High River was founded around its location as being a convenient cattle crossing with the Blackfoot First Nation, but really became notable when the Canadian Federal Government built one of its first Air Force Stations (not yet called “Bases”) in 1921.
High River, Alberta was the epicenter of what was then Canada’s most costly natural disaster, the June 2013 floods. These floods occurred when a storm reversed Alberta’s typical weather pattern of flowing from West to East into the prairies. When heavy rain clouds moved from East to West they bumped into the Rock Mountains and could not climb over them without releasing a torrent of moisture. This concentrated rain combined with snow melt run off caused places like Canmore Alberta (in the mountains) to have severe damage, but no damage was greater than the aptly named High River.
Effected High River residents were offered payment by the Provincial Government for their homes but were told this would not be repeated in future floods. This deal combined with the rezoning of several dangerously low area’s lead many to move to Chestermere, Okotoks and Calgary in stead of returning.
The citizens who stayed have rebuilt a vibrant and forward looking Town. Below are the top 10 reasons to visit High River Alberta:
1 – Maggie’s Diner & Other Movie Sets
This restaurant is a closed set for the TV show “Heartland” shown worldwide. You can walk by the set in downtown High River and peak through the windows. CBC’s production of Heartland began in 2007 filmed in various parts of Southern Alberta but has now formally settled into its High River home. Other current TV series including FARGO sometimes film in High River and many movies including Carolina Moon, Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood) and the “Smallville” scenes for Superman III where shot there.
2 – Whistle Stop Café
This breakfast and lunch restaurant is set in an historic CP Rail dining car connected to the “Museum of the Highwood”. It is open every day but Monday. Check out their website for more information.
3 – Highwood Golf & Country Club
In the small Ontario towns that I grew up in, golf was not king but in Southern Alberta almost every Town has a good quality golf course and High River is no exception. The Highwood is a 22 hole course that was originally built in 1958 but has been enhanced by several multimillion dollar upgrades since. In 2009 it even host the Alberta Senior Men’s Amateur Championship and the Alberta Ladies Championship in 2016.
4- Sport Fishing
Flyfisherman (and women!) are know to be serious and the Highwood River is fly fishing country!
5 – Bob Snodgrass Recreation Complex
This facility offers citizens a visitors two ice rinks, a 25 meter pool and hosts the Highwood Curling Club.
6 – Small Town Cultural Events
High River has many local festivals and events including their “Handmade Market” on Sunday afternoons. If you are planning a trip, take a quick look at the high river community calendar
7 – High River Water Park
This family friendly park is great for kids under 5 years old. It costs just $2.50 to get in during the summer months and families can spend most of an afternoon laughing and giggling and getting cooled off in the hot Alberta sun. Check out the reviews to make sure it is right for your family.
8 – Evanescence Gallery
This gallery of regional artists sells everything from scarfs to jewelry and paintings to candles. It is a great place to find a usable souvenir of this wonderful southern Alberta town.
9 – Birding at Frank Lake Conservation Area
Frank Lake provides one of the best Birding venues in the region. It offers 3100 acres of wetland and 1700 acres of managed habitat. About 200 species of birds call this home.
10 – Camping at George Lane Park
George Lane Park & Campground has all of the amenities you would expect like picnic area’s and dog park, but it also has stage for small concerts / plays and a baseball diamond. Best of all it just a few minutes on foot to Downtown High River with full menu restaurants and other services.
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