Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Budget Adventure Travel

As a first time transplant from eastern Canada to western Canada, I first arrived in the Town of Canmore, situated 1.5 hours west of the City of Calgary, and was totally enchanted by the beauty of the view and lifestyle in this region. It was for this reason I decided settle in the Province of Alberta and call it my new home.

I have not written a post on Canmore. One day I will.

This post, however, is about a place that enchanted me the same way it did when I set foot in Canmore, Alberta.

I love pleasant surprises and stumbling upon unexpected delights during travels. There is nothing more fascinating and enchanting than this, in my opinion. I had, and still do, a motto in life that goes:

One cannot find Magic

Only Magic can find you

It was 10:00 PM on a clear moonlit night when we took the turn off the TransCanada Highway on to Buffalo Trail (Highway 41), the only road that passes through the Hamlet of Elkwater, Alberta. Elkwater is an unincorporated community at the western edge of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. The Buffalo Trail is a meandering two-lane paved road that runs through the wavy hills of the park and ends at Wild Horse, Montana (USA). Our vehicle was the only one on this trail. We were on it for about 20 minutes with no settlement in site. Just the hills, the moon, the sky, and the road. We were getting anxious at this point (did we take the wrong turn-off, did we miss a road-cut, will we run out of fuel). We were all very quiet and tense inside the vehicle.

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Buffalo Trail

I took these series of photos the following day so you get an idea of the road and environment I am talking about. Just imagine it being moonlit at night with nothing else in sight.

Suddenly, our Ford C-Max Navigation system voice comes on to say

“Incomplete map data. Proceed with caution.”

We imagined ourselves stranded in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. We were off the GPS grid now!!

And then BAM! From no where a glistening crystal clear lake appears.

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

The lake at Elkwater

We were so relieved to see the signs directing us to Elkwater. We arrived at the Elkwater Lake Lodge and Resort, where we stayed for the night. We were exhausted after a 5 hour drive from Calgary to Elkwater (it is actually 4 hours driving time but we stopped for dinner at Medicine Hat) and went straight to bed.

The next morning we explored the hamlet and the lodge. Like I mentioned earlier, I love to be surprised and to stumble upon unique getaways. Elkwater is a very quiet place. I emphasize that because there is no grocery store, no school, no community center in there. Just a local gas station and a convenience store with restaurant. The lodge also has a restaurant but it has limited hours of operation and generally not open for breakfast during low season.

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Frozen Elkwater Lake

Why do I think Elkwater is the new Canmore?

  • Serenity
  • Incredible scenery
  • Relaxing
  • Charming
  • Surprising
  • Calming
Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Elkwater Lake

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

The solitary crow on the lake

Mentioned above are some of the words by which I would describe Canmore and Elkwater. But where as Canmore is now an established Town with several tourists passing through it on the way to Banff and Lake Louis, Elkwater is virtually virgin territory, still waiting to be discovered. Although, with regards to the last statement, I was once again taken by surprise by the numerous global visitors to this place. There was someone from Greenland that stopped by!! Who has ever met someone from Greenland? (or Denmark is it?)

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Pin map showing visitors from around the world to Elkwater Lodge

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort lobby

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Lobby of Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Cabins at Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Pepper enjoys the sun at the Elkwater lodge deck

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Even Pepper loved it here

| Traveling with a bunny rabbit |

Our next stop this afternoon was the Birds of Prey Foundation in Coaldale. From there we headed to Lethbridge. The City of Lethbridge is a major urban centre in Southern Alberta. There is a very unique experience here that I recommend everyone should experience while visiting Lethbridge. We checked it out myself for the first time on this trip.

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Ric’s Grill Lethbridge
Source: Daily Commercial News

The town’s former water tower. It was the tallest structure out on the wide open prairies south of Calgary. It was re-designed by a local developer to house Ric’s Grill, a 9,000-square-foot restaurant with two levels for eating and a third as a lounge in the bulbous water tank, which used to hold 500,000 gallons of water 36 feet deep.

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Ric’s Grill Lethbridge
Source: Tripadvisor.com

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Ric’s Grill Lethbridge
Source: Tripadvisor.com

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Sunset view from Ric’s Grill lounge

Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com

Sometimes dear friends, just sometimes, the light falls just right in life

Want to discover more fun things to do in Southern Alberta? Check out exploresouthwestalberta.ca for more information.

Thank you  for taking time to read this post. Blogging is a labor of love. Reader donations in the form of comments or sharing on other social media channels below are much appreciated.

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9 thoughts on “Is Elkwater the new Canmore | Budget Adventure Travel

  1. Pingback: Affordable Caving Adventure in Canmore | Budget Adventure Travel | Larkycanuck's Blog

  2. Pingback: Curated tour of Southern Alberta over a long weekend | Alberta | Canada | Travel Adventures | | Larkycanuck's Blog

  3. Pingback: Pepper, the Calgary bunny, visits Fernie | British Columbia | Canada | Travel Adventures | Larkycanuck.com | Larkycanuck's Blog

  4. What you said about Elkwater is not entirely true. There is the restaraunt in the Lodge, but there is also a building with another restaraunt and a small grocery store. Now it’s nothing like Sobeys but its there for when you need it. And there is the gas station- I’ve even heard they have a little cafe in it(although I don’t know if they still have it) Elkwater has more than the middle of nowhere you make it seem. It has full time residents a golf course, mini golf, boat rentals, and even mountain biking.

    • Oh yes. I intentionally did not specify about local residents since I do not know how local or how often they reside. I figured there might be some grocery store, didnt see one while driving around. But Im so glad you mention this. I will update the post. Sorry if the post sounded like Elkwater is isolated, but my intention is to some extent admire its beauty for the serenity. I only describe my experience and my point of view.

  5. And for stargazers, don’t forget that Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is the first park in Saskatchewan and Alberta to become fully recognized as a Dark-Sky Preserve in North America.

  6. It seems lovely as a retreat. But Canmore is a ski/alpinism town. That’s like comparing apples…. and some fruit that doesn’t Ski, Iceclimb, Mountaineer, Crosscountry ski, Hike, Rockclimb, Canyoneer, Snowboard, Heli ski, or backcountry ski. Poor analogy… but I see what you were going for.

    • Oh Hi Karen. Yes indeed i ignored the whole back country lifestyle of Canmore in my discussion and analogy. It was intentional and indeed not true justice to the place. But I specifically mention the things I find comparable to both places. I dont ski or rock climb so to me Canmore did not appeal from those areas, instead it appealed from the beauty and landscape and serenity. which I found in Elkwater as well.

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