Feel like hitting the road and taking a day trip from Medicine Hat, Alberta? Rest assured you have a ton of options!
Medicine Hat, located in Alberta’s sunny badlands, is within driving distance of a ton of amazing places including dinosaur sites, indigenous landmarks, culture-filled cities, and beautiful landscapes.
During my year living in Medicine Hat, I made a point to get out as much as possible and see everything the area had to offer. At this time, I absolutely fell in love with the Canadian badlands and loved exploring its nooks and crannies.
From lush parks to cultural sites and beyond, here are the ten best day trips from Medicine Hat, Alberta.
10 Best Day Trips from Medicine Hat, Alberta
#1 – Drumheller, Alberta
Distance from Medicine Hat: 2.5-hour drive, 246.3km (153 miles)
Well-known as the Dinosaur Capital of the World, Drumheller Alberta is located just 2.5 hours from Medicine Hat and is a mecca for dino lovers.
Drumheller symbolizes the pinnacle of life on the Canadian Badlands and is home to the world’s largest dinosaur (you can walk up its body and into its mouth), the Royal Tyrrell Museum, hoodoos, lunar landscapes, hiking trails, canyons, ghost towns, and scenic drives.
👉 For more inspiration, check out the best things to do in Drumheller, Alberta.
#2 – Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta
Distance from Medicine Hat: 1hour 45min drive, 168km (104.4miles)
Situated near the small border town of Milk River, Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park is one of the most interesting destinations on the Canadian Badlands.
A fun day trip for the whole family, Writing-On-Stone is known for its towering hoodoos, historical rock carvings and paintings, indigenous history, hiking trails, and campgrounds.
In fact, the history here dates back to 85 million years ago when the area was a coastal shelf of an inland sea. This shelf eventually became compacted sand and then eroded, forming the sandstone that you find at the site today.
Much later, the area became inhabited by the Blackfoot (Aisinai’ip) people, who created the petroglyphs and pictographs that are a focal point of the park.
👉 Check out my comprehensive guide to Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park that lays out exactly what to expect.
#3 – Lethbridge, Alberta
Distance from Medicine Hat: 1 hour 29 min drive, 168.1km (104.5miles)
A city day trip from Medicine Hat, Lethbridge Alberta is an easy-going destination that packs a punch with both great things to do and interesting history.
Much of downtown Lethbridge’s buildings were built in the early 1900s during the town’s coal mining days. Today these buildings are inhabited with art galleries, cafes, breweries, and so much more. Plus, the downtown core of Lethbridge is easily walkable, so getting around is a breeze.
In particular, some of the best things to do in Lethbridge include checking out the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, strolling in Henderson Lake Park, grabbing a drink at Coulee Brew Co, exploring Lethbridge’s history at Galt Museum & Archives, and catching a show at New West Theatre.
#4 – Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta
Distance from Medicine Hat: 1hour 15min drive, 122.9km (76.4miles)
A gorgeous park featuring 49 different species of dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous Period, Dinosaur Provincial Park is my personal favorite day trip from Medicine Hat.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dinosaur Provincial Park is known for its dinosaurs, hoodoos, and views for days. While here, hiking, camping, and checking out the visitors center are the name of the game.
In particular, I recommend hiking the Badlands Trail, Cottonwood Flats, Coulee Viewpoint, Prairie Trail, and Trail of the Fossil Hunters. And bring a camera — you’re going to want to take a ton of photos.
👉 For more guidance on the park, check out my ultimate travel guide to Dinosaur Provincial Park.
#5 – Calgary, Alberta
Distance from Medicine Hat: 3hour drive, 294.9km (183.24miles)
Feel like spending a day in the big city? Then a day trip to Calgary, Alberta is for you!
Calgary may be known for all things oil and ranching, but there is so much more in this cool cosmopolitan city for people of all interests.
Some of the best things to do in Calgary include attending the iconic Calgary Stampede (it happens every July and is essentially a big ranch-themed county fair), visiting Heritage Park Historical Village, learning about Alberta history at the Glenbow Museum, going to the top of the Calgary Tower, and learning about Canadian Music at the National Music Centre.
🚌 Tour Alert! First time in Calgary? Then I recommend taking this 3-hour Calgary small group bus tour. It’s the perfect introduction to the city and covers a lot of sites.
👉 Read More: 15 Best Day Trips from Calgary, Alberta
#6 – Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta and Saskatchewan
Distance from Medicine Hat: 45min drive, 65.9km (40.5miles)
For an easy, lush, nature-filled day trip from Medicine Hat, try Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park on for size.
Straddling the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills is tranquil, exciting, and the perfect place to unwind by a lake or in a forest full of towering trees.
Some of the best things to do in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park include going on a Cypress Hills Eco Adventure (ziplining and rock climbing), playing mini golf, hiking through the many trails, horseback riding, geocaching, and all the typical lake activities.
To take a day trip here from Medicine hat, type “Elkwater” into Google Maps — I always found this was the easiest starting point for Cypress Hills adventures.
#7 – Red Rock Coulee, Alberta
Distance from Medicine Hat: 33min drive, 49km (30.4miles)
A truly unique day trip from Medicine Hat, Red Rock Coulee is characterized by its red spherical concretions that make the landscape look like a sci-fi movie. Some of the largest concretions of their kind in the world, these red rocks measure up to 2.5 meters in diameter and stretch across the landscape for quite a while.
While at Red Rock Coulee, I recommend hitting up the hiking trails and exploring the other hoodoos.
If you’re visiting in summer, keep in mind that western rattlesnakes, short-horned lizards, and scorpions have all been known to grace the area with their presence. Be on alert for these critters and always give them the right of way.
🔥 Hot tip: Red Rock Coulee is a great day trip on its own, or it can be tacked on to a Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park excursion (they’re both in the same general direction). The planning is up to you!
👉 Read More: 16 Most Unique Things to do in Medicine Hat, Alberta
#8 – Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan
Distance from Medicine Hat: 1hour 51min drive, 164.4km (102miles)
Feel like checking out a desert landscape in the middle of the prairies? Then hop in your car and head to the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan!
Massive dunes that are the largest of their type in the area, the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan are located near the town of Sceptre, Saskatchewan and date back roughly 12 000 years.
At the dunes, you’ll find a small interpretive center in Sceptre and a parking lot that will lead you to the hiking trails. From the parking lot, the dunes are about a half-hour hike, and then it’s truly a choose-your-own-adventure kind of situation.
The dunes aren’t so big that you’ll get lost, but definitely keep an eye on where you came in as they can be a little disorienting. Oh also, there are some serious sandflies at the dunes, so cover up or bring bug spray.
Getting to the dunes can be a little shaky as the roads aren’t super great, so I recommend bringing a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and I wouldn’t recommend coming here if it has recently rained or is going to rain.
👉 For more information, check out my guide to the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan!
#9 – Swift Current, Saskatchewan
Distance from Medicine Hat: 2 hour 11 min drive, 222.6km (138.3miles)
Another town day trip from Medicine Hat, Swift Current in Saskatchewan is a great destination to learn about the railway history of the area — it was the primary shipping location between 1882 and 1891.
Some of the best things to do in Swift Current include visiting the Art Gallery of Swift Current, checking out the Mennonite Heritage Village, visiting the Swift Current Museum (they have dinosaur bones!) hiking through Elmwood Park, and grabbing a drink at Black Bridge Brewery Swift Current.
#10 – Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta
Distance from Medicine Hat: 2 hour 30 min drive, 236.2km (146.7miles)
A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important indigenous archaeological sites in Canada, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is located in the foothills of the rocky mountains near the town of Fort Macleod.
Once used as a buffalo jump — a site where indigenous peoples would herd buffalo over a cliff to be butchered– Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump features a museum and visitors center, tours, remnants from the jump, bison bones, and interesting hiking trails.
Southern Alberta FAQ
Is Medicine Hat Worth Visiting?
One of the sunniest destinations in Canada, Medicine Hat is worth visiting for its intriguing landscape, charming downtown core, constant string of events, stampede, and historical sites.
What is Medicine Hat known for?
Medicine Hat is known for having large natural gas fields and a high number of annual sunny days.
What is the population of Medicine Hat?
The population of Medicine Hat is over 63 000 people.
That’s it for my top 10 day drips from Medicine Hat, Alberta!
There are truly a ton of great places to explore in the area, and none of these options will make for a boring adventure.
Let me know your favorite Medicine Hat day trips in the comments! Have fun!
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