We made it! Now for the hard part – as in all our National Parks, there is so much to know and see. Grasslands National Park – big skies, 70 species of grasses, badlands, abundant fossils, native prairie ecosystems and deep, dark night skies. It is where sky meets prairie at the northern extension of the great plains. The West Block centres on the Frenchman River Valley and the East Block features the Killdeer “Badlands”.
In 1874, the first dinosaur bones,discovered western Canada, were found here. Sitting Bull took refuge in the area with around 5000 Sioux after the defeat of General Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn. In 2006 Plains bison were reintroduced to the Grasslands and in 2009 it was declared a dark-sky preserve – which means they limit the amount of artificial light allowed. That makes it one of the best places to star gaze.
Grasslands is a story of survival and persistence! Teepee rings and bison drive lanes are remnants of Indigenous people who once called the prairie wilderness home. Old corrals and remnants of early ranching homesteads remind us of the end of the ‘wild west’ and the transition to settlement.
Tomorrow, I will give you some options on hiking trails (front and back country) in Grasslands. For now check out these photos – amazing!