Crowsnest Highway


The Crowsnest Highway (Hwy 3)

Heritage Tour 

Fort Macleod to Coleman: approx. 95 km (60 mi) 

This small slice through southwestern Alberta bursts with big stories to tell. And you’ll love it for the distinct character of its resilient people and haunting landscapes. 

Founded on coal mining, the five historic communities that make up the municipality of Crowsnest Pass are situated within a few minutes of each other and are great places to explore, not only for the history, but for the beautiful countryside, where the prairies reach for the mountains. 

Come to understand the tragedies, triumphs, booms and busts of Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Blairmore and Coleman on this trip that can easily be done in a day. Drive, park, and take some historic hikes along the way. 

  • From Fort Macleod, head east on the Crowsnest Highway (Hwy 3) for 67 km (42 mi) to Lundbreck at the junction of the Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22). Follow the signs to Lundbreck Falls for a hike and a picnic lunch where the Crowsnest River takes a 12 m (39 ft) tumble to the canyon below. 
  • Back on Hwy 3 west, follow the signs to the Leitch Collieries about 10 minutes – just before Bellevue. Established in 1907, the collieries were one of the largest and most ambitious coal mining operations in the Crowsnest Pass. Stroll around the ruins to see architecture that was ahead of its time or take an interpretive tour. 
  • Head on to Bellevue, the first of the Crowsnest mining towns, built in 1905, on the flat land above the Bellevue Mine. Take the underground tour and learn about the disastrous explosion in 1910 that took the lives of 31 miners. 
  • Just across the highway is Hillcrest, where another tragedy took place: the Hillcrest Mine disaster of 1914. The deaths of 189 men made this the worst mining disaster in Canadian history. 
  • Five minutes down the road is Frank, the site of Canada’s most deadly rockslide. Some 82 million tonnes of rock hurtled down from Turtle Mountain in 1903, partially burying the town below. You can still see the slide today as you drive along Hwy 3. The Frank Slide Interpretive Centre does an excellent job of telling this compelling story. 
  • Another five minutes brings you to Blairmore. Enjoy the self-guided Historical Walking Tour which takes you past many heritage houses and historical buildings. 
  • Eight minutes west is Coleman, the last major stop before crossing the Continental Divide into British Columbia. Visit the Crowsnest Museum, hike the Historic Miner’s Path or hike to Star Creek Falls before returning to Fort Macleod. 


"Standing at the summit of Turtle Mountain looking down and out across the valley, we felt the hair raising on the back of our necks to think of 82 million tons of mountainside crashing down on the sleeping town below." ~ C. Clark, Oklahoma

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