Our thanks to Ralph Fuchs for providing this month’s Speaker Night presentation
On Wednesday, January 11, Ralph Fuchs, a member of the St. Albert Photography Club, gave a presentation on the photography tour he and his son Ryan took to Grasslands National Park in 2015. For those who aren’t familiar with this park, it is located in southwestern Saskatchewan, about 165 km east of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border and right on the Saskatchewan/US border. Grasslands NP is one of Canada’s newer parks, having been established in 2001. Within the park is found one of the few remaining areas of the native prairie grasslands and a number of quite rare animals that are found nowhere else in the country. It is a great destination for anyone wishing to photograph them in their natural setting.
Some of the species of wildlife you’ll be almost certain to see include: Plains Bison, re-established in the area after many years from animals moved from Elk Island National Park in 2006; Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, found only here in their natural environment in Canada; Pronghorn Antelope; Whitetail and Mule Deer; rattlesnakes; coyotes; and several others that are not so easy to spot, such as the Black-footed Ferret, burrowing owl and badger. Most of these animals can be spotted from the main road through the park but for those who are more energetic there are several hiking trails of a variety of lengths as well.
Other places that might warrant a visit while in the area are: the ghost town of Orkney, just west of the park; the Great Sandhills; and Cyprus Hills Provincial Park. The Town of Val Marie has a couple of restaurants, grocery store and liquor outlet, a card lock for gasoline and diesel fuel, bed and breakfast, a campground with full services, a hotel (questionable quality). Nearby is The Crossing, with a campground (a couple of sites with power), teepees and a couple of suites for rent. In the park there is a campground with basic facilities.
If you like spending time where there are not too many other visitors, lots of wildlife (some of it quite unique) and different scenery, you will probably enjoy Grasslands National Park.