I can't say enough about Grasslands National Park. It is a real treasure and one that, while I wouldn't want to see it over run with tourists, should be better promoted.
We stayed in Val Marie, the best bet for people wanting to visit the park. There are a few options open but those seeking a high end spa treatment, supper at the Keg and a round of golf might as well drive on to Banff.
The Crossing B&B and campground give you the option of sleeping in a tipi for a few days, Rosefield B&B is a bit more remote but not quite as off the grid as it claims to be but my favorite is The Convent. It is just that, an old convent, converted into a B&B by Robert and Mette Duncan. Breakfast of course is included but smart diners will chose to eat supper there as well. Mette does the cooking and it is the best place to eat in town, bar none. .
The couple also have a great house they will rent for a week at a time. Completely renovated by Robert it has all the amenities including satellite TV if you want to waste time watching the tube. There are three bedrooms, a couple of sitting rooms and a fully equipped kitchen. All for $600 a week. We stayed there and loved it.
Robert is they guy to talk to if you want to get off the beaten track. He knows the area like to back of his hand and is willing to share his knowledge with very little prodding. He steered us to a very special spot outside the park about 15 km from town. It has scores of tipi rings, a large medicine ring, a couple of ceremonial turtles and perhaps a few burial cairns. I have seldom been to a spot with so much historical significance and it has no signed pointing to it, no explanatory kiosks and isn't noted on any of the maps I found.
There are over 3000 archaeological sites within the park.
We spent a good deal of time exploring Grasslands. Photographing wild flowers, hunting out bison and looking for rattlesnakes. (We did find bison but struck out with snakes) We specially loved it during the time photographers call the golden hour, just before sunset. The light is magnificent and I took over a thousand photographs. Some of the sunsets would take your breath away.
So, don't wait, head to Grasslands and get out of the natural prairie grasses, hike up to the top of a butte and savour the prairie wind.
|A gopher having a bad day|