You’ve decided to elope – HECK YA! That’s amazing! And if you’re thinking of eloping somewhere like Alberta, one of the first things you’re probably thinking is – where?
Alberta is a top destination in Canada to elope, because of the diversity in landscape and experience options for those who are choosing to have an elopement. Wherever you’re coming from – Alberta has an experience for you! From mountains, and glacier lakes where you can camp or have your own cabin in the woods, to western towns + badlands to explore and bring out your western side, and more!
To make things easy, below is a list of the Top 10 Places to Elope in Alberta for 2023 (but trust me, there’s always more off the beaten path) . All included is how far away from the closest airport, highlights, things to see/experience, and photos! Some of these are set to be the best places to elope due to their features, the fact that they AREN’T very popular yet, and others that are popular for a reason!
Distance from YYC – 141km (1.5 hrs)
Distance from YEG – 385km (3.5-4hrs)
Distance from Canmore, Alberta – 83km (1hr)
Highlights : Amazing mountain views with more wider freedom to explore. Similar distance to Canmore + Banff, making it ideal for a weekend or extended trip. Capable of being a day trip from Calgary if needed.
Things to know : Busy-ness of trails is dependant on day of week and time of day. A day pass is required and can be bought online here, or a yearly pass if you’re local to the area and want to explore more often! Leave No Trace is highly important in our provincial parks.
Things to See / Experience : Kananaskis Nordic Spa, Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes, Mount Endagine Lodge, Highway 40 Pass between Longview + Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Elbow Lake, and more!
Distance from YYC – 291km (3+ hrs)
Distance from YEG – 272km (2.5-3hrs)
Highlights : much more private and secluded than more popular mountain towns in Alberta, allowing for easier experiences + the ability for more intimate experiences. Lots of cabins + airbnbs available if you are looking for a relaxed experience.
Things to know : Experiences in Nordegg are more focused on outdoor experiences with limited people, different than more bustling towns like Banff and Canmore. The closest National / Provincial Park to Nordegg is Jasper National Park, which is 249km away (3-4hrs)
Things to See / Experience : Jasper National Park, Stix Cabin for accomodations, Abraham Lake
3. Jasper National Park, Alberta
Distance from YYC – 601km (6hrs)
Distance from YEG – 390km (4hrs)
Distance from Banff – 468km (6-6.5hrs)
Highlights : less busy + tourist attractions than Banff, allowing a more private experience while still enjoying amazing mountain views + experiences. Due to the significant decrease of people, wildlife is prominent within the park, along with amazing road trip views between Jasper and Banff (see: The Icefields Parkway)
Things to know : A Parks Canada pass is needed to enter both Jasper National Park, and to drive the Icefields Parkway between Banff + Jasper. Leave No Trace is key to exploring our amazing outdoors. Due to Jasper being a much smaller town, ammenities + accomodations are more limited than others, but include some amazing experiences that cannot be missed.
Things to See / Experience : boat tours and canoeing trips on Maligne Lake, and to Spirit Island,Athabasca Falls, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the Icefields Parkway
Distance from YYC – 122km (1.5hrs)
Distance from YEG – 268km (2.53hrs)
Highlights : guaranteed for beautiful summer evenings and a different textured lanscapes where the prairies meet the wild west. With canyons and rivers to explore, along with golden farm fields, dirt roads, and hoodoos to experience. A perfect day trip from Calgary
Things to know : Drumheller is a small town, where most like to experience it for a day of two, then keep exploring the province! Its a hub of experiences with learning about fossils and dinosaurs as well, with the Royal Tyrell Museum being a huge hit in the town. Drumheller also enforces Leave No Trace in its canyons, and while exploring its hoodoos.
Things to See/Experience: Royal Tyrell Museum, Horseshoe Canyon, Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park, The World’s Tallest Dinosaur
5. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Distance from YYC – 272 km (2.5-3hrs)
Distance from Lethbridge, Alberta – 123km (1.5hrs)
Highlights : Amazing mountain views, with a lake that crosses the US border into Montana. Allows for the ability for extended trips into or out of the states. Quieter mountain town with good food, and wildlife abundant.
Things to know : The Town of Waterton is primarily open in the summer months (May – Oct) due to whether, and lack of tourists during the winter season. So keep this in mind during your planning process. Leave No Trace is also prominent due to the amount of wildlife, and preserving our natural resources
Things to See/Experience: Bears Hump Hike, backpacking to Bertha Bay, canoe and boat rentals, Bison Paddock, amazing food from Pizza of Waterton
Distance from YYC – 57km (45min-1hr)
Distance from Lethbridge, Alberta – 175km (1.5-2hrs)
Highlights: the feel of west is strong when visiting the area of Longview. With ranches, cowboys and free range cattle, the prairies truly meet the rockies in Longview. With the are a lot quieter than more known areas of the mountains in Alberta, it allows for wider landscapes + getting off the beaten path. There are also a few venues that have incredible views of the foothills and the mountains where you could have your elopement!
Things to know: the town of Longview itself is very small, with limited amenities. There are very few accommodations, so the trip to Longview might have to be a day trip from Calgary!
Things to See / Experience: Highway 40 drive through Kananaskis, Willow Hill Lodge for a venue, Longview Jerky Shop
7. Banff National Park, Alberta
Distance from YYC – 115km (1.5hrs)
Distance from YEG – 396km (4hrs)
Distance from Canmore, Alberta – 10km (10min)
Highlights: What isn’t in Banff! Views, incredible accommodations + food, hikes, and more! Banff is what everyone thinks of when they think of the Canadian Rockies, and there are tons of options for places to explore + start your own adventures! There are unique trails + accommodations for all skill types
Things to know: High tourists seasons include June-September, and December-January, so keep this in mind when dreaming up the perfect spot for your elopement. Also, Moraine Lake (one of the most popular spots in Banff) is only open from end of May, til beginning of October!
Things to See/Experience: Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon, Mount Norquay, the Banff Gondola, Sunshine Ski Resort, Banff Ave for accomodations + food
8. Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park, Alberta
Distance from YYC – 88km (1hr)
Distance from YEG – 388km (4hrs)
Highlights: a quiet area to explore in the foothills on the edge of the rocky mountains. Big landscape views with easy access, with views of the drive showing the southern ranches + farms with mountains in the background
Things to know: Is a much smaller area to explore than other provincial parks. There are several provincial parks that are a close drive with other amazing views as well. There is limited accomodations in the closer towns, but is a very easy day trip from Calgary!
Things to See/Experience: Bighorn Lookout, Sheep River Falls, Turner Valley/Millarville
9. Spray Lakes Provincial Park, Alberta
Distance from YYC – 138km (2hrs)
Distance from YEG – 424km (4.5-5hours)
Distance from Canmore – 40km (1hr)
Highlights: With so many other provincial and national parks close by, Spray Lakes is a great option to add to the list of places to explore while being in the mountains. Some of the most epic hikes in Alberta are in this area, with close access to Canmore, Banff + Kananaskis, along with unique + quieter natural spaces + accomodations
Things to know: Spray Lakes area has grown in popular over the years, so high tourist season in the summer is something to consider when making plans. The road to get to Spray Lakes is also a dirt mountainous highway that needs to be considered + driven safely.
Things to see/experience: Spray Lakes West Campground, Tent Ridge, West Wind Pass
10. Elk Island National Park, Alberta
Distance from YYC – 343km (4hrs)
Distance from YEG – 50km (45min-1hr)
Highlights: a natural space full of unique accommodations, and easy access to forested trails + staying in your own ‘neck of the woods’. A quieter area compared to more tourist-filled natural spaces in Alberta, filled with unique wildlife!
Things to know: East of Edmonton, it does not have easy access to the mountains. However it is close to the city if you wanted to make a day trip! Does not have as many amenities as other national parks.
Things to See/Experience: Elk Island Campground, Glamp Good
Keeping all of these places in mind, there are some things that you need to consider for every elopement. And even though there isn’t as much pressure to planning an elopement as other adventures, you still don’t want to forget the key parts that make and elopement! For more resources on helping you plan your elopement, check out the Top 3 things you Need to Start Planning Your Elopement, and Rumours about Elopements : Squashed.