Life Along the Cowboy Trail

Ranchers in southwestern Alberta enjoy spectacular scenery, a rich heritage and the perfect environment for doing what they love.

People visit Alberta for many reasons. Some seek art, entertainment and cuisine. Others long to be close to nature. Those who live the western lifestyle look for all these opportunities, seasoned with horses, history and cowboy culture. You’ll find all this and more along the historic Cowboy Trail – a rancher’s paradise. One of Canada’s best kept secrets, this 435-mile highway extends from Cardston on the south to Mayerthorpe on the north. The scenic byway, situated along the foothills, where rolling prairie meets the rugged Rocky Mountains, winds through some of the most pristine ranch country anywhere. It also follows the routes used by cattle drovers, Charles Russell, and outlaws and horse rustlers, such as the Sundance Kid, in the 1880s.

Along the way, you’ll see an abundance of wildlife, big stacks of freshly baled hay, locals parked along the road shooting the breeze, multiple generations of cowboys and family members horseback, driving cattle to distant pastures, and relics of the province’s Old-West heritage. Although most Alberta ranchers would just as soon keep their quaint cowboy communities clandestine, the ones WH spoke with during a recent trek to southwestern Alberta said they wouldn’t mind giving you, our readers, a glimpse into the life and lore along the Cowboy Trail.

Note: For the scope of this article, we concentrate on highlights from the southern part of the Cowboy Trail, from Calgary to Cardston. However, there’s much more to see in this area, as well as along the route’s northern section.

Read the complete story in the March issue of Western Horseman.