Last updated: March 2nd, 2020
For a true small-town prairie experience, it doesn’t get much better than the drive from Calgary to Lethbridge. You’ll go from the foothills of Calgary to the coulees of Lethbridge, passing by many farms and popular little towns that offer a glimpse into the prairie lifestyle.
Lethbridge, a former “wild-west” whiskey-trading post, is now the third biggest city in Alberta having recently surpassed a population of 100,000. It is the commercial centre of Southern Alberta and offers a variety of things to do for those who visit.
Calgary to Lethbridge Road Trip Tips
The drive from Calgary to Lethbridge is just over 200 kilometres and takes just over two hours without stopping. It’s a fairly straight-forward, flat drive along Highway 2 before turning onto Highway 3 for the last 50 kilometres. As always though, there are many things you can do along the way to turn this into a full-day road trip, which we’ll go into below.
Note: Like most Candian highways, winter can present a variety of hazards including icy and snowy conditions. Summer is much better although the highway can be busy on weekends.
How To Get from Calgary to Lethbridge
Calgary to Lethbridge by Car
If you’re coming directly from the Calgary International Airport (YYC), the drive is around 225 kilometres in length. It’s a simple drive with many small towns along the way for you to visit and explore.
There are many places to rent a car at the Calgary International Airport as well as within the city itself. Most major rental car brands are similar so we recommend doing a search on booking engines such as Expedia, Rentalcars.com, or Booking.com.
In addition to the normal rental car companies, there’s also a website called Turo, which is like Airbnb for car rentals. This may allow for some unique car rental opportunities or possibly cheaper rates. We prefer the convenience of the major car rental companies, but Turo can be a unique method for renting a vehicle.
Calgary to Lethbridge by RV
If you’re looking to have more of a “home on wheels”, consider renting an RV or campervan. RV rentals are a very popular thing to do in Canada thanks to our great size and amount of camping opportunities.
Here are some options below:
- CanaDream: This is a big RV rental company. They have everything from the little guys to the big guys.
- RVezy: This is the Airbnb of RV’s. You rent someone else’s RV.
- Wheel Estate: This is also the Airbnb of RV’s. Many options for renting someone else’s RV.
- Karma Campervans: This is an option for campervans. Typically, it’s a regular size van with two front seats and the back area has been converted into a mini living area with a bed and a kitchen.
Calgary to Lethbridge by Bus
If you’d rather sit back and relax and let someone else do the driving for you, the bus is another option for getting from Calgary to Lethbridge.
Red Arrow is a popular major bus company that does the Calgary to Lethbridge route multiple times per day for about $39-50 one-way. The bus includes WiFi, drinks, toilet, air-conditioning, power outlets, and entertainment. The trip takes around 3 hours.
Calgary to Lethbridge by Private Transfer
If you’re looking for a more convenient way to sit back and relax while en route to Lethbridge, a private transfer may be the way to go.
Some private transfer options are below:
J & L Shuttle Service: This shuttle service offers daily trips from a variety of pick-up and drop-off points including door-to-door.
Shuttle on the Go: This shuttle service conveniently offers door-to-door service between Calgary and Lethbridge every day. Prices range from $45 – $75 one-way or $110 return.
RideBooker.com: This booking has everything from luxury sedans to luxury mini-busses and all the sizes of transportation in between to choose from depending on the size of your group.
Calgary to Lethbridge by Rideshare
Quickly gaining in popularity, Poparide.com offers the chance to rideshare your way around Canada, including from Calgary to Lethbridge. Prices can vary but seem to be around $30 for a one-way trip.
Things to Do on Your Road Trip
The reason why we love having our own car for road trips is due to all the beautiful places you can visit along the way. If you do have that flexibility, there are a number of places along the way for you to visit, including:
Okotoks: Although this is slightly off the main route by about 10 minutes, this charming little town has a popular “Old Towne” street with many shops and is also close to the Okotoks Erratic, a really big rock that made its way here during the Ice Age. There are also hotels, restaurants, and camping opportunities if you need to spend the night.
High River: This small town is also off the route by a few minutes but is a popular spot for those who like that small western-town feel and history. The main spot to visit would be the museum of the Highwood, which is registered on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. It’s a great little museum with lots of information about the town and area as well as the many popular movies and TV shows that have been filmed here, including the hit TV show Heartland. Have lunch in an old railcar at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Nanton: As you make your way towards Lethbridge, you’ll drive right through this little town. It’s quite popular for antique shops and beautiful old buildings but it’s also home to one of the greatest candy shops in the province. For those into aircraft and WW2, you’ll also enjoy the Bomber Command Museum and Visitor Information Centre.
Claresholm: This town is even smaller than the towns mentioned above but is still a worthy stop if you’d like to see some beautiful historic murals and/or the Claresholm & District Museum and Visitor Information Centre, which includes a 1912 CPR train station, a school from 1903, a 1920s log cabin, and a CPR caboose – just to name a few.
Head-Smash-In Buffalo Jump: For those interested in indigenous culture, there’s hardly a better place to visit than the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Although this will take you off the main route for 30-minutes or so, this site preserves and interprets over 6,000 years of Plains Buffalo culture. You’ll find a variety of exhibits, a wonderful movie, diverse programming, and vast landscapes to admire during your visit.
Fort Macleod: This historic town is where you’ll switch highways as you make your way to Lethbridge. It’s a great place to get some gas, grab some food, and stretch your legs. However, it’s also a great place to visit the Fort Museum of the North West Mounted Police. This museum is a re-creation of the original fort from 1874 and is the birthplace of the famous RCMP Musical Ride. It’s also home to the only on-site Musical Ride in all of Canada performing daily in July and August as well as their Canadian Signature Experience called Groom A Horse.
Things to Do in Lethbridge
Once you’ve made it to Lethbridge, there are many things to do and sights to see. For a complete guide on what to do as well as where to stay, check out our Things To Do in Lethbridge article.
You may also like these Lethbridge articles:
- Things To Do in Lethbridge on the Water
- Four Ways to Enjoy the Natural Side of Lethbridge
- Experiencing Fort Whoop-Up
Want to EXPLORE more of CANADA? Check out these articles below:
- Things To Do in Calgary
- Things To Do in Banff
- Things To Do in Canmore
- Calgary to Banff
- Banff to Jasper
- Things To Do in Alberta
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