Land of the Living Skies, and Epic Flatness
While the western edge of Alberta lies in the Rocky Mountains, the long flat prairies begin pretty quickly, and don’t stop for days. Being back in this part of Canada means that we get to visit friends and family as well as try to discover some new and amazing places. It might seem a daunting task at first in these flat lands, but there is beauty to be found.
We visited a few little provincial parks in the southeast corner of Alberta after leaving Waterton Lakes. At Beauvais Lake we had our first on foot encounter with a black bear and her cub. She stood up to survey us better while the cub climbed a tree and we walked away as quickly as we could. We decided the lake wasn’t really for us and drove to Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump where we learned how the First Nations people used to chase herds of bison off the cliffs.
The next stop was Writing-On-Stone provincial park. They’ve got some good names in Alberta. Here we walked in the hoodoos and saw the petroglyphs, and spent a good part of the day sitting in the sun by the Milk River. It was a great place to spend a day with a very busy campground.
From here we headed to Coaldale and out into the grid of farmland to the Lievaart’s potato farm. Our friends Joleen and Lane live here and grow the tastiest potatoes, bake the best bread, and have the biggest rhubarb plant ever. We spent a few days here, fattening up, cleaning the truck, and visiting with good friends.
Our last stop in Southern Alberta was Cypress Hills, the highest bit of land between the Rockies and Labrador on the east coast. There was a hill, but it wasn’t anything to get too excited about. And the view was nice.
We hiked a few trails, walked along the lake and Luke had a decent bike ride. It was a very pretty place and we found a great little campground in a remote part of the park and watched evening fall around a campfire.
On the Saskatchewan side of the park there is the historic village of Fort Walsh that can be visited for a small price. We bought a national park pass for Canada so figured we’d get our monies worth. The fort was built in 1878 and served as the headquarters for the North West Mounted Police until 1882. Some of the fort was rebuilt in the 1940’s by the RCMP so they could breed and train their black horses.
After some discussion (well, just a quick conversation really) we decided to skip Grasslands National Park and instead opted for a very long drive north up to Prince Albert National Park instead. Saskatchewan does not make for very interesting travel, but there is something about the straight rows of growing plants that I do love.
Prince Albert is about halfway up the province, but feels like the far north. The park was quiet and pretty rustic. There is a little town and if that’s what you were after you could choose from a couple restaurants to eat at and browse the shops. The park is full of lakes and little walks out into the boreal forest. We stayed in a campground on one of the lakes and were the only people there, and apart from the mosquitoes it was a little piece of paradise. Luke spent one morning fishing and caught 4 Pike. Being up here has made us more excited about heading further north, but for now we head back to Saskatoon for my cousin’s wedding.