If You Go: The Cowboy Trail

Westerners feel right at home along Alberta's Cowboy Trail. Here are some don't-miss spots in the Canadian province's ranching country.

 



Keep in mind that there's much more to see and do in this area, and as you head north. For a Cowboy Trail travel guide, contact the Cowboy Trail Tourism Association, 866-627-3051; www.thecowboytrail.com; or Travel Alberta, 800-252-3782, 780-427-4321; www.travelalberta.com.

Shopping

Cowboy Country Clothing Ltd., Nanton, Alberta: Owned by Maynerd and Shawna Byrd, this western store is chockfull of western goods, and they offer small-town service and hospitality. Contact: 877-646-3133, 403-646-0007; www.cowboycountryclothing2.com.

Daines Western Shops, Innisfail, Alberta: A chain of family-owned western stores that specialize in western wear, tack and rodeo gear . Contact: 403-227-2636; www.northernhorse.com/daines.

Frontier Western Shop Ltd., Claresholm, Alberta: A family-owned and operated western store for more than 25 years, Frontier Western has a huge selection of gear, saddles, boots, western home furnishings and apparel. Store owners Stuart and Brenda Derochie outfit cowboys from all parts of Canada. Contact: 800-661-7939, 403-625-2777; www.westernshop.com.

Terra Cotta Dudes Pottery and Gallery, Black Diamond, Alberta: This family-owned studio and gallery featuring locally made pottery, woodwork, artwork and crafts. Contact: 403-933-5047; www.terracottadudes.com.

Food

Heidi's Food & Saloon, Longview, Alberta: Stop in this diner for breakfast, and you'll likely see local ranch hands finishing their cups of coffee.

Ian Tyson's Navajo Mug, Longview, Alberta: Named after the local cowboy entertainer, this quaint coffee and ice-cream shop is a great place to stop for a snack and western souvenirs. And, yes, Ian occasionally can be seen there.

Twin Cities Hotel & Saloon: Reminiscent of an Old West watering hotel, this local hot spot serves up hard-to-beat burgers and beer. If you're lucky, you might catch an impromptu jam session with local cowboy poets and entertainers.

Lodging

Bent Creek Ranch, Fort Macleod, Alberta: Gerry and Kathy Karchuk, 866-553-3974; www.bentcreek.ca.

Circle 6 Guest Ranch, Claresholm, Alberta: Charlie and Sherry Ewing, 403-625-2157; www.circle6ranchgetaway.com.

Lucasia Ranch, Claresholm, Alberta: Wayne and Judy Lucas, 877-477-2624, 403-625-2295; www.lucasiaranch.com.

Museums

The Bar U Ranch, Longview, Alberta: This historic site preserves one of Canada's premier ranches, which was in operation from 1882 to 1950. Contact: 800-568-4996; www.pc.gc.ca.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Fort Macleod, Alberta: This multilevel museum, located on the site of an ancient buffalo jump, details the culture of Alberta's First Nations people. Contact: 403-553-2731; www.head-smashed-in.com.

Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, Pincher Creek, Alberta: Relive the days of the pioneers at this historic village, and stroll through several original log cabins, including the Waldrond Ranch House, filled with old-time artifacts. Contact: 403-627-3684; www.telusplanet.net/public/kootenai.

Remington-Alberta Carriage Center, Cardston, Alberta: Home to the largest collection of buggies and carriages in North America, this interpretive center shows how horse-drawn vehicles influenced settlers' lives in the 19th century. Contact: 403-653-5139;www.remingtoncentre.com.