The Cowboy Trail RV Road Trip
The Cowboy Trail showcases some of the best scenery Alberta has to offer. It’s also a great road trip for RVs with tons of campgrounds and activities along the way. The Cowboy Trail runs from Lundbreck to Mayerthorpe, spanning nearly 600 kilometers with mountain, foothill and prairie scenery. This drive typically takes 6 hours 10 minutes without any stops or traffic. It’s a good idea to make this drive a true road trip or do it in sections, as there are lots of interesting and beautiful places to explore.
We’ve included the route, points of interests, and a few suggestions of where to camp along the way.
Route Details of the Cowboy Trail RV Road Trip
The Cowboy Trail follows Highway 22 from Lundbreck to Mayerthorpe. Lundbreck is just over an hour drive from Lethbridge or two hours from Calgary. Mayerthorpe is just over 1.5 hours drive from Edmonton. Of course, you can join the route at any point.
The Cowboy Trail is paved with one lane each way, although there are some passing lanes. There are gas stations along the route or slightly off it. Be cautious of animals and the possibility of very high winds in certain sections of the highway.
Things to Do on the Cowboy Trail RV Road Trip
We’ll start in the south and work our way up north on the Cowboy Trail.
- Lundbreck Falls – A short walk to these lovely falls on the Crowsnest River.
- Maycroft Provincial Recreation Area – Take in the foothill scenery with a picnic or enjoy canoeing, kayaking, fishing or geocaching.
- Porcupine Hills Public Use Zone – Check out the OHV trails or hike the easy Porcupine Hills Ridge Trail just off the main Highway 22 route.
- Chain Lakes Provincial Park – Enjoy the lakes with power boating, water sports, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. This is a great place to stop for a picnic, geocaching or to watch for wildlife!
- Bar U Ranch National Historic Site – With tons of activities, heritage ranch buildings, and lots of animals, the Bar U Ranch shows you how a real ranch works and makes a great stop on the Cowboy Trail.
- Longview – This rustic town is famous for its jerky (Longview Jerky Shop) and steak (Longview Steakhouse – reserve in advance). There are some great restaurants, galleries and shops filled with handmade items.
- Okotoks Erratic – A quick side trip off the Cowboy Trail brings you to the Okotoks Erratic, a remnant of the glaciers that used to cover this area.
- Black Diamond – Check out Hard Knox Brewery or one of the many delicious restaurants, beautiful art galleries and fantastic shops in this little town. Check out the classic diner or soda shop for an extra treat!
- Friendship Trail – A paved path suitable for walking and biking between Black Diamond and Turner Valley. It’s got great scenery and takes about two hours to complete the 4.5 miles.
- Turner Valley – Known as the birthplace of Alberta’s petroleum industry, the Turner Valley Gas Plant is a great place to learn about this history. You can also check out Eau Claire Distillery or one of the other great restaurants or shops in the town.
- Millarville – The Millarville Racetrack often has something going on including horse racing, horse shows, and farmer’s markets. Spirit Hills Winery is also nearby.
- Brown-Lowery Provincial Park – Is a day-use only park located near Millarville. There are beautiful views of the front range Rocky Mountains and rustic trails to explore. A great scenic side stop on this road trip!
- Rothney Astrophysical Observatory – Located right on the Cowboy Trail, the Observatory often holds public events.
- Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area – Just off Highway 22, this is a fantastic place to go for a walk and take in the gorgeous foothill landscape. There are a few trails, mostly very easy and accessible for families. There is now a $10 parking fee that goes towards conservation.
- Bragg Creek and Bragg Creek Provincial Park – Boasting excellent mountain biking and hiking trails in the park and surrounding area, you can stop at Bragg Creek for some delicious food or hard-earned ice cream after your adventures.
- Cochrane – Explore the downtown and have a bite to eat at one of the many amazing restaurants or cafes. You can also check out some of the many unique shops, take a walk around the Cochane Ranche Historic Site, or explore the pathway system for a bike ride or hike.
- Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary – Located just west of Cochrane, this is a must-see if you love animals. Learn about wolfdogs and take a walk in the gorgeous foothills landscape.
- Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park – To the east of Cochrane, this gorgeous provincial park is a great stop for a picnic or to explore on foot or bike. There are nearly 40km of paths and great views.
- Sundre – Stop at Sundre’s Pioneer Village or Snake Hill Recreation Area to learn more about the area and stretch your legs. Snake Hill has biking and hiking trails while Pioneer Village offers 8 heritage buildings and insight into what life used to be like. There are some good cafes and restaurants in Sundre, too!
- Rocky Mountain House – Be sure to visit Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, with its many activities, interpretive trails and bison!
- Crimson Lake Provincial Park – A hugely popular park for a good reason. Enjoy the park’s lake with swimming, kayaking, canoeing, power boating, and water sports. Or you can hike or bike the trails, participate in the interpretive programs, fish, or go geocaching.
- Medicine Lake Provincial Recreation Area – Enjoy power boating, fishing, canoeing or kayaking on the lake or check out nearby OHV trails.
- Buck Lake Provincial Recreation Area & Calhoun Bay Provincial Recreation Area – Buck Lake offers a variety of lake activities, geocaching, fishing and is a great place to enjoy nature.
- Drayton Valley – Visit the Drayton Valley Museum, farmer’s market, and check out the local shops.
- Pembina River Provincial Park – Go tubing on the Pembina River or simply enjoy the lovely riverside park.
There are many golf courses and adventure sport tours available along the way, too. If you explore off the route, there are many more incredible provincial parks and tourist attractions nearby.
Once you’ve reached Mayerthorpe and the Highway 43 intersection, you’ve completed the Cowboy Trail!
Where to Stay on the Cowboy Trail RV Road Trip
There are many places to stay with an RV on or near the Cowboy Trail. Here are just some of your options (starting in the south and going north):
- Lundbreck Provincial Park Campground – Offers unserviced and powered sites. Bring your own firewood and potable water; pit toilets are available.
- Maycroft PRA Campground – Unserviced campsites with prairie views. Bring your own water; pit toilets are available.
- Chain Lakes Provincial Park Campground – Stay in an unserviced or powered site. There is potable water, sewage disposal, pit toilets, a concession, and a playground at this campground.
- Tales & Trails Campground – Located in Longview, this campground offers 19 powered sites. There’s also potable water, flush toilets, showers, and a sani-dump.
- Turner Valley Municipal Campground – Stay in an unserviced or powered site. Bathrooms with showers and flush toilets are available.
- Gooseberry Campground – Near Bragg Creek, this campground offers powered and unserviced sites, a playground, pit toilets, water, and a playground. You could also stay in the nearby McLean Creek Campground.
- One Spot Crossing Campground – Unserviced sites that bring you back to nature.
- Ghost Station Campground – Located just west of Cochrane, this campground offers a convenience store, heated washrooms with showers, potable water, laundry services, sewage disposal, and free wifi.
- Spring Hill RV Park – This campground offers all the amenities with an on-site gas station, liquor store, and convenience store; coin-operated showers and laundry; wi-fi; playgrounds; trout pond; and large, powered sites.
- Bottrel Store & Campground – With powered sites, affordable rates and a convenience store, this is a great place to stop in.
- Westward Ho Campground – A beautiful campground with lots of activities and on-site amenities located near Sundre.
- Rustlers RV Park – With treed full-service sites, this campground is a lovely place to stay while you explore the area.
- Sundre River Resort – This 160 acre campground offers fully serviced sites, hiking trails, and many amenities and activities at the campground.
- Raven River Hideaway – Dry camping with bathrooms (with showers) on site. Great for groups.
- Clear Springs Campground – A private campground offering powered sites, tons of amenities, and even a private golf course!
- Cow Lake Campground – Located on Cow Lake, this campground offers unserviced sites. There is a beach, boat launch, walking trails, coin-operated showers and laundry, and more amenities available.
- Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site – There is a campground available at the National Historic Site, showers and firewood are available for purchase.
- Crimson Lake Provincial Park – The provincial park offers two campgrounds: Crimson Lake Campground and Twin Lakes Campground. The former offers power and unserviced sites, convenience store, laundry, sewage disposal, flush and pit toilets, showers, a playground and interpretive programs. Twin Lakes offers unserviced sites, pit toilets and a boat launch.
- Rustic River Resort – This private campground offers fully serviced sites and a ton of activities.
- Medicine Lake Campground – Offering unserviced sites, a boat launch, playground, and pit toilets, this is a quiet campground to enjoy the forest and lake.
- Buck Lake Campground – A small campground with unserviced sites and excellent fishing. There are pit toilets and a boat launch.
- Calhoun Bay Campground – Another campground on Buck Lake, there are unserviced sites and pit toilets. You must bring your own water and firewood.
- Kay-Son RV Park – Located just south of Drayton Valley, this campground offers full service and powered sites, playground, splash park, laundry, showers, and more.
- Elevated Experience Camping – This campground has everything you need with food, activities, and amenities. A beautiful campground!
- Pihtokwe Campground – Offering serviced and unserviced sites, bathrooms, and a playground, this is a great place to stay near Drayton Valley.
- Entwhistle RV Campground – A powered site, firewood, sani-dump, water, flush toilets, and wifi are included in your reservation fee!
- Pembina River Campground – This campground offers unserviced and powered sites. There is a playground, showers, flush toilets, sewage disposal and firewood available here.
We recommend booking ahead for all campgrounds, although some do offer first-come, first-serve sites. Some campgrounds are not open year-round or will have limited services during the off season.
Random camping is also permissible on public land use zones. If you want a break from the RV, there are many hotels, cabins, and bed and breakfasts on this route.
Enjoy your road trip and let us know what your favourite campground, attraction, or activity was! If we’ve missed it, we’ll add it to the list!