The Rocky Mountains
This mountain chain runs northwesterly along the border between Alberta and British Columbia and extends to the Yukon Territory. This vast region, which stretches more than 22,000 km2 (8,495 sq mi), is known the world over for its natural beauty and welcomes some six million visitors each year. Its peaks vary in height between 3,000 and 4,000 m (9,843 to 13,123 feet) and are formed of ancient crystalline and metamorphic rocks shaped by glacial activity. Exceptional mountain scenery, wild rivers sure to thrill white-water rafting enthusiasts, still lakes whose waters vary from emerald green to turquoise blue, parks abounding in all sorts of wildlife, world-renowned ski centres and quality resort hotels provide all the ingredients for an unforgettable vacation.
Southern Alberta features some of the best sights and scenery in the entire province, from Waterton Lakes National Park and the mining towns of Crowsnest Pass, to the historic Aboriginal gathering place at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, and the edge of the endless prairies. The vast expanses and sometimes desert-like conditions you'll traverse while making your way across Southern Alberta are in stark contrast to the looming, snow-capped Rocky Mountains to the west.
Calgary may well be a thriving metropolis of concrete and steel, but it's still a Western city through and through. Set against the Rocky Mountains to the west and prairie ranchlands to the east, this young, prosperous city flourished during the oil booms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1970s but its nickname, Cowtown, tells a different story. Before the oil, there were cowboys and gentlemen, and Calgary owes its original prosperity to a handful of wealthy ranching families. Above all, this city is known for the famous Calgary Stampede.
Central Alberta and Edmonton
Although well known for its gigantic shopping mall, Edmonton also has a thriving downtown area with commercial and cultural institutions that are the envy of many a Canadian city. Central Alberta also contains a vast territory once inhabited by dinosaurs, as attested to by the many dinosaur bones that have been unearthed there. In addition, this region features a mystical landscape of hoodoos, fantastic pinnacles of rock formed by erosion.
Where on earth
With an area of 660,000 km2 (231,678 sq mi), Alberta's territory extends from the province of Saskatchewan in the east, across the long grassy prairies, to the slopes of the Rocky Mountains, with British Columbia as its neighbour to the west. The state of Montana is to the south and the Northwest Territories to the north.