Crowsnest Pass is located southwest of Calgary on the border between Alberta and British Columbia. Last fall we discovered this somewhat unloved mining region of the Rocky Mountains. It's windy, chilly, even a little hostile and wild. But we loved the scenery so much that we decided to go back this year.
The place is known for the spectacular and tragic Frank Slide. It is also where local adventurers have established the Minotaur SkyRace. Like many areas in Canada, Crowsnest Pass is trying to promote adventure tourism to diversify its economy.
Last fall we discovered not only a spectacular and rugged playground, but also a small, tightly knit outdoor community.
Our friends Andrew and Troy were happy to show us the good spots like Big Bear, Saskatoon and Bluff. Having both a background in adventure racing, Andrew and I connected immediately and he even lent me his maps and gear for an epic adventure at Gargantua Cave.
This year's trip took us to the top of Iron Mountain, the Minotaur race course on Bluff and Livingstone ridge, the Allison Creek area and Chinook Lake, and the 1946 plane crash site.
In just a few days at “The Pass”, we had the chance to practice quite a lot of international level mountain biking and skyrunning. Hard to beat that kind of experience! and what views! It's like a 360 degree show!
The UROC association has made it their mission to develop mountain biking trails in this area of Alberta and the network is improving every year.
The location is still a well kept secret. Lodging can be difficult to find (there is plenty of room for motorized vehicles though). It's certainly not as touristy or bucolic as Canmore and Banff. But that's what makes it a great place to enjoy the mountains of western Canada on your own adventures without the restrictions of the national parks.
And there's still plenty to discover! Apparently ski touring is insane and Castle Provincial Park is not to be missed! We'll have to go back there!
In short, life is good in Crowsnest Pass!
-Alex Provost, Cycling Avenue Ambassador