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In pursuit of an off the beaten path adventure

Pursuit Adventures is a full-service tour company out of Red Deer that has carved out a market exploring David Thompson Country, a lesser known region of the province, while raising the bar when it comes to the destination experience. Specializing in small group tours, Pursuit provides everything you need for a day of adventure in Central Alberta, an area that is really starting to evolve its destination brand.

Off the beaten path

Established in 2010 by entrepreneur and guide JP Fortin, Pursuit Adventures is an independent and locally owned tour company offering small group adventures based out of Red Deer. One of Fortin’s specialties are full day tours into David Thompson Country to see the frozen Crescent Falls and Instagram-famous ice bubbles of Abraham Lake. Buoyed by experiences like those offered by Fortin and his crew, the area is rapidly growing in popularity with locals and international visitors alike.

Starting out as a ski bus from Red Deer to the Rockies, Fortin evolved his business based on the interests of his customers to soon include snowshoeing and hiking tours. “It was something no one else was doing. There was nothing like it here so we decided to give it a try,” said Fortin.

Snowshoe tours began as the focus but that shifted as the popularity of the ice bubbles grew. After photos of Abraham Lake appeared in the New York Times and further increased their popularity, Fortin saw another opportunity to adapt his business to include multiple ice bubbles stops to meet demand. “Social media has had a huge impact. We actually get stopped by people who are pointing at Instagram pictures on their phone saying, ‘where do I go for this?’,” says Fortin.

Strategies like Fortin’s are key to growing Alberta’s tourism industry. As some areas in the Rockies regularly reach capacity during the popular summer travel season, it is important to continue to look for new experiences in lesser known areas during all seasons.

“Right from the beginning we wanted the day to be an experience. Anyone can go on a hike. We wanted something that was special and included everything you need for the day,” said Fortin. “Some of the inspiration was from backcountry lodges, with that type of feeling, with good food, good experiences and getting to see some really cool places.”

Advocating for Central Alberta

Not content to just share his expertise with visitors, Fortin has also become an advocate for the entire Central Alberta region as a destination. In February, Fortin hosted a tour with provincial, municipal and Travel Alberta representatives to share insights and help to improve the visitor experience for everyone. This was an opportunity for officials to see first-hand some of challenges operators like Fortin face, as well as successes, and learn how they can better support the tourism industry.

It is one thing to develop an experience or an event, and another thing all together to create a destination. Operators like Fortin demonstrate the power of showing, not telling, tourism partners about the value in their destination, advocating for support and sharing the entrepreneurial approach to tourism our Alberta Mavericks are famous for.

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