Wine, food and fresh air: Cypress Hills, Alberta

Cypress Hills Provincial Park takes up residence on both sides of the Saskatchewan and Alberta border in the deepest southern region of each province. The unincorporated community of Elkwater is the focal point on the Alberta side and consists of cabins, a visitor centre, the Camp Cookhouse (restaurant) and General Store, and the Elkwater Lake Lodge.

To get to Elkwater, follow the Buffalo Trail (Hwy. 41) south from Medicine Hat. You’ll be there in about 45 minutes.

In October 2017, I loaded up the jeep and headed south (from Edmonton) to Elkwater for the Wine Festival in the Hills held at the Elkwater Lake Lodge.

So, first of all, wine …that’s obvious; secondly, a gorgeous place to lay your head; thirdly, exploring a new destination, and lastly (and just as important), great food. Those are the four cornerstones of happiness, right there.

Three days exploring new territory in a part of the province so incredibly beautiful was good for the soul.

The 2018 festival is happening October 26-28, so you might want to grab tickets now. The weather forecast for southern Alberta is looking fine for late October!

Check out these scenes from my drive from Edmonton to Elkwater in 2017. I took the back roads, of course; always get off the major highways when you can.

The change in topography was crazy. It was like driving through a moving museum for six hours.

On the road: Edmonton to Elkwater
The Prairie Dust Motel near Jenner, AB, in a rural municipality called Special Area No. 2.
In the Badlands of Kneehill County.
Near Big Stone (I think).
Near Youngstown, AB.
Near Youngstown, AB. 

Outside Medicine Hat.

Coming into Elkwater, AB.

Witnessing these new sights and the beauty of the land made me realize how fortunate I am to live where I live and do what I do.

If you go, what you will experience in those hours on the road (beauty, solitude, or singing at the top of your lungs) and what awaits at the destination will totally be worth the time it takes to drive there.

Exploring and hiking in and around Elkwater.
The post-hike lunch provided by Alex Bruveris and Becky Ross of Camp Cookhouse in Elkwater.
The Elkwater Lake Lodge.
Hors D’oeuvres the first night and the next evening’s seven-course meal was prepared by Chef Rusty Thienes of Harvest Eatery in nearby Shaunavon, Sask.
A small sampling of the wines.

Get your tickets for the upcoming Wine Festival in the Hills here.