You Need to Visit Alberta's Six UNESCO World Heritage Sites

By: Meaghan Baxter

Reading time: 3 minutes

No matter where you travel in Alberta, you won’t be far from one or more of the province’s famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites – these amazing sites are well worth a visit.

  • UNESCO recognizes over 1,000 World Heritage Sites around the world
  • Alberta has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada
  • You can easily visit all of Alberta’s UNESCO Sites
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Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

Alberta's Rocky Mountains are stunningly beautiful. The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site includes Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, as well as the Yoho and Kootenay National Parks in British Columbia. These parks received the UNESCO designation in 1984. Visiting the Rockies is an amazing experience any time of year. Hit the slopes and do some skiing or snowboarding in the winter. In the summer, explore this vast wilderness by camping, hiking, climbing, whitewater rafting or horseback riding – just like a true Canadian. Or, stay in a resort and enjoy the perfect scenery from the lap of luxury.

Get a bird’s eye view of the Canadian Rockies on a via ferrata assisted climbing experience.

Dinosaur Provincial Park

The scenery throughout Dinosaur Provincial Park is out of this world. Dinosaurs used to roam around this area some 75 million years ago when it was a subtropical paradise. Now it is dry and desert-like, with quirky hoodoos (tall spires of eroded rock) and wind-swept coulees. More than 150 full dinosaur skeletons have been discovered in Dinosaur Provincial Park, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Book a guided hike to experience the Canadian Badlands for yourself – and keep an eye out for fossils along the way.

A little boy runs along rock coulees in the Canadian badlands, with his parent standing behind him.
Walk where the dinosaurs once roamed at Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

This is one of the world's oldest and best-preserved buffalo jumps. Indigenous hunters used the buffalo jump for nearly 6,000 years. You can tour the storied cliffs with an Indigenous guide to learn more about the history and importance of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. Don't miss the on-site interpretive centre nestled right into the cliffside.

A woman walks beside a tipi in an open field with hills in the background.
Explore Alberta’s vast rolling plains at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

Wood Buffalo National Park

The buffalo roam in Wood Buffalo National Park – literally. This remote park in northern Alberta covers a staggering 44,807 km2 (27,842 mi2), making it the largest national park in Canada. That's over twice the size of Maryland. The park, which was named a UNESCO site in 1983, is home to a lush boreal forest and abundant wildlife. Over 3,000 free-range bison live here, along with wolves, bears, moose, owls and the very rare whooping crane. Wood Buffalo is a sky-watcher's paradise as the world's largest dark sky preserve. Stay up late and watch dancing aurora borealis and other wonders of the night sky.

A night-sky image of the aurora borealis in Wood Buffalo National Park
Watch the aurora borealis dance at the world's largest dark sky preserve.

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Alberta's unforgettable mountain scenery goes all the way south to the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The park extends across the U.S. border into Montana. Book a trip with Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co. and visit both countries in a single day. Waterton became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It's an outdoor oasis of sparkling lakes (great for stand-up paddleboarding and canoeing), colourful wildflowers, iconic hiking trails for all experience levels and plenty of wildlife. Don't miss a visit to Red Rock Canyon, Blakiston Falls and the historic Prince of Wales Hotel, which overlooks the expansive lakes for Instagram-worthy views.

Take in stunning views at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai´pi

This park is Alberta's newest UNESCO World Heritage Site and received its designation in 2019. The Indigenous name for Writing-on-Stone is Áísínai´pi, which means “it is pictured / written” in Blackfoot. The area is full of amazing hoodoos and is very important for many Indigenous cultures, who have visited here for over 10,000 years. There are many Indigenous stories about the area being inhabited by spirits who write their truths on the rocks. Take a guided tour to see one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) in North America.

A man stands on top of a rock looking out at some hoodoos beside a river in the Canadian badlands.
See ancient petroglyphs, pictographs and hoodoos at Alberta’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Last modified: Jun 22, 2023