canadian Rockies.

See the Northern Lights in action on this fun itinerary through the Canadian Rockies.


This is a three day trip that will take you through one of the world’s largest oil reserves.  Take Highway 16 east from Edmonton to Elk Island National Park where you can enjoy some of the best wildlife viewing in the Northern Hemisphere.  Elk, bison, deer, moose, and beaver are just some of the creatures that you can spot while hiking one of the many wilderness trails.  Stop at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Center where you will feel like you’ve entered a world from 100 years ago.  Here costumed actors reenact life at the time, surrounded by restored buildings from the period.
Stop in Mundare to visit the Basilian Father’s Museum where you’ll be steeped in Ukrainian culture and lore.  Then on Highway 855, head north to Andrew and then east to Highway 857, turning north.  Once you reach Highway 28, follow this to the junction of Highway 36 where you will be led to Lac La Biche, home of an 1853 mission.  This interesting site was a base for missionaries along the Athabasca, Peace and Mckenzie rivers as well as a supply depot for those using the northern trade route.
Heading north on Highway 831 until Highway 63, you will arrive at Fort McMurray, a former boom town founded in 1790.  Take the tour around the Oil Sands Discovery Centre where you will learn all about oil sand mining.  Then plan on taking the spectacular tour to viewing spots outside the city where you can spend an awe-inspiring evening viewing the Aurora Borealis (otherwise known as the Northern Lights) which are visible from 54 to 90 miles above the ground.
In this magnificent setting, you can enjoy freshwater fishing on the many lakes and rivers.  Six of the area’s seven top fishing lakes are located here, along with lodges and cabins for overnight stays, so make sure you include some overnight time on your holiday excursion.  Enjoy the multitude of hiking trails while you soak up big nature, Canadian Rockies style.
Drive through Athabasca on your way back to Edmonton, stopping along the way in the city of St. Albert where you can visit the restored Father Lacombe Chapel dating back to the early 1860s.
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