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Alberta's Red Coat Trail Offers Family Vacation Fun from the Prairies to the Rockies. Any part of the famous Red Coat Trail makes an ideal family field trip but the Siege on Fort Whoop Up and the video at Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump make the adventure come alive.  In Alberta the Trail offers crazy, wild fun.  Don’t forget to wear your boots.

We’ve gathered the highlights and provided a little background just in case your history is a little foggy.

From the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan The Red Coat Trail heads west on Highway 501 then heads north on Highway 889 taking a variety of roads before connecting with Highway 3 heading to Lethbridge. Along the way rolling fields of golden wheat frame river valleys and expansive grasslands stretch to each horizon meeting a never ending blue sky. Cattle mark the landscape and pronghorn sheep, white tail deer, coyotes, and eagles may be seen. Rodeos and BBQ, cowboy poetry and contemporary theatre make up the collage that is southern Alberta.

Find Fort Whoop Up. The drama of the frontier is accurately depicted within the replica of Fort Whoop Up. Originally built by American traders on Canadian territory, it was a thriving fort from 1867 to 1890. Roaming the compound today guests will learn about daily life, whiskey traders, power conflicts and the arrival of the Mounties. This was the target location for the 1874 journey along the now famous Red Coat Trail. In the early days the fort residents were intricately connected with Fort Benton in Montana. A hub of frontier commercialism the trading included buffalo robes, pelts, horses and meat for everything from guns to cloth and flour. Whiskey was its downfall. Discovery: Each summer living history re-enactments of the early days serve to highlight the history and drama of Canada's wild western frontier. The highlight is Siege on Fort Whoop-Up from July to the end of August. (Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 4A2.  (403) 329-0444 or

Imagine life under the cottonwoods. Framed beneath the High Level Bridge, The Helen Schuler Coulee Centre is located among the cottonwoods and the coulees along the Old Man River. The Centre introduces visitors to the 200-acre Lethbridge Nature Reserve. The indoor exhibit area features seasonal hands-on displays for the whole family and includes a variety of changing exhibits, interpretive programs and wildlife viewing opportunities. Outside, three self-guided trails lead through the coulees and river floodplain. Discovery: Family walks and children's programs, led by volunteer naturalists, explore this backyard wilderness in the midst of the City of Lethbridge. (910 4 Avenue S. Lethbridge, T1J 0P6.(403) 320-3064 or

Give me a home where Mounties still roam. The Fort Macleod is the home of the Museum of the North West Mounted Police. Visitors may browse nine galleries and enjoy a variety of programs created to depict the heritage of the Mounties and their role in establishing law and order in the Canadian West. To provide visitors with a broader perspective there is also an extensive First Nations collection of cultural artifacts typical of the frontier. Not to be missed: The North-West Mounted Police Musical Ride is performed four times daily during July and August. (219 25th Street, Fort Macleod, T0L 0Z0. along westbound Highway 3.  (403) 553-4703 or

Go where bison once roamed. One of the oldest, largest, and best preserved bison jump sites in North America, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site is an awesome place to behold. The complex includes trails, unique vantage points, and a subterranean interpretive centre that contains displays interpreting the history and culture of the Plains People. Scientific evidence indicates that the location was used for more than 6,000 years, with additional information pointing to occupation of the site as far back as 10,000 years. It is possible to walk along the cliff top and view the jump site and imagine an earlier time. Discovery: Guided hikes to the bison drive lanes, gathering basins, ceremonial site, and the Calderwood jump site are available on a limited basis. (Head-Smashed-In is located 18.0 km north and west of Fort Macleod on Highway 785. Alberta, T0L 0Z0. (403) 553-2731 or

Not to be missed. Red serge and black horses! Representing tradition and ceremony through the horse and the scarlet uniform, the RCMP Musical Ride is a tribute to history and a salute to peace keeping. Each year The RCMP Musical Ride tours throughout Canada, the United States and other international venues, performing at approximately forty to fifty locations between the months of May and October.  (For details

Make it happen.
Call Toll Free in Canada & US. 1-800- ALBERTA or
Reference Text
Macleod, R.G. The North-West Mounted Police and Law Enforcement 1873-1905. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976.
Baker, William. The Mounted Police and Prairie Society 1873-1919. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 1998.
Beahen, William and Stan Horrall. Red Coats on the Prairies: The North-West Mounted Police, 1886-1900. Regina: Centax Books, 1998.
Content by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel  Images provided by Travel Alberta. Copyright updated 2017.