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Alberta, Badlands

Alberta's Buffalos and Badlands

13-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,655 pp incl. flights


Short description

Combine Alberta's Wild West heritage and myriad natural wonders


  • Explore the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta’s Badlands
  • Visit Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, one of the oldest bison-jump sites in Canada
  • Take in alpine beauty of Waterton Lakes National Park
  • Explore Calgary, home to Canada's cowboy culture

In Brief

  • 1 Night Calgary
  • 2 Nights Banff
  • 1 Night Drumheller
  • 2 Nights Elkwater
  • 1 Night Lethbridge
  • 2 Nights Waterton
  • 2 Nights Pincher Creek


Recommended for:
Mountains | Natural world | Self-drive

Alberta is renowned for the soaring peaks, turquoise lakes and mighty glaciers of the Rocky Mountains, the resorts of Jasper and Banff synonymous with this outdoor playground. Less well known are the 'badlands' – a landscape of towering hoodoos and ancient fossils from when dinosaurs roamed the earth. This fly-drive perfectly encapsulates these two, very different regions, beginning with a stay in Calgary, the brash, beating heart of Canada's cowboy culture. It's then on to Banff in the Rocky Mountains before your route takes you south and east to the wind-sculpted valleys of Drumheller – Canada's dinosaur capital – and the prairies and plateaus of Cypress Hills Provincial Park, ending with the lush green valleys and granite peaks of Waterton Lakes. 

Day by day itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Calgary, a place buzzing with innovative energy while embracing its rich western heritage. Enjoy a visit to the iconic Calgary Tower (admission included). Another highlight worth visiting is the Heritage Park Historical Village (admission not included) on the city’s south side, a “living museum” representing turn off the-century Calgary with costumed interpreters, a steam train and scale-model sternwheeler, an old fashioned candy store and much more. In the evening, embrace Calgary’s vibrant entertainment and culinary scene

Stay: Delta Calgary Downtown (Superior)

Days 2-3
Calgary to Banff

Enjoy the scenic two-hour drive from Calgary to Banff, where you'll check into your mountain-lodge hotel followed by a free afternoon to explore at your own pace. Next day you can personalize your day by choosing from a choice of two included excursions, perhaps the famous Banff Gondola, or a serene cruise on Lake Minnewanka.

Stay: Banff Caribou Lodge (Superior)

Day 4
Banff to Drumheller

Depart Banff, heading east toward Drumheller. There's nowhere quite like the Drumheller Valley – Canada's dinosaur capital. Being here will take you into another world - the world of startling contrasts between the deep past and the exciting present. Rolling fields suddenly give way to steep, dry coulees ridged with the strata of hundreds of years of erosion by time, wind and water. To help bring it all to life, we've included entry to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Canada’s largest dinosaur museum, where you can journey through time and come face-to-face with incredible creatures that lived millions of years ago.

Stay: Canalta Jurassic Hotel (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 5-6
Drumheller to Dinosaur Provincial Park and Cypress Hills Provincial Park

A morning tour brings you into the Dinosaur Provincial Park to explore a landscape of ancient fossils, deep river canyons and wind-sculpted hoodoos. You’ll then head south to Cypress Hills Provincial Park, a region of plateaus and plains in Alberta’s spectacular southern reaches. Perhaps hire a mountain bike, paddle board or kayak for a day of independent exploration, or join an interpretive hike before heading to the Camp Cookhouse for an optional gourmet dining experience prepared by a top Canadian chef.

Stay: Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort (Superior)

Day 7
Cypress Hills Provincial Park to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park and Lethbridge

Today’s drive brings you along the Red Coat Trail to the Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, home to the largest concentration of rock art on the Alberta plains. Options abound for exploring this archaeological preserve, with interpretive-centre visits and aboriginal-led hikes bringing you along ancient hoodoo trails and past rushing rivers before your final drive of the day, a short hop to Lethbridge, where you’ll spend the night.

Stay: Sandman Signature, Lethbridge (Superior)

Days 8-9
Waterton Lakes National Park | Exploring

Pausing to visit the frontier outpost of Fort Whoop-Up, whose erstwhile inhabitants of illegal whiskey and firearms traders were ably policed by Canada’s fist Mounties, today’s journey sees you through the Great Plains to Waterton Lakes National Park. Mirroring the vast landscapes of Montana’s Glacier National Park, which itself is just a short drive across the border, this is a vast region of alpine forests, plunging cliffs and soaring peaks peppered by rushing waterfalls and sparkling rivers. It’s best explored on a network of hiking trails that range from challenging full-day treks to gentle lakeside strolls. And, if that all sounds too much, perhaps take it all in with a visit to the Prince of Wales Hotel, famed for its spectacular views and indulgent afternoon teas.

Stay: Bayshaw Inn (Superior)

Days 10-11
Thanksgiving Ranch

Today a short drive north will see you at Thanksgiving Ranch, for an authentic working ranch experience. Nestled up against the Rockies approximately 20 minutes south of Pincher Creek, The Lodge at Thanksgiving Ranch is the ultimate blend of luxury and grassroots Alberta ranching. Think, massive herds of cattle roaming freely on the aspen-flecked hillsides. Rock-lined streams empty into picture postcard lakes that reflect the jagged peaks that frame the property. It’s about as idyllic as it gets. Fill your days with roaming the property, horseback riding, and enjoy gourmet Alberta food.

Stay: The Lodge at Thanksgiving Ranch (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 12-13

Travel north to take in the wonderfully named Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump. Included entry brings you right into this World Heritage site, where a local guided will share the story of the region’s native people and their unique hunting practices. Then, head back to Calgary to board your overnight flight home, arriving in the UK on day 13.



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

13-day tailor-made self-drive
from £2,655 pp incl. flights


May / Oct

from £2,655 pp. incl. flights

Jun / Jul / Aug / Sep

from £3,390 pp. incl. flights

Validity :  May to October


  • Complimentary access to UK airport departure lounge
  • Return flights from UK to Calgary
  • 12 days car hire
  • 11 nights accommodation including 2 nights at Thanksgiving Ranch
  • Admission to Calgary Tower
  • Admission to Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump interpretive centre & UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Entry to Royal Tyrrell Museum
  • Choose between the following included excursions: Banff Gondola or Lake Minnewanka Cruise 

Upgrades to Full Board and Horse riding packages at Thanksgiving Ranch - please ask your consultant for details

Surcharges apply for Calgary accommodation during Calgary Stampede season (05-14 Jul 2024)

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

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