First, visit the UNECSO World Heritage Site Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, which is located 18 km northwest of Fort Macleod. This is a 5000 year old site of incredible historical and cultural significance.
Afterwards, head into the Town of Fort Macleod, the oldest town in Alberta, established in 1874 by the North West Mounted Police to allow for peaceful settlement of the west.
Take a walking tour of Fort Macleod. This is from an article from the Macleod Gazette, Fort Macleod’s local Newspaper which was founded in 1882, making it the longest running newspaper in Alberta. This tour includes the historic Empress Theatre. The Empress was built in 1912 and is Alberta’s oldest continually operating theatre and continues to offer a number of live musical and theatre acts, as well as movies, and claims to be haunted!
For lunch stay on Main Street and head over to either Johnny’s Café, whose Chef is formerly a Chef of the Banff Springs Hotel; or, The Silver Grill Café, located in a 1910 building which was the local saloon and poker house, and still houses the original bar and mirror, which contains a bullet hole from a wild west shootout!
Then wander over to The NWMP Fort Museum, a replica fort of the North West Mounted Police fort. The Fort has numerous displays of the life of the early western settlers as well as history of the local native groups.
Also located near town is the Northwest Mounted Police 1884 Barracks Provincial Historic Site, which has a number of reconstructed buildings from 1884, including the barrack, stable, prison, hospital and firearms displays.
Next take a walk along the Old Man River on many of its path ways or head over to The River Valley Wilderness Park and admire the unique and endangered ecosystem of this river valley. The forests along the river is one of the few places that the narrow-leaf cottonwood tree species still survives. To find the park, follow the 6th Ave North (Highway 811) and go over the green bridge, and take the first left into the gravel parking lot. There is an extensive pathway system and a number of swimming holes and spots for great fishing!
River Valley (Town of Fort Macleod)
Perhaps also plan to play a round on the Fort Macleod Golf Course, the oldest Golf Course in Western Canada, founded by the original members of the NWMP in 1890.
To find out more about the history of Fort Macleod, check out these books from the library: Fort Macleod: Our Colourful Past or Ghost Towns of Southern Alberta Volume 2 which has a section on Old Fort Macleod. My favorite line in the latter book is Fort Macleod Hotel's Regulation #18: Guests are forbidden to strike matches or spit on the celing, or to sleep in bed with their boots on.