This article is part of our #BucketlistAB campaign – allowing you to string together an assortment of destinations across Alberta’s south for a road trip you won’t soon forget. Start here www.BucketlistAB.ca and be sure to use the tag #BucketlistAB and let us know how the travels are going!
ANDREW PENNER for #BucketlistAB
Brooks, AB - After tipping back a pint at the just-opened Piston Broke Brewery (and, yes, there might be a little play on words in their name), I realized that the city of Brooks in the County of Newell was starting to grow on me. And, while new craft breweries typically win me over when I open the door and the friendly barkeep says “hello,” Brooks has much more going for it than tasty beer. The world-renowned badlands just to the north of town, for example, are an attraction worth traveling days to see.
Located in the heart of southeastern Alberta – approximately 180 kilometres east of Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway - Brooks is an oil & gas and agricultural stronghold, if there ever was one. The city, which has a population of approximately 14,000, is surrounded by oil fields and acres of golden wheat. However, as the grassroots folks who reside there will be quick to point out, there are many other draws.
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Visit the beach for water-based adventures
While beer and badlands were definitely the focal points on my recent early-spring visit, tourists flock to the area in summer to recreate at nearby Lake Newell, which Travel Alberta touts as one of the province's best kept secrets. Located 14 kilometers south of the city, Lake Newell is one of the largest and warmest man-made lakes in the province. Fishing, sailing, canoeing, beaching, swimming, SUPing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, and camping at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park, which is located right on the lake, are all popular activities. The lake is also home to the Lake Newell Resort, which features a marina, concession, and boat launch facilities.
Another popular attraction for visitors to the area is the historic Brooks Aqueduct. Built over 100 years ago by the irrigation division of the Canadian Pacific Railway, this massive concrete structure soars high above the prairie and spans a shallow valley that is just over three kilometers long. At the time of its construction, it was the largest concrete structure in the world. It was used for over 30 years to provide irrigation to nearby farmland. A stop to admire this engineering marvel won’t take long but any civil engineer in your group will appreciate the site.
After loading up on coffee and fresh, home-made brownies at The Steaming Cup (perhaps the coziest little craft coffee shop in Southern Alberta!), I made my way to the badlands at Dinosaur Provincial Park. Halfway to the park I made a quick stop to poke my head through the door at the famous 105-year-old Patricia Hotel (a legendary watering hole oozing with authentic Alberta charm) and vowed I'd come back to do it justice. But the road – and the badlands! - were calling. And they didn't disappoint.
I’m diggin’ those dinosaurs