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The Highest Paved Road in Canada Is In Alberta & The Views Will Leave You Breathless

Posted on May 24, 2024 by Britanny Burr

If you love a good view and you’re a fan of a nice, scenic drive, you can’t do wrong with this Alberta route that is a destination in its own right. Highwood Pass sits proudly in Kananaskis Country within Peter Laugheed Provincial Park, boasting the title of the highest paved road in Canada. At a staggering 2,206 meters above sea level, it offers panoramic views and breathtaking mountain tops, that are nothing short of incredible. Whether gearing up to bike or simply revving up for a road trip, Highwood Pass promises an adventure that’s both thrilling and rewarding.

Highwood Pass is more than just a destination; it’s a journey. The pass stretches over 50 km of scenic highway along Highway 40 that winds its way through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The best time to visit Highwood Pass is between June and November when the road is open to both vehicles and cyclists. Cyclists can enjoy exclusive access before mid-June, making it a wonderful car-free experience. The summer months offer fresh green landscapes and truly breathtaking views, while autumn brings a dramatic change of bold colours and crisp mountain air. In fact, this area is known for it’s golden larch trees in the fall. The pass closes each year in December to allow for safe passage of migrating wildlife.

The journey itself is a gift; whether driving, cycling, or discovering some of the wonderful treasures along the way. From Kananaskis Country, travellers can loop south to Longview or begin from the opposite direction. The drive itself can take a full day with stops along the way.

Hikes Along The Way

Highwood Pass serves as a trailhead for some of Kananaskis Country’s most popular and incredible hikes such as, Highwood Meadows, Ptarmigan Cirque, Pocaterra Cirque, and Picklejar Lakes to name a few. From family-friendly Interpretive Trails to more challenging backcountry hikes, the possibilities are endless.

Relax at the Nordic Spa

After a day of adventure, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is a luxurious opportunity you don’t want to overlook. It’s a holistic wellness experience that nourishes the body, mind, and soul. It’s the perfect way to soothe tired muscles, and a chance to unwind and soak in the beauty that surrounds you. Be sure to book early!

Cozy up at Mount Engadine Lodge

For an overnight stay well worth the experience, Mount Engadine Lodge is a hidden gem nearby. The lodge offers a range of accommodations from lodge rooms to glamping tents, all ensuring your stay is comfortable. This rustic, all-inclusive back-country property is equipped with a gourmet dining experience, all while enjoying the surroundings and the chance to spot wildlife right from the lodge’s deck. Even if you’re not staying the night, it’s a great place to stop for a bite and beverage, a wonderful way to spend a day after exploration.

Know Before You Go

Whether biking or driving the pass, preparing for changing weather is important. The high altitude means the weather can change unexpectedly, so bringing extra clothing and emergency supplies are recommended. It’s important to always check trail reports as trails occasionally close for safey precautions or trail improvement. All visitors require a Kananaskis Conservation Pass if you plan to stop along the route.

Highwood Pass isn’t just the highest of its kind in Canada, and it’s a blend of beauty, adventure, and tranquility. The pass shows off Canada’s true colours; from it’s alpine meadows and wildflowers to the jagged mountain peaks. It offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the country with endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Whether you're cycling up it’s challenging vertical or soaking in the views from the comfort of your vehicle, Highwood Pass promises to leave you hungry for more.

Britanny Burr is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Great West Media & Southern Alberta Newspapers Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. The Hot Summer Guide is a special feature about summer activities, bucket list adventures, staycation options, road trips, attractions, events, and road trip-worthy food & beverage destinations across Alberta. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

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