Grande Cache, Alberta ranks #1 on My World Travel’s hidden gems and must see places in the world to add to your bucket list. Located in western Alberta in the northernmost portion of the Rocky Mountains, you’ll discover this amazing town, developed on the plateau of Grande Mountain 1,220 m above see level, delivering enchanting views and offering a uniqueness unchallenged by any other location on Earth.
Enter a land of glistening lakes, raging rivers, lush valleys, and windswept peaks! Adjacent to the town site, you’ll find the pristine Willmore Wilderness Park, a 4,600-square-kilometre wilderness area next to Jasper National Park. There are no roads, bridges or buildings in this park making for a dream horse back riding/hiking adventure destination. Here you’ll find an abundance of trails, large game, alpine flowers, and magnificent streams.
As you first travel to town from the south, the Rocky Mountains start to come into view becoming more magnificent with each passing kilometre. Grande Cache lake offers a stunning back drop as you edge closer and closer to town. You’ll then start ascending a few km up the Grande Mountain plateau with gorgeous views of Victor lake below. As you start to reach the top of the plateau you’ll be questioning whether the town even exists as there is not a single building in site, then all of a sudden, wham! It hits you like you have just entered a new realm. The town suddenly and inexplicitly appears out of nowhere. Grande Mountain, Mount Hamell and Mount Stearn jump out at you like a 3-D image leaving one awestruck.
Travelling to Grande Cache from the north is just as awe inspiring with stunning views as you enter the Smoky River valley. Just prior to town you’ll find the turn off to the infamous Sulphur Gates. This is where the Sulphur River and Smoky River meet offering vantage points to view the magnificent cliffs along this convergence. Sulphur Gates is also the staging area for those horse back riding enthusiasts and hikers to enjoy the pristine untouched wilderness of Willmore Wilderness Park. Also check out Wild Blue Yonder for some amazing white water rafting!
The town offers a multitude of shops, campgrounds, accommodations, restaurants, pubs and multi-purpose trail systems. Not to mention the extraordinary pool at the Grande Cache recreation centre. This pool includes a wave pool, easy flow river, hot tub, water slide and olympic size pool with diving boards, rivaling any recreational facility that you’ll find in the big city. There is something for everyone in this town including hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, golfing, photography, hunting, fishing, horse back riding, running, cross-country skiing and so much more!
Another unique attraction that is a big draw to the area is the Canadian Death Race. This 118 km ultra marathon is one of the toughest ultra marathons in the world and a Western States Qualifier. The community bands together every August long weekend to put on a spectacular show and the volunteers who contribute to the events success work tireless and thankless hours to ensure it flows seamlessly. One famous local may even suggest that these events ‘build character’. If you are an endurance athlete, this event includes a 42km marathon, Half Death Marathon, 125km Ultra & Relay as well as a kids race. The entire weekend is a party for all ages. ‘Deathfest’ as it is often referred to, has even featured the likes of well known bands such as Default, Thornely and many other great artists.
You don’t have to be an endurance athlete to enjoy all that Grande Cache has to offer. The ‘Passport to the Peaks’ program encourages you to get out and hike the numerous mountains that surround this enchanting Hamlet with over 21 mountain peaks in view. There are also a multitude of ATV trails which will take you to the peaks of Grande Mountain and Mount Hamell to enjoy the spectacular views of the valleys, rivers, lakes and town site below.
There are many lakes, rivers and streams around Grande Cache that offer some excellent camping and angling opportunities. Victor lake and Grande Cache lake are in close proximity to town and are frequently stocked with rainbow trout. Travel 20 minutes south east of town and you’ll arrive at Pierre Grey lakes provincial park. Pierre Grey, like Grande Cache is a hidden gem in itself and offers some of the best camping opportunities in all of Alberta. For more information visit the Grande Cache tourism website. What are you waiting for? Plan your trip and explore all that Grande Cache has to offer today!