The divided 4-lane highway is basically a series of straight lines, with curved sections at
- Jumping Pound Creek (significant elevation drop)
- West of Scott Lake Hill (at 1400m or 4620 feet is the highest point of the highway east of the Rockies) before heading west through drumlin covered flat Bow Valley landscape of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.
- Kananaskis River (with an elevation drop at the western boundary of the Stony First Nations land)
- Lac Des Arc, where the highway bends an “S” curve constrained by steep mountainsides on one side and a lake on the other
In 1953, Alberta proposed a 450km section to be built and completed by 1954, though they had strong objections form the Stoney Nakoda First Nation in Morley, west of Calgary. The stand-off lasted 17 months, and was finally resolved with then natives were granted 181 hectares of land to compensate for the right-of-way through their land, and had the right to all commercial enterprises along the highway through their reserve. They now (2023) operate numerous billboards, a casino, a restaurant, a gas station and general store, and helicopter tours.
Park Gates to Stoney First Nation (at Kananaskis River
This stretch passes by Canmore, Lac Des Arc, and Deadmans Flats before crossing the Kananaskis River and traversing land of the Stony First Nation, which most will notice from the “Caution Watch for Pedestrian” signs along the highway (signs are also on the highway at the other end of the lands, on the western descent from Scott Lake Hill).
Alberta Highway No. 1X is a spur highway between Highway 1 and Highway 1A approximately 7 km east of Exshaw connecting Highway 1 with the western edge of the Stoney Indian Reserve. This 4.5 km (2.8 mi) roadway also serves as the only Bow River crossing between Canmore and Morley. This road provides access to First Nations lands, services, and communities.
Scott Lake Hill to Calgary
When driving west, drivers notice the ridges running at right-angles to the highway getting progressively higher. These are the foothills to the Rockies.
This hill is the highest point of the Trans-Canada east of the Rockies. It lies on the Livingstone Ridge, which marks the eastern boundary of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation lands. There is a rest stop on the westbound side, where you can enjoy the view to the mountains to the south and west. If you miss it, the drive down the west slope offers lots of picture taking opportunities (if you are NOT the driver!)
The uphill slope to Scott Lake Hill is one of the few places where the Trans-Canada widens to three lanes (in both directions), so heavy trucks, RVs, and slow moving cars can take the right lane, and faster cars can pass to the far left. Don’t be an oblivious IDIOT and drive the speed limit in the far left passing lane!
Banff Coach Road & Crowchild Trail
In 1907 construction began on the Banff Coach Road (south of the Bow River), completed in 1909, to get folks from Calgary to Banff by car or by carriage.
Part of the road now known as Crowchild Trails was the Morley Trail (to that town in the Stoney Firat nations land) when it was an actual trail. The road was paved in the 1930s, when it became the main highway to Banff, and was the home of Eamon’s Bungalow Camp and service station (the sign is still resent at the Tuscany LRT station). When the Trans-Canada Highway was created it dropped in importance.
Crowchild Trail begins as 24 Street SW moving north from North Glenmore Park towards the Bow River, and continues northwards from the Bow River crossing (where it has interchanges with Bow Trial on the south side and Memorial Drive on the north side of the Bow River) to the intersection with 16 Avenue NW, where it is designated Highway to the city limits. In 1971, the roadway was renamed Crowchild Trail in honour of David Crowchild, Chief of the Tsuu T’ina Nation from 1946 to 1953
There was a subsequent realignment of the route in 1959. The old route from Calgary, via Crowchild Trail to Lac Des Arc was designated Highway 1A.
Because of population growth in the decades since 1980 in northwest Calgary, in to Town (then City) of Cochrane, and in the Municipal District of Rocky View which surrounds Calgary, Crowchild Trail and Highway 1A has been upgraded to “twinned” for most of the distance to Cochrane, to be capable of handling the increased traffic flows. There is also a “C to C Trail” bicycle trail between Cochrane and NW Calgary under construction (completion 2018) which will allow cyclists to pedal a mostly-level route. The route avoids the infamous Cochrane Hill, and passes through the recently created Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.
Stoney Trail North and East Bypass
In a long range plan to speed traffic around Calgary, rather than going straight through it along 16th Avenue, a ring road was laid out along what is now Stoney Trail, which is designated Highway 201. In the 1980s it was originally aligned along what is now Country Hills Boulevard but bursting-at-the-seams growth of Calgary suburbs in the 1980s made that plan unworkable.
Northwest Stoney Trail
The first portion was built between 16th Avenue NW and Dedrfoot Trail and the Calgary International Airport. This segment included a new bridge over the Bow River bove the city’s Bowness Park. This bridge was a continuous pour construction, and as segments were completed and the concrete cured, they were pused from the north bank onto the bridge pilons until it reached the south bank of the river and connected to the highway built there.
This segment began with the construction from 16th Avenue north to Crowchild Trail (2003-2007). It was extended to Country Hills Boulevard and then to Deerfoot Trail (in 2009). This segment dramatically cut travel time for Edmontonians going to the mountains and visitors arriving at Calgary’s airport heading to/fromthe mountains.
Northeast and Southeast Stoney Trail
Deerfoot Trail, when it was opened in 1978, was a great replacement for the many stop lights along Calgary ‘s Edmonton Trail for those heading north to Airdrie, Red Deer, and Edmonton. But the rapid growth of Calgary’s south and southeast suburbs in the 1970s and 1980s put Deerfoot Trail at design capacity very quickly. The portion of Stoney Trail from Highway 2 North (now officially designated “the Queen Elizabeth II Highway” on her 90th birthday in 2005) above the airport to Highway 2 south and Highway 22X (also known as the Marquis of Lorne Trail)
The first portion completed was from Highway 2 North to 17th Avenue SE (2007-2009) and then extended south to MacLeod Trail and 22X (2009-2013).
Stoney Trail Southwest (Highway 2 to Highway 8)
After a landmark agreement was signed between Alberta and the Tsuut’ina Nation in 2013, which permitted the constructin of the highway on First Nations Land (with a land swap, and commercialization rights granted). The construction would take Stoney Trail west of the protected Weaselhead area beside the Glenmore Reservoir. This began in the south by upgrading Highway 22X to a full divided highway, then building a bridge across Fish Creek and north to Highway 8, the road out to Bragg Creek. (2010-2014).
This part of the Stoeny Trail route was fast-tracked becuase the agreement with the Tsuut’ina Nation imposed a completion deadline on the province. The connection north to the Trans-Canada (16th Avenue West) would be designated “Stoney Trail West” and constructed later.
Canada Olympic Park overpass
In 2016-202 they rebuilt the intersection at Canada Olympic Park, which used to be (as recently as 1984) the cities western limits. To better support communty development on both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway, an overpass junction was built for Canada Olympic Drive (to the south) and Bowfort Road (to the north) was announced in 2015 with construction between 2017 and 2020. For travellers, there is a shopping complex on the south side of this overpass, and the Calgary Farmers Market is to the north of the overpass,
Stoney Trail and 16th Avenue, and Stoney Trail West (south to Highway 8)
This segment will complete the Stoney Trail Calgary Bypass, and runs through a ravine beside Canada Olympic Park and continues south on a right of way between Calgary’s western developments and Rock View County (which has well spread out estate neighbourhoods). This will enable people in the city’s NorthWest to quickly bypass the city to reach vacation desinations in the Crownest Pass area or the BC Kootenays (like Fernie and Cranbrook), and also allow people lving in Calgary;s south or the ranch country and towns south of he city quickly travel to the mountains (Canmore, Banff, and Lake Louise), or BC’s Rockies and the Shuswap Region
This section has been under constrction from 2020 and not expected to be completed until sometime 2024.
Alberta Trans-Canada Highway Map