Compiled by the Road Trip Alberta team
Last updated on February 6, 2023
For many Albertans, this trip seems like a regular commute. The QEII highway (Highway 2) is the most trafficked in Alberta and allows for a straight shot from Edmonton to Red Deer. It’s not really about the scenery on this trip through the Alberta prairies, but when the canola fields are in full bloom, it can make it a prettier drive.
The small city of Red Deer is almost equidistant between the bigger metropolis’ of Edmonton and Calgary, although it is often just viewed as a waypoint. It’s the perfect spot to grab a bite, stretch your legs, or fill up your tank along “Gasoline Alley.”
It can be that quick and mindless drive if you want, but there are options to make it more scenic and inject some fun into the journey! For those arriving in Edmonton who want to figure out which route is best for you, we’ve got some options outlined below.
Edmonton to Red Deer Map
The Fastest Route
The distance between Edmonton to Red Deer is 155 km via the very busy QEII highway south. Depending on traffic, weather, and construction, the trip from Edmonton typically takes about 90 minutes. Expect that this route will almost certainly be slower on Fridays after work and on weekends.
The Slower Route
To vary up the journey (and to get away from the crazy highway 2 traffic), we suggest a detour onto Highway 2A from Leduc, through Wetaskiwin, Ponoka, Lacombe and then into Red Deer. It’s single-lane traffic, but with fewer vehicles, it’s worth it. The route is slightly longer, with a distance of 157 km and a drive time of roughly two hours and fifteen minutes.
Edmonton to Red Deer By Car
If you are arriving in Alberta via the Edmonton International Airport (YEG), it is easy to pick up a vehicle (we suggest using Rentalcars.com to compare pricing among your favourite agencies) and be on your way. The airport is right off the QEII and you can quickly be on your way. In addition, the airport actually sits south of Edmonton (near Nisku) and brings you that much closer to Red Deer.
If you are not interested in using a traditional car rental agency, you can also rent cars through a website called Turo (think Airbnb for car rentals). Both airports serve as frequent pick-up/drop-off points.
Before you get on the road, be sure to check out Alberta 511 for up-to-date road reports. Every winter, there are at least a few days that this trip can be a treacherous journey thanks to inhospitable weather, and trust us, you don’t want to be caught in it!
Bus from Edmonton to Red Deer
There are some good options for a bus from Edmonton to Red Deer (and from Red Deer to Edmonton) that are reasonably priced.
Red Arrow – Red Arrow is probably the most popular bus service connecting the two cities (and more spots in Alberta), Red Arrow offers multiple pick-up spots in each city. Buses from Edmonton leave at noon daily. A bus ticket can be purchased online or at the Red Arrow ticket office at the station.
Rider Express – Rider Express buses from Edmonton to Red Deer run at least once per morning. Bus tickets can be purchased on their website.
Ebus – Ebus is Red Arrow’s offering of a more economical option, with almost-daily options from Edmonton to Red Deer for an average of $42 per person.
Cold Shot – $30 will get you between the two cities with Cold Shot Bus Service. They make up to 2 trips daily along this route. A bonus for riding with Cold Shot is that every sixth trip is free!
The Canada Bus – A brand new service offering service between Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton. There are even plans to expand to Canmore and Banff in the near future. A one-way ticket on The Canada Bus from Calgary to Edmonton is $30, and if you purchase a six-ticket pack (good for 180 days), you’ll get a 15% discount.
Edmonton to Red Deer by Private Transfer
For some, travelling from Edmonton in style and comfort is a must (without having to drive themselves). A private transfer from Edmonton to Red Deer is a good option. Here are a few options to do so.
Quest Limos – These guys offer anything from luxury sedans to vehicles that can fit up to 12 people, so you get to decide how you want to travel from Edmonton to Red Deer. Prices start at $85 per hour.
Taxi – Taxis are always an option, of course, but note that rates run around $500 for a taxi to make the journey from Edmonton to Red Deer.
Edmonton to Red Deer by Other Options
With the number of ridesharing options nowadays, finding a ride from Edmonton to Red Deer can be very simple.
Poparide.com – there are options to select your driver based on your luggage and equipment requirements if you are travelling with skis, bikes, etc. Poparide charges per seat, so you have an opportunity to meet other visitors if you are travelling solo from Edmonton or Calgary.
Uber – serves both cities and so is another rideshare option, however many drivers may not be willing or capable of making the drive, and the price is close to what a taxi would cost for just one way.
Things to Do Along the Way
If you’re taking the fastest route (Highway 2) to Red Deer, there is not much to do apart from making a stop in Gasoline Alley. The slower route is definitely a more interesting drive. You can take a pit stop in Wetaskiwin and tour the classic cars at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum. Also, along the way, be sure to make a stop and see some of the quirky Alberta’s roadside attractions. In Ponoka you’ll find the giant bucking bronco and in Lacombe you’ll see the ‘World’s Biggest Fishing Lure.’
If you do happen to stop in Lacombe, then you will want to stop for a treat at Sweet Capones Italian Bakery and Cannoli Shop. You can thank us after!
Upon Arrival in Red Deer
You made it!
There are plenty of things to do in Red Deer. Be sure to check out the shops and restaurants downtown, explore the trails in the McKenzie Trails Recreation Area and the Bower Ponds or book a trail ride and romantic dinner at Heritage Ranch. For more detailed information about everything that Red Deer has to offer, check out their tourism office website. Or visit them at 101-4200 Hwy 2 Red Deer, AB. They will be more than happy to guide you to the best places that suit your likes and needs.
Where to Stay in Red Deer
Need to spend a night? There are plenty of options for hotels in Red Deer. We recommend the following:
Holiday Inn & Suites – Guests who stay at the Holiday Inn & Suites Red Deer appreciate the location on Gasoline Alley and being close to restaurants. They have a good hearty breakfast, and the kids love the waterslide and pool.
Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham – Clean, comfortable, and convenient are all reviews guests leave to describe staying at the Microtel Inn & Suites Red Deer. They also love the fitness centre, pool and waterslide in the hotel.
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Red Deer – Spacious, clean rooms and a quiet location accessible to many restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores make staying at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Red Deer a good choice.
If you plan on spending some time in Edmonton before heading south to Red Deer, check out our complete guide of the best things to do in Edmonton.
Also, amp up the fun on your trip by downloading our FREE Road Trip Alberta bingo cards!