There are any number of definitions of what makes up the “Cowboy Trail” in the province of Alberta in Western Canada. Plugging that name into Google will quickly reveal a large number of maps, definitions, sections and the like. But suffice to say that generally speaking, the road, and it is a road, or maybe a highway is Highway 22, 6, and 22X. Starting from the north at the town of Mayerthorpe, where Highway 22 begins the highway goes south for over 600 KM, all the way to Cardston in the south.
The lower portions of the Trail will pass through a foothills kind of terrain, similar in many ways to prairie, but running parallel to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. I have never travelled the more northern portions of the road, but I have been over the lower sections a number of times. By lower sections, I would include Cochrane as a starting point in the north. It is just northwest of Calgary, on Highway 22, and continuing south through Bragg Creek, east on 22X highway, and then picking up Highway 22 south again. That will take you to Highway 3, and go east on it until you see Pincher Creek and the start of Highway 6 south.
These roads are all excellent to travel on. You will pass through broad valleys where large cattle ranches thrive. You may see a cattle drive. You will often see deer, elk and moose on it. Snow is often found in the area, in early fall, and big snowfalls can come in late spring.
Towns along the way, south of Bragg Creek, include Turner Valley, where the Dingman # 1 first oil strike was made and where you can see an old gas plant, Black Diamond where a number of merchants along the main street offer friendly service in some authentic stores. Longview, further south, has a number of good eating places, and is the home of singer Ian Tyson, (Four Strong Winds) who owns a ranch nearby, and a good restaurant in town. Longview has been the home for making a number of movies in recent years. Clint Eastwood did his Oscar winning movie Unforgiven here. Brokeback Mountain was also partially filmed in the area. Currently Hell on Wheels, a TV western, is filmed just west of town.
A National Historic site is situated just a bit farther south, the Bar U ranch which has Royal connections, in addition to having the Sundance Kid work as a cowpoke for a time. Along the way be sure to look out for the black silhouettes of western life, like those pictured here.
Farther south the ranching continues worked by families that have worked and ranched the area for generations. They are active to this day, and have recently taken steps to preserve the area as it is in perpetuity. Throughout the area, ranch tours, rides, camping and stays are available. Check with Travel Alberta for information as to who where and how much. Google Travel Alberta.
At the end of the trail just east of Waterton in Cardston, there is one of the world’s largest if not the largest collections of horse drawn carriages, nearly all fully restored.
I have only scratched the surface of what there is to see. There is fishing, golf, history at museums, hiking, scenic views, maybe a cattle drive, or even a mine tour. Just a few miles west is another great location to visit, Kananaskis Country. “K” Country, offering horseback riding, fishing, hiking and a lot more.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Have a Great Day, Look after one another!