Difficulty - Easy to Advanced
Frontcountry and backcountry hikes available
GRASSLANDS NATIONAL PARK HIKING
Grasslands National Park located in the south of Saskatchewn is one of the most unique and interesting geological locations in the province. Created by erosion from glacier meltwater, what has been left behind are stunning vistas, bison herds and the Frenchman River Valley.
The Grasslands National Park is a Light Preserve, which means that they limit as much artificial light as possible within the park. If you want to star gaze this might be one the best places in Saskatchewan to do so.
The hiking and camping is the park are quite different than other areas as there are not trees for shelter. You need plan accordingly to visit here as in the summer it can get extremely hot and dry.
There are also many endangered animals in the park, make sure to follow all park rules on how to interact with these animals. Some areas are off limits to visitors to protect the fragile species, ensure that you respect these rules.
There are two blocks to the park the West Block and the East Block. Both have similar landscapes but offer different excursions depending on what you would like to visit.
The West Block is about an hour south from Swift Current and the main reception centre is in the town of Val Marie.
The East Block is about an hour south of Assiniboia you can find more information at the McGowan House at the Rock Creek Campground.
Depending on how many days you have you can explore both sections of the park but if you only have a weekend I suggest picking one of the two and exploring just that section. Just another excuse to come back!
There are options for both front country and back country hiking in the park. Those who want to do backcountry are free to explore the park anyway they choose, however remember to respect those areas that are fragile.
For front country hiking there are numerous hikes to explore with varying difficulty. You can find a list of the hikes here. The ratings are from easy to difficult but don't be too discouraged. Any resonably healthy adult can conquer all these trails.
Recently, the park was explored by M&M from Muenster, SK and here is what they had to say about the 70 Mile Butte Hike. All photography was provided by them as well!
70 Mile Butte Hike
5km Rating - Moderate to Difficult
The 70 Mile Butte is the highest point in the park, giving you the opportunity to stand on top of the world. From the vantage point there is nothing obstructing your view. It is recommended to visit either early in the morning or near dusk to see the sunrise/set over the valley. (Make sure if you are exploring near dusk to bring a flashlight for the descent)
It will take you roughly an hour to an hour and a half to walk to the top and back. Be careful if it has recently rained as the soil turns very muddy and can make treking difficult. M&M visited in early spring and were blown away by the abundance of spring flowers along the path. Currently, it is not well marked but upgrades are coming so in the future it should be easier to find.
Another option is to take the Eagle Butte hike from the same location. It is only 2km and offers a shorter excursion if you are looking for it.
There is a parking lot at the trailhead and a bathroom.
The best time to visit is in May and June when the grasslands are in full bloom with flowers. The Grasslands National Park has many native plants that are harder to find in other parts of the province.
Hiking in the Grasslands National Park will be like no other hike in the province. Make sure you are carrying adequate water, are carrying a compass (that you know how to use) and pick up maps from the visitor centres. Navigating the park can be a bit of a challenge.
The Grasslands National Park is split between the West Block and the East Block. These are directions to get to the visitor centers where you can get all the information you need.
1) West Block - the visitor centre is in the Town of Val Marie, that is located where Highway 18 and 4 meet. Most people take Highway 4 south from Swift Current. The visitor centre is located south of where the two highways meet on Highway 4, just off of Centre St.
2) East Block - the visitor centre is located at the McGowan Vistor Center. To get there get on Highway 2. Once you pass Killdeer drive south for another for 3.5km, you will then turn west (right) on a grid road towards Lonesome Butte. This is the first grid road past the Highway 18 turnoff.
Drive for 8.5km then turn south, you will then take your first right (head west) which will take you towards the McGowan Visitor Center.
West Block Visitor Center
East Block McGowan Visitor Center
Did you visit here? See something cool? Have your own recommendation? Let us know!
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