Wild West Canada

Step into the Past – Discover Astonishing Historic Sites in Southern Alberta

Step into the Past – Discover Astonishing Historic Sites in Southern Alberta

If you ever need to travel back in time, Southern Alberta is the ideal learning spot. With so many historic sites in the region, we recommend making Lethbridge as your jumping-off point for this journey into the past. Lethbridge is a gateway that unlocks the best that Southern Alberta has to offer, providing unique cultural experiences and nature at its finest. Fall in love with these must-see areas and embark on an adventure in Southern Alberta!

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

As mighty as the name suggests, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site preserving over 6,000 years of Plains Buffalo Culture. Archaeology buffs will dig this historical place as it is one of the best-preserved buffalo jumps in the world. Buffalo jumps were used by the Plains People as a hunting technique to drive buffalos over the cliffs and onto the valley floor. Layers of buffalo skeletons can still be found and the excavated sites reveal their way of life and traditions back in the days.

Through its vast landscapes, exhibits, and programming, you’ll learn more about the cliffs’ cultural significance to the Plains People and why this site is so cherished. Relive the past as you listen to hunt stories told in dance and song, reviving these long-standing rituals. From Lethbridge, this drive is about 50 minutes depending on traffic.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park/Aisinai’pi National Historic Site

hoodoos near Lethbridge

Just south of Lethbridge, Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park is an extraordinary treasure and it’s impossible to describe its magnificence with words alone. The landscape at Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park/ Aisinai’pi took 85 million years to create. This site depicts life for the Aisinai’pi (Blackfoot) people who lived here as far back as 10,000 years ago. Such deep-rooted history is preserved by petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) carved and painted into the sandstone cliffs, caves and hoodoos (which are sandstone pillars). The park also has one of the largest concentrations of rock art on the Great Plains. Be sure to hike the trails (available year-round) where you’ll encounter various landscapes, including upland prairie, grasslands, the Milk River valley, coulees, and hoodoos. You can take free guided tours of this historic site to learn about the people that made this a sacred place for centuries and become enlightened by this remarkable experience.

Visitor Attractions in Lethbridge

To learn and appreciate Lethbridge’s past and culture, we have a couple suggestions that bring history and activities together for one and all. One example is the High Level Bridge, the longest and highest trestle bridge worldwide. This bridge – soaring above Oldman River and Indian Battle Park – was created to establish rail line access for mines as Lethbridge’s population expanded. Critical to settlement and development within western Canada, it looks amazing when lighted up at night and allows you to see the city like never before.

Lethbridge Tressle, highest in the world

Photo: Mary

Another attraction to visit is Fort Whoop-Up, a replica of an original fur trading fort built in the 1800s. During your visit, you can experience a throwback to what life was like in the trading days of buffalo robes, animal pelts, tobacco, and whiskey. Here you’ll learn the complex story of this region that includes the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), other First Nations, Métis, Canadians, Americans, and British. Admission to the Fort also includes a fun wagon ride accompanied by a tour interpreter that takes you through Lethbridge’s river alley. Fort Whoop-Up is easily accessible from downtown so you can spend the morning checking out unique boutique stores, restaurants and coffee shops before you arrive at Fort Whoop-Up to see history come alive.

teepee with sky in backdrop

Where to Stay

Once you’re done rewinding, you can fast forward to relaxation at Coast Lethbridge Hotel & Conference Centre. There is a fitness centre, hot tub, and indoor pool to help you unwind after an eventful day. Enjoy great features and amenities, such as:

● Free Wi-Fi
● Complimentary parking
● Pet-friendly rooms
● Gaming lounge
● Firestone Restaurant and Bar offering a wide range of classic Canadian fare

exterior shot of Coast Lethbridge Inn

If you’re up for a culturally rich and educational exploration, book your stay at Coast Lethbridge Hotel & Conference Centre and see Southern Alberta’s rich history unfold!