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Saskatchewan – Grasslands National Park
I woke with a start, I thought I was blocking the field entrance to an agricultural machine, but it was just a loud truck passing by. It was relatively early, but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I have had a quick breakfast and I hit the road. During a break, I spoke with a friend who lives in Saskatoon and she convinced me to visit the Grasslands National Park (Grasslands).
A characteristic of this park is that it is split in two areas remote of 160 km from each other. I came from the east, so I started by searching for information or a reception center on this side. Bad decisions and bad directions, made me drive 100 km to find only park brochures … the same you can find on the internet. 🙁
After that, I went to the west side of the park, where I found the interpretation center of the park, in Val Marie village. I arrived around 4pm which was a little late to visit the park. I stayed in the village and I took the opportunity to skype with a friend and walk a little around. The village was pretty deserted and all the streets were not paved. I parked haphazardly for the night in a street.
In bed early, wake up early … but 6am is too early ! And as the weather was not good, I went back to sleep until 9am. From 10 am to noon, I went to the cafe / museum / village library. I have been able to charge my devices and send some pictures. It was only after I left the park.
The park is very large and as the name suggests it is only a large meadow. There is not much to do on foot, ten strolls or hikes nothing more, and most are short and easy. The recommended route is a discovery loop of 80 km to drive with stops at some information boards. They describe the flora and fauna or some historical aspects of the area. I stopped to eat at 2pm at the “Frenchman Valley” camping. The weather has steadily improved during the day and at 6pm, it was sunny and warm. Of the 80 km, I have seen many “prairie dog”, one or two bisons. There was also a warning for rattlesnakes … but in order to protect them, so that drivers do not drive over them. They are a protected species in the park.
Only 35 km of the 80 are actually in the park and deserve to really spend some time there, but I do not think you can do the route in reverse or turn around when you want.
After this loop, I ended the day with a hike of 5 km, “70 Mile Butte.” On the same site, there is also another hike, even shorter “Eagle Butte.” The trailhead is shared by the two hikes, then at an intersection a sign shows the direction of “70 Mile Butte.” At the top there is a rewarding scenery of the surrounding plains and hills. I did a little nap at the top and I hiked back to the car.
Next stop : Sceptre village to see « The Great Sand Hills ».