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Spotlight: Grande Prairie

Trumpeter swans and prehistoric fossils make this a fun destination

From dinosaur bones to wildness hikes and picture-perfect golf, the Grande Prairie region is a land where prehistoric monsters, frontier spirit and contemporary élan coalesce. Situated some 280 miles northwest of Edmonton, Alberta’s “Peace Country” boasts 10 provincial parks and recreation areas within just an hour’s drive of Grande Prairie, the regional hub that goes by the moniker of “Swan City” due to its proximity to the trumpeter swan’s migration route.

Into the Great Wide Open

You don’t have to explore too far in the Grande Prairie region to feel like you have crossed the last frontier. From gushing rivers where black bears hunt for salmon to bright-white canola fields brimming with butterflies, Alberta combines a raw beauty with recreational activities for every traveler.

Located 16 miles west of Grande Prairie, Saskatoon Island Provincial Park between Saskatoon Lake and Little Lake is Alberta’s second oldest provincial park. A federal migratory bird sanctuary, Saskatoon provides a haven to the threatened trumpeter swan as well as tundra swans, northern harriers and a variety of mammals including moose, muskrats, beavers, deer and coyotes. In addition to foraging for Saskatoon’s (purple berries), visitors can take advantage of a boat launch, several playgrounds and cross-country skiing in the winter.

With its majestic trees, plunging waterfalls, kaleidoscopic meadows, emerald lakes and translucent creeks, the Kakwa Wildland Park is a land of ethereal beauty. Located in the alpine and subalpine regions of the Rocky Mountain Natural Region, Sulphur Ridge and Coal Ridge form the park’s northern boundary. One of the park’s highlights is Kakwa Falls, Alberta’s tallest waterfall, which drops nearly 100 feet.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Jurassic World

Just 25 minutes by car southwest of Grande Prairie, Pipestone Creek is one of the richest dinosaur bone beds in the world. In 1974, science teacher Al Lakusta went for a ramble at Pipestone Creek and uncovered the remains of a type of as yet undiscovered horned dinosaur, the Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai (named after its founder). The new Phillip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, named after Canada’s leading paleontologist Dr. Philip Currie, was unveiled in 2015. Dr. Currie excavated fossils at what is considered the world’s largest site for Pachyrhinosaurus fossils.

Parks and Recreation

The community of Grande Prairie makes for a pleasant and convenient base for exploring the region. A series of walking/bike paths run around the entire circumference nearby Crystal Lake, and Golfing is big here. The Dunes Golf & Winter Club, south of Grande Prairie, offers the region’s most civilized golfing experience. The course’s green fairways, fringed with jackpine and spruce, provide stunning views.

For More Information

City of Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association
Travel Alberta