A prairie sanctuary and a northern treasure
Saskatchewan has two national parks: Prince Albert National Park of Canada, in the north central region of the province, and Grasslands National Park of Canada in the southwest.
Grasslands National Park of Canada, located in southwest Saskatchewan, is a sanctuary where you can see some of the last untouched prairie grasses left in North America. The rolling grasslands and rugged landscape of weathered cliffs, deep coulees and mysterious badlands can be seen. A rich variety of wildlife provides opportunities to spot white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, sage grouse and golden eagles. Endangered and threatened species include ferruginous hawks, short-horned lizards and burrowing owls. In the Frenchman River Valley, listen for the "barking" of the black-tailed prairie dogs – this is the only place in Canada where these colonies are found in their natural habitat.
Grasslands National Park is still growing and visitor services are limited. However, the Information Centre at Val Marie (west block) has displays, interpretive programs, brochures and videos plus a tour on audio cassette. Throughout July and August, morning guided tours of the park are also available. And if you’re travelling to the Rodeo Ranch Museum in Wood Mountain Regional Park – information on the east block of Grasslands National Park can also be found there.
Popular activities available within the park include hiking, primitive random tent camping, birding and wildlife viewing and nature photography. Many visitors come just to get away from it all, and experience the landscape as it would have been at the turn of the century.
Prince Albert National Park is one of Saskatchewan’s most popular four-season destinations, a place where you can mix northern wilderness encounters with the comforts of a lakeside resort. The park covers 388,000 hectares/one million acres in an area of transition from aspen parkland to boreal forest that includes some 1,500 lakes and streams.
Wildlife in the park reflects the changing habitat. Moose, wolves and caribou inhabit the northern forests while elk, deer and badgers inhabit the southern parkland region. Bison roam freely in the southwest corner of the park, where pockets of fescue grassland can be found. This herd is one of only two such herds protected within a Canadian national park.
The Town of Waskesiu, within Prince Albert National Park, has a range of accommodations and services plus two major campgrounds. Campgrounds with varying levels of services can be found in outlying areas in a variety of settings. With a backcountry permit, visitors can hike or canoe and camp in remote reaches of the park, or visit the log cabin of the world’s most celebrated naturalist of the 1930’s – Grey Owl.