Prairie Past and Present Tours

High River, Nanton, Longview, Okotoks

approx. 2.5 hours
approx. 195KM

This isn’t your childhood fieldtrip (but your own child and inner child will love it just as much as if it were)! Celebrating iconic requirements of life and living in the Prairies in the earlier part of this century, the stops on the Prairie Past and Present tour will far exceed your expectations. Leave your skepticism behind and hop in your car or on your motorcycle or whatever means of transportation you prefer. We plan to surprise you. Well suited to daytrippers of any age and any budget.

Explore farming and agriculture, discover the story behind this area being central to the entire Commonwealth air training fields for World War II, have a little taste of cowboy life (and campfire coffee if you are lucky), explore one of the largest glacial erratics (The Big Rock) and relax and eat in Old Towne Okotoks.

Explore three centuries of Cool Little Town and surrounding country life through museums, outdoor experiences, murals and art walks… and cool country dining like in a vintage rail car.

  • Looking for an Alberta heritage moment you haven’t experienced before?
  • How about all this in one day – investigating a grain elevator, learning how the air command central of Canada was in your backyard and becoming a cowboy for a day?
  • What about breaking some stereotypes of what cowboy country really is with some great museums, history and culture of farming, ranching and how some of our Cool Little Towns came to be?

We recommend these really cool historical sites and cafés or casual dining along the way:

  • High River: The New Downtown featuring new Historical Mural Walk (15 total!), Museum of the Highwood, The Whistle Stop Café. Downtown High River, Rotary Park – Statue tribute to George Emerson situated at the gateway to the Rotary Park on 1st Street and 5th Ave. Recognizes history of High River Icon.
  • Nanton: Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre, Museum of Miniatures, The Nanton Candy Store, Wild Thyme Café (all located in or near the popular Antique & Art Walk of Alberta)
  • Longview: Bar U Ranch (former working cattle ranch maintaining a real cowboy experience), Longview Jerky Shop, Twin Cities Hotel & Saloon
  • Okotoks: Big Rock Erratic (between Black Diamond & Okotoks), Old Towne Okotoks including Okotoks Museum and Archives (OMA)

Other tour options you may like:

Driving Time: approximately 30 minutes
Distance: approximately 42 km

1. Take Hwy 2 (continuing south).
2. Turn west (right) on 498 Ave into High River.
3. Turn left (south) onto 96 St. E (becomes 5 St NE/SE).
4. Turn right (west) onto 3rd Avenue into DOWNTOWN HIGH RIVER.
5. Turn left (south) onto 1 st St and Park.

Recommended Stops:

  • High River’s New Downtown – Historical Murals
  • Museum of Highwood
  • The Whistle Stop Café

Leaving from South Calgary, start your day out on the AB-2S by heading to High River’s New Downtown. The Historical Murals make for a nice walk around downtown. Here you can check out the beautifully restored old railway terminal building, Museum of Highwood, and then casually view the menu that everyone’s whistling about at the Whistle Stop Café.

Driving Time: 20 minutes
Distance: 30 km

6. Head south on 1 st St.
7. Turn left (east) onto 12 Ave.
8. Take roundabout – 2 nd exit onto 12 Ave (Hwy 2A).
9. From right lane, merge onto Hwy 2 south.
10. Turn right (west) on 16 th Street into Bomber Command Museum parking lot.
11. Travel to 20 th street for free parking for other stops or turn right (north) on Hwy 2.

Recommended Stops:

  • Bomber Command Museum of Canada
  • Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre
  • Museum of Miniatures
  • Wild Thyme Cafe
  • Nanton Candy Store.

Walking around Nanton feels like stepping into a Western movie. If you admire the grain elevators that are slowly disappearing all over Alberta tour the Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre. Check out the memorable Bomber Command Museum which houses the famous Lancaster and countless antique stores that line the street. Wonder over to the Museum of Miniatures, grab some Italian cuisine at the Wild Thyme Cafe where everything is made from scratch.  Finish this prairie town with some ice cream while you take a gander of the wall to wall candy at Nanton Candy Store.

Driving Time: 18 minutes
Distance: 24 km

10. Turn left (east) on 18th Street/Hwy 533.
11. Turn left (north) on Hwy 2.
12. Turn left (west) on Hwy 540.
13. Turn right (north) on 88 St/ Range Rd 291
14. Turn left (west) to BAR U RANCH.

Recommended Stops:

  • Bar U Ranch
  • Longview Jerky Shop
  • Twin Cities Hotel & Saloon

Head towards Bar U Ranch for a former working cattle ranch maintaining a real cowboy experience. Wonder to Longview Jerky Shop and taste a little historical tradition of how jerky kept the native North Americans, explorers, and early travelers nourished. While driving these beautiful but isolated roads look for the Twin Cities Hotel & Saloon. The saloon is this little place sandwiched in a renovated hotel. With its memorable  decor and truly delicious food, it’s a great stop for some grub.

Driving Time: 29 minutes
Distance: 36 km

15. Head west from Bar U Ranch and turn right (south) on 72 St.
16. Turn right (west) on Hwy 540.
17. Turn right (north) on 88 St/ Range Rd 291
18. Turn right (north) on Hwy 22 to LONGVIEW.

Driving Time: 24 minutes
Distance: 30 km

19. Continue north on Hwy 22 to Black Diamond.
20. At 4-way stop turn right (east) to Hwy 7.
21. Travel 9 minutes/12 km on Hwy 7 and turn left into BIG ROCK parking lot.

Recommended Stop:

  • Big Rock Erratic

Make the route a loop by learning about how the glacier has moved such a big rock, Big Rock Erratic, to this spot on Ab-7 E.

Driving Time: 13 minutes
Distance: 12 km

22. Leave parking lot and turn left (east) on Hwy 7 (becomes Hwy 2A).
23. Turn left (north) on 32 St.
24. Turn left (west) onto N Railway St/ Township Rd 204.
25. Park on left at OKOTOKS MUSEUM and ARCHIVES

Recommended stops:

  • Downtown Okotoks
  • Okotoks Museum and Archives

Finish this tour by heading to Olde Towne Okotoks. This is a collection of unique businesses in the heart of Okotoks where you’ll find quaint shops, restaurants, salons and mainstream treasures including the Okotoks Museum and Archives.

Driving Time: approximately 20 minutes
Distance: approximately 22 km

26. Continue left (west) on N Railway St. onto Elizabeth Street.
27. Turn right (north) on Hwy 2A.
28. Take Hwy 2 South exit.