Saskatchewan is a Canadian province known for its wheat, flatness, and not much else. However, in the southwest part of the province near the U.S. border lies one of the most unique and drivable places in North America.
Grasslands National Park is 907 square kilometers of road trip-appropriate terrain, scenery, and wildlife. A trip through Grasslands National Park (GNP) is a real road trip. Tourists looking for suburban luxury need not apply. GNP is natural luxury — land untouched by civilization where beautiful sights are currency.
Getting to 70 Mile Butte
Grasslands National Park has a West and East Block. Because it offers amenities and accommodations, the West Block is more accessible. It is therefore the focus of this article. The West Block can be accessed via Swift Current from the north and Malta, Montana from the south.
The Swift Current way is the standard. The 120 km drive takes tourists into the town of Val Marie, the gateway to the park, and a few kilometers later deposits them at 70 Mile Butte if they take the appropriate turn.
There they can explore the bluffs and vistas of this expansive area by foot – or they can drive back and take the ecotour.
Ecotour Scenic Drive
This 20 km self-guided tour winds through the middle of the park and is a road tripper’s dream. A tourist never has to leave their car to see spectacular coulees, hills, cliffs, rivers, and skies; homesteading, ranching, and archaeological sites; and animals like bison and black-tailed prairie dogs.
Grasslands National Park is one of the only locations in Saskatchewan where these animals live wild. The ecotour is part of an 80 km round trip starting in Val Marie. There are no gas stations in the park, so make sure to put lots of gas in your dependable vehicle.
Because park roads can be hard to traverse in inclement weather, tourists should take a vehicle that has been highly-rated for an array of weather conditions.
Accommodations and Tips
There are few gas stations outside the park either, so travelers are advised to fuel up long before they enter GNP. As for accommodations, there are several rustic yet refined inns and bed and breakfasts inside the park and out.
A trip to GNP doesn’t have to be a single-day event. Only the tip of the iceberg has been uncovered. The park also offers horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, stargazing, and backcountry camping for the adventurous breed of tourist.
Grasslands National Park is a road trip for people who wish to see nature unencumbered. There’s beauty in bright lights, fast cars, and towering skyscrapers, certainly, but GNP’s beauty is primal. There are no conditions on such beauty; it hits you in your humanity.