Have you ever visited the east block of Grasslands National Park?
My thoughts about the beauty of this land seem to be a jumbled mess in my mind and I really feel the only way for you to understand is for you to see it for yourself, but here are a few words about the weekend I spent at the park with my eleven year old step daughter.
We spent three nights in this National Park. We glamped it up in an Otentik for a night, chilled ourselves in a tipi the next, and cuddled in my camper van for the third night. All three accommodations were great, but Grace says the Otentik was her favorite.
If you’ve researched Grasslands, you’d know that it is a dinosaur hotspot in Saskatchewan. We were lucky enough to join in on the annual Fossil Fever event. For a whole day, we joined paleontologists at a secret location to help excavate real fossils and bones. My answer to the question of which dinosaur is my favorite might help you understand my limited knowledge of these historic beings. “Little Foot.”
But, even being an amateur, I didn’t feel out of place among our diverse group. We had all ages of explorers along. Solo women. Retired couples. Parents and children.
The paleontologists were natural teachers who loved sharing their passion for fossils in a way that each of us could understand. They answered questions of all skill levels and encouraged us to get right in on the quest of researching the past.
It’s not every day you get to see a real life Triceratops fossil be carefully dug out of a hillside. Or that you can put your finger on the exact line of mass extinction that was caused by a giant asteroid. Grace and I passed up the chance to shovel dirt away from the site and instead, filled a zip lock bag with small pieces of fossils, including gar fish scales that are still around because they were covered with enamel.
Hiking around the dig site as they explained the history of paleontology in the park was the perfect way to take in more of the stunning views. The scenery was incredible. Like something out of a movie.
The Badlands Blast was a celebration held on Saturday. The park filled with locals and families enjoyed wagon rides, kid’s games, a delicious supper, live music, and presentations from the researchers. It was fun to see the park staff, along with friends and family, all jam out with musical instruments. They wiped the rain off the wooden dance floor and a few people showed off some moves.
Grace and I had spent the morning on a long hike. We ventured over 4 km, one way, always wanting to know what was over the next hill and afraid to miss out on another spectacular site. Our prairie legs were tired, but Grace still managed to stay out until the band stopped playing that night. I beat her to bed, listening to the entertainment from the warmth of my sleeping bag, while realizing that waiting for your kids to return home at a decent hour is hard on a parent. Let’s call it payback! ( and this is only preteens!)
We met a lot of great people during our short time at Grasslands and that’s always a part of the adventure. From photography lessons from the young boy next door, invites for smores around the campfire, shared fishing pails, and random conversations, it was a weekend of making memories.
I’m not sure why it took me 37 years of living in Saskatchewan to visit this majestic place, but I do know that I will be going back!
( 2021 Update: I have been back multiple times!!!)
To stay informed of things to do in Grasslands National Park and Southwest Saskatchewan, visit this website that I now take care of.
Let me know what your favorite part of Grasslands National Park is.