Begin this tour on the Crowsnest Highway #3, at the Alberta and British Columbia border. This less travelled, southern route through the towering Rocky Mountains is a giant gateway to the great outdoors. Explore the Elk Valley’s small towns built on more than a century of coal mining: Sparwood, Elkford and the largest and oldest – Fernie.
Head west on Highway #22X to Highway #22, known as the Cowboy Trail.
Highway #22 junction to Turner Valley and Black Diamond is 30 km / 19 mi.
Black Diamond to Nanton is 94 km / 58 mi.
Nanton to Cardston is 142 km / 88 mi.
Cardston to Waterton Lakes is 50 km / 31 mi via Highway #5.
Take time to tour Waterton Lakes National Park. The smallest of the Canadian Rocky Mountain National Park is described as the Jewel in the Crown of the Continent. Home to plants and wildlife unique in Western Canada, it is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Highway #6 and #3 lead back to the BC / Alberta border (113 km / 70 mi).
There are several small former coal mining communities with a fascinating history to explore along this route.
After driving past Coleman, you leave Alberta, cross the Continental Divide and enter the province of British Columbia.
Sparwood is the gateway town to the region. The Terex Titan, the world’s largest tandem axle dump truck, stands silently at the town’s entrance – a monument to Sparwood’s major industry. Just beyond this community is a treasure trove of adventure.
Sparwood to Elkford is 35 km / 22 mi north on Highway #43.
Elkford is ‘Wild at Heart’ and the most remote town in the region. It is the gateway to two majestic wilderness provincial parks: Elk Lakes and Height of the Rockies. The area is a popular destination for a range of outdoor recreation including ATV touring, hiking and mountain biking.
Sparwood to Fernie is 29 km / 18 mi south on Highway #3.
Fernie boasts small town charm and big mountain adventure. The brick and stone facades of the historic downtown are nestled below the jagged peaks of the Lizard Range. Fernie offers a huge network network of mountain biking and hiking trails, a bike park, a zip line, fishing, whitewater rafting and more.
Fernie to Elko is 32 km / 20 mi south on Highway #3.
You’ll follow the pristine Elk river that is famous for fly-fishing and other water-sports. The views and wildlife are just as rewarding.
Elko to Fort Steele Heritage Town is 63 km / 39 mi north on Hwy #3/93.
Fort Steele to Wasa Lake Provincial Park is 25 km / 15 mi.
Wasa Park is a family destination with camping, sandy beach, and a biking and walking trail that circles the lake.
Travel north on Highway #93/95 to Invermere (90 km / 56 mi).
Invermere is a small, friendly town situated on Lake Windermere, one of the warmest lakes in the region. Spend the day at the beach, but be sure to explore the impressive shops, galleries and restaurants downtown.
Travel through spectacular Kootenay National Park, (104 km / 65 mi) north on Highway #93 – check out the Golden Triangle Driving Route for details on park attractions. Once through the park, connect with Trans Canada Highway #1 and head east through Banff, the longest established national park in Canada. Banff to Calgary on Highway #1 is 136 km / 85 mi. En route is the picturesque mountain town of Canmore.