Photo Credit: KJL

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Alberta’s inspiring views and breathtaking landscapes will leave you with photographic souvenirs to last a lifetime. From larger-than-life wildlife, to the ancient glaciers and the legendary turquoise lakes on which they feed — the natural wonders of outdoor Alberta are unlike anywhere else in the world.

Alberta is the easiest way to see the most majestic glaciers and icefields, some over 100,000 years old. The Columbia Icefield is most famously known as the largest mass of non-polar ice in North America at about 200 square miles. As the last of the great sheet of ice that once encased most of Canada, it now covers a high plateau between Alberta’s tallest mountain (at 12,293 feet) Mount Columbia and Mount Athabasca. At the Athabasca Glacier, the most visited glacier in North America, you can sip melted ice water directly from the ground. If you want to hike, the Plain of the Six Glaciers trail is a relatively easy trek that lends itself to the most panoramic views of mountains and, naturally, six glaciers. If traveling by car, take a ride down Icefields Parkway, one of the most scenic drives in North America, a highway running 143 miles through the rugged terrain between Lake Louise and the town of Jasper.

As you roam through the grandiose ice fields, take in the legendary turquoise lakes they have created and continue to feed. The beloved Lake Louise in the world-famous Banff National Park is one such body of water, as it gets its beautiful emerald look from the glaciers that surround her. And a sun-rise view of this lake with the Victoria Glacier beyond it is among the most breathtaking sights in North America. Bond alongside the grizzly bears, elk, mountain goats and big horn sheep who call this their home. It is not unusual to find a variety of species moseying in their natural habitats. Much of area remains immensely untamed, as seen with carpets of wildflowers that breathe life into the land.

The best way to experience the natural wonders of the Albertan outdoors is by staying in a back-country mountain lodge. Situated in secluded areas, you’ll enjoy getting home as much as you’ll enjoy the sweet all-inclusive hospitality. The Sundance Lodge is a cozy 10-sleeping room option that is about 16 kilometers from Banff. The route to this log gem is on a trail considered to be easy to moderate, and best of all, all meals prepared in the traditional country kitchen are included in your stay. Built in 1930, The Skoki Lodge is a national historic site, also nearby Banff National Park. Just 11 kilometers from Lake Louise, the lodge also connects to five other adjoining valleys. And finally, adjacent to the national park is the Mount Assiniboine Lodge, accessible only by helicopter or on a 28-kilometer hike or ski trail. The helicopter ride itself, with the beautiful view of the Great Divide on the border of Alberta and British Columbia, is perhaps enough reason to stay at this rustic home.