Pincher Creek, Basecamp to Rocky Mountain Food

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The communities of Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass invite you to come explore this August and September via #BucketlistAB. That invite comes not just comes with epic southern hospitality, but with a sustainable approach to its tourism offerings.

Andrew Penner

My instructions were clear and concise. At 6:30 a.m. be at the front gate. “We've only got one chance at this,” said Brad Bustard, owner of Thanksgiving Lodge & Ranch, an idyllic Alberta ranch located approximately 20 minutes outside of Pincher Creek. “When I open the gate, 1,600 head of cattle are going to make their move. The entire herd will be on the move. You need to be there and have your camera gear ready.” I obeyed the instructions. And had one of the best mornings of photography I've ever had.

Basecamp to Rocky Mountain Food, Pincher Creek #BucketlistAB

When it comes to classic Alberta imagery, Thanksgiving Ranch is about as good - as iconic - as it gets. Nestled in the rolling, poplar-peppered foothills at the base of the rugged Rockies, it doesn't get much more “Alberta” than Thanksgiving Ranch. Cattle, mountains, pristine lakes, rolling ranch land, tall-grass prairie, it's all on display at this luxurious, cowboy-country outpost.  

Pincher Creek
Photographer: Andrew Penner

Naturally, guests at Thanksgiving Ranch – there's a rustic timber-framed lodge and barn situated in the heart of the 3,600-acre property – can totally embrace the “western” way of life while on their quiet (unless the cows are on the run!) and secluded getaway. The ranch, which can host as many as 16 people for a minimum stay of two-nights, is ideal for small groups, corporate outings, or, really, anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the stunning natural beauty of Alberta ranch land. Some of the popular activities at the ranch include horseback riding, swimming (there is an indoor heated pool), fly-fishing in the creek that meanders through the property, and hiking. The trails at nearby Waterton Lakes National Park and nearby Castle Mountain Provincial Park are world-renowned.

Pincher Creek
Photographer: Andrew Penner

If canoeing, wind-surfing, kayaking, or trout fishing on a gorgeous mountain lake sounds appealing, it doesn't get much better than Beaver Mines Lake. Located approximately 20 kilometres west of Pincher Creek, the Beaver Mines Lake Provincial Recreation area is a little slice of heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. The park also boasts numerous lakeside campsites that are ideal for anyone looking to “get away from it all” for a weekend of outdoor fun.  

While in the area, a tour through the town of Pincher Creek is also highly recommended. Not surprisingly, the town, which is ground zero for the ranching industry in Alberta, is home to some of the best Alberta beef you can buy. The logical choice when it comes to buying your prime cuts? Pincher Creek Meats. 

Pincher Creek
Photographer: Andrew Penner

A family-owned and operated business since 1986, Pincher Creek Meats custom-makes a variety of meats including sausage, ham, bacon, beef jerky, and Alberta AAA beef.

After checking into my motel on my first night – the cool and quaint Stardust Motel, which features newly renovated rooms, a brand new bar and restaurant, and an outdoor barbecue pit – I met up with the owner of Pincher Creek Meats, Vincent Yost, his wife, Shana, and a few of their friends for a prime rib steak feast I won't soon forget. The little red barbecue shack at the back of the motel was the perfect setting for our epic meal. 

Local rancher and former NHL player, Dean Kennedy, was also in attendance. His ranch, Kennedy Ranch, produces AAA, seasonal grass-fed, sustainable Alberta beef that rivals anything in the world. 

“Tonight you're going to eat about the best beef that money can buy,” said Kennedy as we dove into the mouth-watering steak, which was exquisitely seasoned and grilled by Yost's head butcher. It only took one bite to confirm that Kennedy's statement was spot on.      

When You Go

Uncover all of the above #BucketlistAB experiences to be had in one of most gorgeous areas. 

Book now and go, visit Pincher Creek's official website.

Time it for a visit into Pincher Creek for Friday noon, so you can stock up via their weekly farmers market.  Through September 2019 being harvest season and all, there will be tons of local veggies to go with that steak!

Pack your growler and your taste for adventure, Oldman River Brewery is just down the road, slide in for a Blind Canyon Blonde to wash down all the local Rocky Mountain chow.

Hit the road to explore Alberta's South along Highway 3 this month and be sure to share your discoveries on social media with the hashtag #BucketlistAB and #ExploreAlberta - you could be featured on our social media channels.  Check out for itineraries, stories and lots more video on Southern Albertan experiences.

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