Things to do in Pincher Creek, Alberta

Written By: The Planet D

Pincher Creek is a small town in Southern Alberta that is the jumping off point for Waterton Lakes National Park which is about one hour away. It is a place where the prairies meet the Rocky Mountains and it is an absolutely beautiful setting. Wind farms line the plains with stark mountains filling in the backdrop and cattle graze in the fields and giant bales of hay dot the landscape. It is the Quintessential Alberta travel destination.

Pincher Creek Alberta

pincher creek fields
The beautiful Pincher Creek

We loved having the freedom to drive around from place during our road trip through Alberta to see all the tourist stops. Pincher Creek ended up surprising us on our Alberta Road Trip and being able to drive to each sight was an amazing experience. One thing about travel in Canada is you must have a car is a must. We have a huge country and every province is very spread out. So, do as the Canadians do and drive! Read more: 60 Best Road Trip Songs to Rock the Drive

Pincher Creek is a 2 hour and 15-minute drive from Calgary and is worth seeing on any Alberta road trip. Also read: 21 Best Things to do in Calgary, Alberta

Burmis Tree

pincher creek burmis tree
The Burmis Tree in Crows Nest Pass

Our favourite site happened by chance as we were driving to Crowsnest Pass. The Burmis Tree was a site we caught by accident out of the corner of our eye as we passed a group of bikers taking a look.

This tree welcomes travelers entering “The Pass” and is the symbol of endurance for the people of the region. This Limber Pine Tree has stood on this site for seven centuries.

Unfortunately, this tree died in the late 1970s and eventually toppled over in 1998. However, it had become such a symbol of Crowsnest Pass that the community rallied together and stabilized the tree.

There are now stainless steel brackets anchoring the roots and a pipe inserted into the trunk to give it support. I’m really glad that they did this as the tree is an ominous site that is fitting for this historic place.

Frank Slide

pincher creek rocks
The site of the Frank Slide in Crows Nest Pass near Pincher Creek

Crowsnest Pass is home to the deadliest rockslide in North American History. It is believed that over 90 people were killed during the deadly rockslide here on April 29, 1903.

Dave and I noticed a valley of giant boulders and rocks as we drove by, but we thought it was a path left by an ancient glacier retreat. It wasn’t until we visited the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre that we realized that this was from a rock slide in recent history.

It’s incredible to see the force that Mother Nature has. 82 Million tons of rock fell from Turtle Mountain and partially buried the town of Frank. To stand at the lookout point and view the massive river of rocks is a terrifying sight.

The people who lived on the outskirts of town didn’t stand a chance and were instantly buried by the momentum of the rock plowing through the river.

Lundbreck Falls

lundbrek falls pincher creek
The beautiful Lundbreck Falls

Just down the road from Crowsnest Pass as you make your way to Pincher Creek, is a turn off for Lundbreck Falls. I will be honest with you, these falls are really not spectacular in person, but they do make for a beautiful photograph.

When we got there, they weren’t very large or impressive and I told Dave to make sure that he doesn’t take a deceiving photo like the ones we saw online. We want people to know what they are coming to so that they don’t detour out of their way just for these falls. As it turns out, you just can’t take a bad photo of the falls.

It is an area of great historical significance though and many dinosaur and prehistoric bones have been found in the vicinity. It was just a few km away from here that the most complete specimens of a T-Rex was ever found and it is now on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. Read more: Things to do in Drumheller, Alberta

So our recommendation is, if you are driving along Crowsnest Pass and are in the area of Pincher Creek, make sure to stop for a look. If you are somewhere else that will take you out of the way, don’t make a special trip.

Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

pincher creek teepee | head smashed in buffalo jump
Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

Okay, I’ve been wanting to see this place since I wrote an article called “Strange, Funny and Odd Names of Canadian Towns” that I wrote when I first started blogging. I hadn’t been there at the time, but the name “Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump” definitely caught my attention.

It turns out that this location is not a town at all. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there is a community of farms and ranches around it, but a town, it is not. Instead, it is a historical site where early prehistoric plains aboriginal people hunted buffalo. Also read: The Most Beautiful National Parks in Canada

They would herd the buffalo towards this cliff and create a stampede where they were forced to jump over and fall to their death. You may also like: 72 Funny And Interesting Facts About Canada

It is believed that this site was used for over 5,700 years and has a pile of bones and artifacts 10 metres thick! An estimated 50 million buffalo used to roam these planes, but with the white man came the usual death and destruction and within a few years, the buffalo disappeared to the point of near extinction.

Buffalo of Waterton

buffalo reserve
The Buffalo Reserve just outside Waterton National Park

You can see buffalo roaming freely just outside the park boundaries of Waterton Lakes National Park in a reserve that you can drive your car through. It’s very cool to see a herd of buffalo in the semi-wild, but it is tragic to think that they are no longer.

When I think about what North America used to be I envision it being like the African Savannah filled with wildlife. We had plenty of bears and big cats, buffalo, mountain sheep, wolves, and foxes. It really was an extraordinary eco-system.

Our ancestors took all that away, but its beauty still remains in Alberta and with the many nature preserves and conservation areas, you can still catch a glimpse of the historical past and if you are lucky, like us, a cougar or two just may cross your path.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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24 thoughts on “Things to do in Pincher Creek, Alberta”

  1. Wonderful pictures and comments about an area I lived in for 35 years. Always enjoy visits back to this area to visit friends.

  2. Yeah!!!! You’ve visited my hometown! If you drove to Lundbreck, you would have seen my farmland (at the intersection of highway 3 and the turn to Pincher Creek) and the house at the top of the hill from Pincher Station is my aunt and uncles. I never would have thought about the “many sights” as I grew up there so fun to see it from your perspective. Was it windy when you were there? Lundbreck is the windiest spot in North America – it was actually a question on Jeopardy.

  3. OMG, those pictures are pretty amazing! especially that Lundbreck Falls. seriously, how does it feel like to be a couple traveler? i envy both of you. haha

  4. Great post and GORGEOUS photos as always! I too always like to think of how the great American West looked like before the Europeans came in and settled it….Imagine the thousands upon thousands of buffalo that would roam in just one herd and the way a person would feel when they’d see them all galloping on the plain in front of them!

    • I know eh? This place was filled with wildlife and we destroyed it all. As we stood at that lookout, I imagined millions of buffalos migrating and all the wildlife that lived in the land and I felt sad. It took only a few years to wipe everything out. Another thing I forgot was Bald Eagles. Think of all the eagles that flew through the air.

    • I’d love to do that too. We used to see so many RVs traveling through Canada, now the price of gas has made it difficult, but car camping is always an option too. That’s probably the way we’d have to do it.

    • Thank you! It’s a beautiful part of Alberta for sure and so much history! I love how there are lot of sights to see in the area too.

    • Thanks Jimmy. Photography is Dave’s passion and he’s amazing at it. Also, Alberta is pretty photogenic so it always helps to have a great subject to photograph.

  5. Absolutely beautiful territory! I have driven through the same areas, though not in many years. With that said, I have never forgotten passing by the sigh for Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump!

    • Ha, It’s definitely a name you can never forget. I always wondered what it was all about. Now that I know it’s an aboriginal site, it makes a lot more sense.

  6. Love this series of photos – I lived in Montana for two years and drove over to Alberta… felt like I’d never left home; it was just as pretty and everyone was just as friendly. If you ever go through Lethbridge, stop at the Red Dog Diner for Poutine. *big grin*

    • Thanks Maria. We’ve yet to be to Montana, but now that we’ve visited Southern Alberta, it has moved way up on our list. While learning about the history of ranching and cattle, we see that Alberta and Montana had a great history together. I can imagine that it is exactly as you say. Beautiful and friendly. We’ll be sure to stop in Lethbridge next time for sure! Always love Poutine, yum!