It doesn’t matter how often we ask visitors or residents why they love the region, the answers are almost always the same. It always comes down to the feelings we all get when spending time in a gorgeous natural area and the connections that happen when we get away from the busy life of the city.
The main reasons our guests want to visit the region are:
- The feeling of awe as we enjoy the natural beauty of the region;
- The sense of connection as we share moments with others;
- The pride that comes with challenging ourselves to explore off the beaten path; and
- The ability to get lost in the moment as we spend time away from our daily lives.
Which of these is the most important varies from guest to guest, but a combination of these drives most visits to the region.
What They Want To See And Experience
Even though how visitors engage with the region has changed over the years, what they want to see and experience has remained consistent. Our guests typically mention:
The mountains, including the summits, ridges, meadows and the views from the valley;
- The waterfalls and canyons;
- The lakes and rivers;
- The wildflowers and wildlife;
- The frozen wonders of winter; and
- The people that make this place special.
None of these are unique to our region and that’s OK. Curious adventurers love to learn and go deeper in their understanding of the world. We often hear from visitors who choose to travel to Abraham Lake, Lake Baikal and other similar lakes that what they love is seeing how each of them can be so similar yet different.
How They Experience The Region
Why people choose to come here hasn’t changed a lot over the past 50+ years, what has changed is how they engage with the region. The early years of tourism were about outfitters, hunting, fishing and random camping. The activities drawing visitors in changed in the 1990s with ice climbing, mountain biking, climbing, backpacking, paddling and other adventures leading the way.
The early 2000s saw a push toward establishing Nordegg as a historical destination with the designation in 2001 of the Nordegg National Historic Site of Canada. The potential is still there but with the historic site operating on a limited basis, the lack of history-focused tourism products and the rebuilding of the downtown core this has remained a small niche within our destination.
Another change started to happen in the mid-2010s and accelerated with the pandemic. A lot of the activities remained the same but there was a shift from pushing the limits and reaching summits to enjoying the journey and more contemplative activities. Photography, arts, ice walks, sightseeing, evenings by the campfire and shorter hikes became some of the main ways visitors engage with the region.
Horseback riding, random camping, backpacking and climbing are still an important part of the visitor experience. Each change in activities builds on the work of those that came before, leading to a more diversified destination accessible to a larger population.
How visitors experience the region also changes with the seasons. What matters to visitors in the summer is different than what they look for in January. That’s why we structure most of our work around seasonal themes.
The Odd Season - Spring
March + April
We’re looking back at an awesome winter, wrapping up those adventures we couldn’t fit in earlier before the snow is all gone. At the same time, we’re dreaming of summer adventures and excited for what’s to come. The weather doesn’t help, one day we could be skiing and the next day we can get on the water for a paddle.
Ramp up to Summer
May + June
The views are the backdrop for doing the activities. Hiking, paddling, biking and all kind of outdoor adventures fill the day while the evenings are spent around a campfire with friends.
July + August
This is the time to play outside, have family adventures and spend lazy afternoons relaxing in nature. The days are longer and so are the adventures. It’s less about the hiking, paddling or biking activities at this time of the year and more about the waterfalls, stunning views and wildflowers we come across along the way.
It’s a time of change. For some it’s about trying to finish the list of hikes that was planned in the spring. For others it’s about slowing down to enjoy the fall colours, chasing the moments with a camera and relaxing by the warmth of a campfire. It’s also a time to reconnect with co-workers and plan ahead for the upcoming year.
The Odd Season - Fall
October + November
The first snow is here. We’re excited for the winter to come along with the ice bubbles and frozen waterfalls that are starting to form. At the same time, fall is hanging around making it an unpredictable season where we could hike one day and snowshoe the next.
The Magic of Winter
The magic of the holidays and the fresh snow on the trees put us in a festive mood. It’s time to play outside without pushing our limits. The days are spent taking in the sights of the ice bubbles and winter beauty while the evenings are spent by the fire back at the cabin.
The conditions are harsh but the rewards are well worth it. Amazing sunrise and sunsets, the clearest ice bubbles and majestic frozen waterfalls make us stop to capture the moment.
The days are getting longer and sun warmer. We’re heading back out for longer adventures, pushing a little harder as we play while enjoying late afternoon campfires with friends and family.