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24 October 2010

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park to Magrath, Alberta

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park on the Saskatchewan - Alberta border to Magrath, Alberta

Exploring Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

On the 7th of October 2010, we got an early morning start
Sun is coming up early morning
 and left the Saskatchewan side of Cypress Hills Interprovincial park on Gap Road connecting the east and west block of the the park.

View From our campground to Fort Walsh in a larger map
This road is not for the faint at heart, and it is only passable when it is dry (I had to go through the truck wash in Maple Creek and left 45 pounds of mud behind).
Gap Road on a good day
Don't even think of bringing a trailer or motor-home down this cow trail. Needless to say we did not go the same way back.
White Tale Deer in Cypress Hills Park in Early Morning Light

This White Tail Buck, just stood there and looked at us.

Good part of Gap road.
However it is very beautiful and full of wild life. Lots of White tale and Mule Deer like the one in the above pictures.

We also saw and heard one doe (female deer) that came out of the bush, she stomped her hoofs and said, "That's the last time I do that for two bucks"..... sorry, Liz made me do it.

The land between the two blocks are privately owned so please stay on the trail.
Cattle on privately owned land
Once in the west block which is both in Saskatchewan and Alberta there is lots to do and lot of land to cover. The Cypress Hills area spans over 125 kilometers from east to west through some wonderful country full of rare fescue grasses, lodge pole pine and white spruce.
Road to Fort Walsh in the West Block of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
It is also home to ranching families, charming resorts, welcoming towns and of course Canada's only interprovincial park. Further, you can also find Saskatchewan first and only Winery, "Cyperss Hills Vineyard and Winery where you can enjoy complimentary wine tasting, self guided vineyard tours, unique gift shop and home made Saskatoon berry pie.

The park is home to Fort Walsh and the Cypress Hills Massacre.
Fort Walsh, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

 Fort Walsh was established as an RCMP post to get peace between the whisky traders and the Assiniboine Natives that were the people involved in the massacre. The story has it, that on the 1st of June 1873 a group of whiskey traders attacked the Assiniboine camp. In doing so they killed several women, children and braves in retaliation for the alleged theft of their horses by natives. Many Assiniboine Natives had already died from the fatal whisky, which was laced with ink and strychnine.


The park has so much more to offer and if you travel through southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, you must stop and camp (or book in to a lodge) here. The campgrounds are plentiful with or without services.
Fort Walsh, Cypress Hills

Liz at Fort Walsh, Cypress Hills


Check out www.CypressHills.ca Note: Some areas of the park, like into Fort Walsh you will not be able to pull a trailer, the switch backs are too sharp, but there are trailer drop off areas.

After touring a portion of the park we turned the GPS to Maple Creek, did the truck wash, walked the town and talked to some locals. Had a coffee at the "Daily Grind" and picked up some supplies at the local Co-Op store.

Once back in the east block of the park, we picked up our trailer and headed west on Hwy 1 to Medicine Hat. From there we took Hwy 3 to  Bow Island and Taber. From Taber, 36 south, 61 east and eventually ended up in Magrath and parked our brigade at Covered Wagon Campground. Great place but somehow the Internet was not what it should be.

View Cypress Hills, SK to Magrath, AB. in a larger map
Magrath is a quaint little town and you can see some wind generators with the Rocky Mountains as a back drop.

More pictures at the end of this album, just click the picture
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park,incl. Fort Walsh & Grassland Nat.Park

Tomorrow we are off to Waterton National Park.

Cheers,

Anders and Liz

17 October 2010

Saskatchewan's Scotty, the T-Rex Dinosaur and Grasslands National Park.



T.rex Discovery Centre, Eastend, Saskatchewan and Grasslands National Park

Scotty - T.rex dinosaur

6th of October 2010, we took off from our camp at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park


View Larger Map
 early morning in a thick fogg and drove to  Eastend, Saskatchewan....

It is thick fog - 30km per hr is appropriate

Fog early in the morning
our target, "The T.rex Discovery Centre" located in the community of Eastend, SK.




Eastend is famous for the 1991 discovery of a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus Rex or what we more commonly call a T-Rex. He or more then likely a she, was named Scotty.



There is much more to see and do at the Centre. A wonderful movie with an overview of the discovery, further you can see replicas and real bones of ancient marine reptiles to diverse dinosaures, to the prehistoric beasts that came after the dinosaurs. You even can hold (and I know you always wanted to) some dino coprolite.....
Dino Coprolite

Anders holding some sh..... Coprolite

The main focus of the centre is to increase awareness of the very rich and diverse but often overlooked, fossil resources of southwest Saskatchewan.

Liz and her buddy :)

Best friends
The centre is home to a state of the art Fossil Research Station, and interpretive gallery and a collection of touchable fossils.

Fossil Research Station is part of the presentation
 Everyone should go, it's a blast.  Remember "Coprolite Happens"

Check out the website www.trexcentre.ca and our Picasa Web Album, just click image below
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park,incl. Fort Walsh & Grassland Nat.Park


Grasslands National Park

Liz in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan Canada

From Eastend we headed to Grasslands National Park, close to the Monatana border in the SW of Saskatchewan.

The Grasslands National Park is a wonderful "true" nature park, it is the way the prairies used to be before Europeans set foot here. If you are lucky, you will see bison raising dust, swift fox pups playing in a coulee, the rare short horned lizzard, ferruginous hawks, a creek finding its way along an ancient glacial valley and much more.



Hike and find the time-worne ring of stones on a windy ridge. These rings of stones were used to hold down the tipi (tents) of the native indians so the wind would not blow it away.

Many of the native tribes; Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, Cree and Blackfoot hunted bisons and deer here. Even Sitting Bull camped here briefly as he fled the USA after the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

On a side note, east of the park is the striking glacially formed landscape of the Big Muddy Badlands. In the early 1900s, caves of eroded sandstone and deep ravines provided hideouts for cattle thieves such as Butch Cassidy and Dutch Henry

There are lots of hikes you can do and a primitive but wonderful campground "Belza Place" overlooking the valley.
Belza Campground in Grasslands National Park

View from Belza Campground in Grasslands National Park

There is a new campground being built. Talking to the park office, there is no word on when it will be finished but, we think you will be able to stay there for the 2011 season. I think I would prefer the old one though. The only thing available at the Belza Place campground is a dry toilet, so come prepared (that means at least 2L of water per day per person).
Horses on the range

A word of caution, the Bisons are wild and unpredicable, do not go close. Also while hiking or just walking around, be aware of Rattlesnakes. They live here, but will only strike when thretened or cornered. This is a good reason to buy a pair of cowboy boots.

Saskatchewan Antelope on the range


We did the Eco-tour with our own vehical through the park, it was great and we can highly recomend it.

There is a visitor centre (1-306-298-2257) in Val Marie, Saskatchewan at the junction of Hwy#4 and Centre Street. The staff is very knowledgeable, and will provide you with up to date information about the park. The park website is www.parkscanada.gc.ca/grasslands. And I almost forgot, the access to the park is currently FREE.

After our visit we headed back to our camp at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.

Our camp at the Meadows Campground in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

Again, more pictures if you click the picture below
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park,incl. Fort Walsh & Grassland Nat.Park

Cheers,

Liz and Anders

11 October 2010

Meota, Saskatchewan to Cypress Hills Inter-provincial Park

Meota To Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan



Many people say Saskatchewan is flat..... Well, Yes and No. I would say that the most of Saskatchewan consists of forest, over 100,000 lakes, all kinds of rivers and rolling land. However, there is a lot of flat farm and ranch land.

Giant Map of Saskatchewan: look at all the lakes in the north, with
Lake Athabaska in the far north west corner

Saskatchewan is 651,036 sq km or almost 16 times larger then Switzerland. Lakes and rivers are plentiful, 9.2%  or 59, 366 sq km is lakes and rivers. Compare that to a total landmass of Switzerland of 41,290 sq km. The largest lake is Lake Athabasca, 7935 sq km. Lake Athabasca (in the far north) is also home to the worlds largest active sand dunes and also holds the record for lake trout at 46.3 kg or 102 lbs.


View Larger Map

On the 5th of October we broke camp after camping at my sister Rose and her husband Al's place on Jackfish Lake. They have a wonderful new home right on the south end of the lake. We drove into North Battleford and picked up some supplies, and then we took number 4 Hwy. south.


View Larger Map

We drove through some wonderful farm and ranch land

Straight South
 and after about 2.5 hrs of driving ended up in the Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park.

Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park
 If you have not had the opportunity to visit this park, this is a must see. The park is just fantastic right on Lake Diefenbaker, it even has a golf course (just under 7000 meters of Championship golf) and a marina with 110 boat slips as well as rentals, bait and tackle available.

The landscape is wonderful
Marina at Saskatchewan Landing
Lake Diefenbaker often referred to as "The Jewel of the Prairies" and "Saskatchewan's Great Lake" is surrounded by steep rugged hills, razorback ridges, wooded coulees, and a variety of wild life. Saskatchewan Landing is an historic river crossing, where generations of Indian and Metis buffalo hunters forded the river. The site later became a stage-coach station and ferry landing, to service traffic over the Swift Current-Batteleford Trail. Cart ruts are still visible in the park. A north West Mounted police patrol station was established in 1885. Colonel Otter and his men crossed the South Saskatchewan River here on their way to Battleford during the Northwest Rebellion. Saskatchewan Landing is now a natural environment park, a prairie oasis, straddling the western end of the lake.

Lake Diefenbaker is a man made lake, resulting from the construction of the Gardiner and Qu'appelle dams in the 1960s, now featuring more then 800km of luxurious, sandy beaches. The lake is home to 27 fish species.

If you enjoy swimming, fishing, windsurfing, camping, hiking, golfing, wildlife viewing or history, this park must be on your list to visit. Talking to one of the park employees, he told us the park is pretty well full from end of June to end or August. If you are going during this time, make a reservation, 1-800-205-7070.
Liz in the campground at Saskatchewan Landing

The park has four campgrounds and a total of 315 sites. If you are a birding enthusiast, you just have to come here during spring and fall when birds are migrating. This lake is home to many species, including  the endangered piping plover.

Geocaching (using a GPS unit to find a location or treasure. You could call it an electronic treasure hunt) has become one of the fastest growing activities around the world. If you are interested in Geocaching, the Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park Geocaching Program is worth a try.

Later we traveled to further south and west to Cypress Hills Interprovincial park, on the Saskatchewan and Alberta border. Cypress Hills is the highest point east of the Rockies, towering at 1468 meters or 4816 feet (Mt Washington on Vancouver Island is just a bit taller at 1585 meters or 5200 feet). This is our second time in Cypress Hills and it feels like you arrived in the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains with lodgepole pine forests and an abundant of wild flowers. The park is home to all kinds of wild life, including, Elk, moose, white tailed deer and over 200 species of birds that stop here during their migration. The mountain chickadee and the rare trumpeter swan are just some of the birds you might encounter.
White tail deer
Next we are off to the town of Eastend and check out Scotty the new found T-Rex and then off to the Grasslands National Park.

More pictures at our Picasa Web Album - Meadow Lake, Jack Fish Lake to Cypress Hills Provincial Park

Cheers,

Liz and Anders

Meadow Lake Provincial Park


Saskatcehwan's Meadow Lake Provincial Park


During our week's stay at my sister Rose and her husband Al's place we made a day trip up to Meadow Lake Provincial park


View Larger Map

We picked up my mom Ruth who lives in North Battleford. We packed a cooler with lunch and went on our way. On the way north we quickly stopped by my old farm "High Chaparral Ranch", just south of Turtleford. Yes, I used to be a cowboy and farm in Saskatchewan way back in the late 80's
The old farm house, no longer in use :(
We did a lot of work on this house, put the wrap-around porch on, even put in a bath room (yes, hard to belive we actually had an outhouse for some time in the late 80's). We had close to 100 head of cattle and farmed about 1100 acres.... those were the days.
Looking out over the old farm
Still some cattle down on the river bottom
My oldest daughter Jenny celebrated her one year birthday on the farm.

Meadow Lake Provincial Park was Next on our List

Off we went in the direction North. We arrived in Meadow Lake Provincial Park an hour and a half later. The  park is one of the largest in Saskatchewan and one of the most popular. With over 100 km of  lush boreal forest,
Boreal Forest
20 lakes, several rivers and streams cover an area of 1600 sq km. You would need some serious time to cover all corners of the park.
Liz and Anders at Matheson Lake, in Meadow Lake Provincial Park.
Meadow Lake Provincial Park is a great place to kick back at some of the best beaches in Saskatchewan. Boat or windsurf at a new spot every day, or take a quiet paddle down a rugged shoreline for a close-up view of loons, ducks or maybe even a browsing moose or a great blue heron.

Anders and mom (Ruth)
The park has lots of room for campers with 12 campgrounds and 928 campsites. Of  those, over 300 have electric services. There are 3 stores in the park, mini-golf, horse back riding and more.
Lunch in Meadow Lake Park
Another lake
If you are visiting Saskatchewan, add this park to your list of places to stay. More information is available on line.

A few more days and we will be on our way south to Cypress Hills Provincial Park. More picturs from this trip, just click on our Picasa Web Album below
Meadow Lake Park & Jack Fish Lake, SK to Cypress Provincial Park, SK

Cheers,

Anders and Liz