Roadtripping Northeast Alberta

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Alberta's northeast abounds with wide-open spaces, pristine lakes, boreal forests and captivating heritage experiences. Explore NEAB this summer!

What makes a great roadtrip? For Kristina Martel and her fiance, Myk Morris, it begins with good company and good music but above all, new adventures. Of course, it’s up to the traveler to provide the first two but when it comes to the latter, northeast Alberta has abundant lakes, wide open spaces and hidden gems to fit the bill for a great roadtrip.

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With busy careers and busy lives, plus planning a wedding, it’s not always easy for the couple to get out the door. So, with two weeks left until their big day, they jumped at the chance to get away for a few days and explore their corner of northeast Alberta. Looping from Metis Crossing up to Athabasca, across to Lac La Biche, then Cold Lake and finally Vermilion, their journey amounts to much more than just a regional roadtrip - it’s a #NEAB tour de force. 

Hitch a virtual ride with Kristina and Myk and you’ll see why you need to make a #NEAB roadtrip this summer. Let's get started!

Edmonton to Métis Crossing - 1.5h
Paddle into the Past, Metis Crossing, AB
Photographer: Jeremy Derksen
Martel and Morris "Paddle Into the Past" in a voyageur canoe at Métis Crossing.


As they roll up to Métis Crossing, Morris and Martel are excited to discover a hidden gem in their corner of the world - Alberta’s signature Métis heritage site. 

“I’m actually Métis myself,” Martel says. “I only found out in the last few years, so I love to brush up on my culture.” With heritage tours of the grounds, crafting, archery, music and dance, Métis Crossing presents a rich way to immerse in Métis tradition. 

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With the Paddle Into the Past experience, the pair try paddling in a voyageur-style canoe on the North Saskatchewan River. The experience is like churning the waters of time, and they leave feeling like they’ve only just begun to scratch the surface here. 


Métis Crossing to Athabasca - 1.5h
Paddle Athabaca paddleboarding tour, Athabasca, AB.
Photographer: Jeremy Derksen
Paddleboard guide Lisa Stocking (of Paddle Athabasca) teaches the couple how to paddleboard.


For Martel, a great road trip has to include new experiences. “You always have to try one thing that’s new. We always try new things and we always end up finding something we love or never knew about.”

Paddleboarding was a first for both, but with a lesson from Lisa Stocking of Paddle Athabasca, it’s smooth sailing. “It is different than sitting down canoeing but once you get the hang of it, it’s lovely,” says Kristina. 

With the sun dancing low on the sparkling waters, the three paddlers drift near effortlessly in the evening calm. “It was very relaxing,” says Myk, “kind of like Zen on a lake, you just paddle when you want and take in the scenery.”


Athabasca to Lac La Biche - 1h
Hiking at Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, Lac La Biche, AB.
Photographer: Jeremy Derksen
Hiking through old growth forest at Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, Lac La Biche, AB.


Early morning in the old growth forest on Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, Alberta’s only island park, was another experience that left the two amazed. “I had no idea it was so big!” Myk exclaims.

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The forest has a mature, peaceful feeling bestowed by the old trees that have lingered here, some for hundreds of years. In one six-kilometre loop on the Old Growth Trail, hikers can admire the ancient stands of forest, walk through saskatoon bowers, stroll over boardwalk and reach beaches and secluded viewpoints for pelican-watching.

Learn how North East Alberta's Metis and Indigenous people used the land by signing up for an experience with Hideaway Adventures, as featured in this past Lac La Biche ZenSeekers' story.

And soak up some time on the water by renting paddleboards from Off Road Rentals to score an even closer look at the thousands of pelicans who make their summer home here.


Lac La Biche to Cold Lake - 1.5h 
Kayaking with Wicked Watersport Rentals at Cold Lake, AB.
Photographer: Jeremy Derksen
Kayaking at Kinosoo Beach, with rental kayaks from Wicked Watersport Rentals, Cold Lake, AB.


Afternoon in Cold Lake is beach time. Kinosoo Beach, the main public beach, is popular for good reason: it’s hard to beat, from the finely sifted sandy beachfront to the volleyball courts, basketball courts, zipline, concession, and watercraft rentals available on site. 

Kristina and Myk get splashy with a couple kayaks from Wicked Watersport Rentals. Almost right away Myk tips over, but the water is shallow and refreshing so it's easy to laugh it off and keep going. There are few things as soothing as a sunny beach day.


Cold Lake to Vermilion - 1h 45m
Paddling at Vermilion Provincial Park, Vermilion, AB.
Photographer: Jeremy Derksen
Paddling a canoe from Burnt Rock Adventure Co. at Vermilion Provincial Park.


By the time they reach Vermilion, Martel and Morris have really gotten into their flow. They hit Vermilion Lake with a canoe rented from Burnt Rock Adventure Co., paddling in sync and ready for their next big adventure together.

“It’s just so nice to unplug and feel nature around you,” Kristina smiles, taking in the view of Vermilion Provincial Park from the water. “There’s so much beauty in Alberta and we really do need to explore it a little more. Even in just a few days, it was amazing - we tried so many new things and got to take a step back and really appreciate life.”

“Having time together, just the two of us, it’s nice to reconnect,” Myk adds, “and hidden gems are closer than you think!”

Good company, new experiences and spending time in nature, that’s the stuff of life - and it’s just a quick roadtrip away in northeast Alberta.

WHEN YOU GO

The #NEAB roadtrip loop offers five destinations all in close proximity, starting in either Metis Crossing or Vermilion. 

Starting at Metis Crossing

  • Drive 1.5h from Edmonton to Metis Crossing
  • 1.5h from Metis Crossing to Athabasca
  • 1h from Athabasca to Lac La Biche
  • 1.5h from Lac La Biche to Cold Lake
  • 1h45m from Cold Lake to Vermilion
  • 2h from Vermilion to Edmonton

Starting at Vermilion

  • Drive 2h from Edmonton to Vermilion
  • 1h45m from Vermilion to Cold Lake
  • 1.5h from Cold Lake to Lac La Biche
  • 1h from Lac La Biche to Athabasca
  • 1.5h from Athabasca to Metis Crossing
  • 1.5h from Metis Crossing to Edmonton

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

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