Hit the trails at Frank Slide this winter

A SnowSeekers' road trip isn't complete unless the destinations include outdoor adventures, and culinary, learning and cultural experiences. Create your #BucketlistAB itinerary in Southern Alberta..

By DOC POW for #BucketlistAB

Across the province of Alberta, there is a bounty of destinations for stellar snowshoeing, but there is only one where you can snowshoe while literally walking through history.

Crowsnest Pass is a region that has been home to the Piikani and Ktunaxa First Nations dating back 10,000 years. Alberta’s Southwest region, and specifically the region of the Crowsnest, is home to the most concentrated collection of First Nations Archeological sites – over 380 of them. It’s also home to Canada’s largest mining disasters, which is now a tourist attraction that welcomes over 100,000 people each year to experience this massive rock slide.

This winter make the stop at Frank Slide. Learn more here...

Frank Slide

There are a number of trails you can take to explore the area anytime of the year.

In 1903, at around four in the morning, Turtle Mountain experienced a massive fracture in its foundation, resulting in over 90 million tons of limestone (about 1/6th of the entire mountain) came crashing down the mountain, entombing the community below within 100 seconds There were only 23 survivors.

The area around Turtle Mountain and the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre has a number of trails to explore. Some wind you directly through the rubble; rubble that comes with a view and a half. Program coordinator, Myriah Sagrafena has been a lead interpreter with the Alberta historic site for 12 years, her role here is offering up programs like the Frank Slide Survivor Kit, which gives you the chance to get a full understanding on just what went down here.

Frank Slide
Photo: Doc Pow

Frank Slide Interpretive Centre program coordinator, Myriah Sagrafena shares the history of the tragic event with some visitors.

The Frank Slide Interpretive Centre welcomes people from around the world, who want to come anytime of the year to learn from history. “A big part of my job is to share the history and the stories, to meet new people and provide any information on the region,” said Sagrafena. “One of my biggest joys from this job is seeing the reaction of our visitors.”

You really have to see this place to believe it, after hearing Sagrafena’s stories and then heading out into the rubble, it allows you to put yourself back to that infamous night.

Even with 12 years’ experience interpreting this famous site, Safrafena is still uncovering history. “With all the stories of the survivors and those who were lost in the disaster (70), there always seems to be new random facts that come out and that keeps it really interesting for me.”

Frank Slide
Photo: Doc Pow

Myriah Sagrafena from the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, which is open year-round shares some of the history with visitors.

While on site at Frank Slide as part of our #BucketlistAB expedition, I met southern Alberta resident, Ella Lybbert who was exploring the attraction for the first time. Here is Lybbert’s top random facts about the Frank Slide because as she explains, “I just like knowing things – I’m the 'fun fact guru' for the family, so stuff like this is right up my alley.”

  1. Of the 23 people who survived the disaster, two of them died 10 years later in the same mining explosion.

  2. One of the little girls who survived was thought to be thrown from her house as she was found the next morning on top of the rubble, scratch free.

  3. The mountain might fall again. The mountain is under continued watch and monitoring to ensure that there is no further devastation. The First Nations in the region knew this, calling Turtle Mountain for many millennia “the mountain that moves” and never setting up camp or a community anywhere near the mountain’s base.

When You Go

Tours like the Frank Slide Survivor Kit run regularly all winter, best to start your home work here.

Winter for snowshoeing, spring and fall to experience one of the world’s biggest Golden Eagle Migration. Make your own history this fall, experience Frank Slide via its “Run the Rocks” adventure race, Click Here 

Frank Slide is part of the Alberta’s Governments string of historic sites, including Remington Carriage Museum and Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump – pick up an annual pass and explore.

The town of Pincher Creek makes the perfect winter basecamp - booking accommodations here means you can ski Castle Mountain, explore Waterton National Park, showshoe at Frank’s Slide and a TON of other adventures. Read our sample itinerary to get the most out of your trip.

This winter, make the stop at Frank Slide by basing yourself in Pincher Creek. A day trip for some snowshoeing through history here at the Alberta Historic site, complimented by some skiing at Castle Mountain Resort (all within an hour of each other).

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 www.BucketlistAB.ca for itineraries, stories and lots more video on Southern Albertan experiences.

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