New Sarepta to Strathmore: approx. 357 km (222 mi)
“OK, everybody, this is a holdup!” The antique steam train jerks to a halt in the middle of the Alberta prairie. The ‘Reynolds Raiders’ outlaws storm aboard. I’d been looking forward to our buffet lunch, but no time for that now…
Life on the Boomtown Trail is never dull. The trail’s two main highways, 21 and 56, form a long rectangle between New Sarepta in the north and Bassano in the south. This prairie-parkland corridor offers a pleasant alternative to the busy Hwy 2 route connecting Calgary and Edmonton.
Explore small towns featuring the boomtown architecture for which the trail is named. Visit the many attractions and quirky sights along the way. Throw in a picnic and a swim at a lovely provincial park, a local museum or two, and you’ve got a perfect summer day.
- From Edmonton, head south on Hwy 21 for 51 km (32 mi), through New Sarepta, then east 46 km (28.5 mi) on Hwy 13 to Camrose – where thousands of country music fans convene every August for the Big Valley Jamboree. Tour the historic downtown and check out the Camrose Railway Station Museum.
- Continue east on Hwy 13, and head south on Hwy 56 about an hour and take a side trip east on Hwy 53 to the town of Donalda. Look for the world’s largest lamp at a whopping height of 12 m (42 ft). Steps away is a collection of 850 road lamps – the largest in North America!
- Back on Hwy 56, go south to Stettler, where choices include a tour of the Town & Country Museum (26 heritage buildings!), or take a trip aboard the Alberta Prairie Railway. The train winds through picturesque countryside to the village of Big Valley and back (5-6 hours). Includes lunch – and a train robbery! Visit the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame.
- From Stettler, go west on Hwy 12 about 10 minutes to Erskine, then north on Hwy 835 about 20 minutes to Rochon Sands Provincial Park. Swim in the warm waters of Buffalo Lake and have a picnic on the sand.
- Back on Hwy 12, head southwest on Hwy 21 for a total of 58 km (36 mi) to Delburne. A must-see is the Anthony Henday Museum, which features a replica pioneer cabin and former railway water tower with four floors of exhibits.
- Continue south through the towns of Trochu and Three Hills to Strathmore, then west on the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) to Calgary.
Download the free Boomtown Trail app at iTunes