Pincher Creek for us, was our base to explore Waterton Lakes National Park.
This area is known for its "Chinook winds" which I think we may have experienced.
The surrounding area has a lot of Wind Turbines, and is also a gas & oil mining area, plus, big on farming.
As we headed out of town towards the Crows Nest pass, we saw a lot of extremely well done "cut outs" in the paddocks, at first glance, they looked real!
I had checked accommodation, and found staying at Pincher creek was much cheaper than staying at Waterton Lakes.
Our Motel was good, and there are plenty to choose from.
Just a short drive to Waterton Lakes.
Windmill Capital of Canada
After leaving the area of the Frank slide, we back-tracked east and south as we continued toward our destination of Waterton Lakes National Park. It so happened that our route took us through Pincher Creek, an open area of gentle hills at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains - known as the windiest place in Canada thanks to the winds that roar down out of the peaks!
Because of the fairly reliable and strong winds characteristic of this part of Alberta, it was in the forefront of windpower developments in Canada, presently having more than 100 wind-generator towers up and running. Although many of these are the older smaller versions of a few hundred kWatts each, some of the newer sites are installing more modern designs of 1600 kWatts and up. Windpower is finally taking off in Canada, although it still trails far behind Europe in that regard. I was amazed at the rows of towers running off into the distance no matter where you looked.
Getting to the Rockies in BC & Alberta
To drive from Vancouver to Calgary is about a 9-10 hour trip in good weather. (via the Trans Canada Highway #1) which goes through Kamloops, Revelstoke, Golden, Banff and Calgary. Driving distance: approx 640 miles or 1024 km
The alternate route is via the Yellowhead Highway #5 and #16 which can be reached from Kamloops ( which is a "divisional" point...going east from Kamloops takes you on the Trans Canada while going north from Kamloops takes you on the Yellowhead) via Clearwater, Blue River, Valemount, Mount Robson, Jasper. Driving distance: approx. 930 km. to Jasper. This is the easiest route to drive. Driving distance of the Icefield Parkway Jasper to Banff is approx. 280 km.
The alternate route is Highway 99 from Vancouver to Whistler, Lillooet, Cache Creek and Kamloops.
Did I say there was a third route? That's the Crowsnest Highway #3 which begins in Hope, BC, just 150 km east of Vancouver and goes through the southern part of the province: Hope, Princeton, Keremeos, Osoyoos, Grand Forks. Castlegar, Salmo, Creston, Cranbrook. Continuing north from Cranbrook on Highway 93 will take you through to Radium, Lake Louise and Banff. If you continue east from Cranbrook on Highway 3, it will take you through the Crowsnest Pass to Pincher Creek, Alberta from which you can drive north to Calgary.
Either way will be a fair bit of driving. (Canada is a BIG country!)
The month of May could mean encountering snow in the higher passes although they are open all year.
The cost of fuel in BC: be advised, it's getting expensive and is expected to rise dramatically in the next few months.
Wind energy Capital of Canada
The chinook winds that blow through the Crowsnest Pass are harnessed by hundreds of wind turbines. As the winds come over the mountains, the air is compressed and this results in very rapid temperature rises... an nice relief from the bone chilling cold that winter can bring here. Winds can reach more than 80 mph.
Most of the wind turbines are mounted on Cowley Ridge west of Pincher Creek with a few others scattered around the Crowsnest Pass, Cardston and as far east as Lethbridge. Another major installation sits atop the ridge just south of Magrath by the Jenson Reservoir
The Nordex N60 is equipped with stall regulation and produces a nominal output of 1.3 megawatts. With a rotor diameter of 60 meters (197 ft.), these turbines can be operated between wind speeds of 3 m/s and 25 m/s (6.7 to 56 mph, or 10.8 to 90 km/hr). At both Cowley North and the Sinnott Wind-plants we have installed the CCV turbine, a special version for cold climate. The nominal operating speed for this turbine is 15 m/s (33.5 mph or 54 km/hr). The N90 has an output of 2.5 megawatts
This turbine has the Nordex control automation software for the control and visualization of all relevant system data. A great deal of detailed information can be obtained from this system about how the turbine is operating from remote access.
The generator, gearing and many other components are attached in such a way that vibrations are either not transmitted or are muffled, which reduces noise emissions. Helical gearing of all gearwheels also reduces the noise level of the gearbox.
The nacelle is supported by a 43.1 meter (141.4 foot) tube tower which is made of steel. The nacelle with hub weighs 58.5 t., while each blade weighs 5 t., and the tower weighs 68 t. The blades are constructed from fibreglass with a lightening receptor in the blade tip. Hydraulic pressure holds the blade tips in position and when the machine stops it looses hydraulic pressure causing the blade tips to deploy by centrifugal force. Each blade is 29 meters (95 ft.) long.
This is a completed turbine tower, standing about 140 feet high. The blades are about 30 meters long and rotate at about 100 rpm in an average wind.
"WHAT WE DID IN ALBERTA"
After travelling around British Columbia, we passed into Alberta from Revelstoke to Banff.
At BANFF, we stayed at the excellent Odenthal's B&B for 3 nights.
Our 1st day was spent travelling the Bow Valley where we stopped nearly everywhere enroute, we walked, took photos, there was so much to see in a day, and all so beautiful.
Johnston Canyon was fabulous, Lake Louise, was a little wet, so we didn't see it at its best, but hey!.....the Gondola ride gave us some great views!
Moraine Lake was the same, wet weather, what a pity, pity we couldn't change the weather.
Our final stop on the way home was at Mt. Norquay, more fantastic views over Banff and surrounding mountains.
This was an excellent day!
Day 2, and off to Lake Minnewanka where we saw Big Horn sheep grazing and sleeping on the road. This was the 1st time we had seen them close up.
There were some pretty lakes here with good reflections of the surrounding Mountains.
We continued onto Canmore, a recommendation by our B&B hostess, and we were not disappointed.
At Calgary, we stopped at the site of the Olympics, and we saw our 1st ski jump, are they high!!!!
From Calgary, we headed through open prairies, to a very unusual landscape of Hoodoos near Drumheller.
Were we on the moon?
Dinosaurs roamed here years ago, so we went and had a look at the excellent and cheap Royal Tyrrell museum, this would have to be one of the best!
We saw some little old towns and lots and lots of oil wells. At our B&B at Munson, we learnt that Alberta was an extremely rich state to live in.
Heading to Waterton National Park, we passed Wind farms, a small "Star Wars town," we saw some huge dairies, these were so different to our neighbour's at home in Australia.
We stopped at Fort Macleod and had a look at the Fort, and learnt about the role of the "Mounties."
The Head-Smashed In buffalo jump is 18ks from here, a world heritage site and very well done. I found it most interesting.
We then continued to Pincher creek for a couple of nights at a Motel.
Pincher Creek was a cheaper base to stay and go to Waterton Lakes.
Waterton Lakes was stunning, hardly a tourist here, Deers roaming the streets, it was "drop, dead, gorgeous."
After seeing the Prince of Wales Hotel on so many travel shows, I eventually saw inside it!
On the road again, this time passing through Crows Nest Pass in heavy rain, so didn't see the views I had read about, but at least the Lundbreck waterfalls were good because of the rain, I can't have everything!
Here, we headed into British columbia for a little while then came out at Jasper.
Jasper, still raining, but did manage to see some incredible scenery.
I have never seen so much water (we live in the driest continent on earth) So many glaciers, so beautiful around here and quite a bit of wildlife too.
What we saw of Alberta was beautiful.
Windmills at Pincher Creek
Cut outs in the paddock at Pincher Creek
Wind turbines on Cowley Ridge