Grasslands National Park, located in southwestern Saskatchewan, is the only prairie national park in Canada. It covers 907 square kilometres (350 square miles) of one of Canada’s last remaining undisturbed prairie grasslands.
The grasses are the heart and soul of the prairies. This unique ecosystem is home to 70 different species of grass, over 50 different species of wildflower and many rare and exotic species of wildlife, including the Burrowing Owl, Pronghorn Antelope, Prairie Rattlesnake and Short-horned Lizard. It’s also the only place in Canada where Black-footed Ferrets and Black-tailed Prairie Dogs exist in their native habitat.
Grasslands National Park has a rich cultural heritage that tells that story of survival and persistence. Ancient teepee rings and bison drive lanes are just a few of the remnants of the First Nations people who once called this region home, while old corrals and homesteads mark the end of the ‘wild west.’
In 2009, the Royal Astronomical Society declared Grasslands National Park a Dark Sky Preserve. The vast, open landscape holds some of the darkest skies in Canada, making it the perfect place for visitors to view the night sky at its best. Grasslands National Park follows Parks Canada’s Best Practices for Outdoor Lighting, which will not only preserve the night sky, but also the billion-year old natural day-night cycle for the park’s flora and fauna.
When to Visit: Spring and fall, when temperatures are cool enough to comfortably walk around the park
Weather: Summers see very high daytime temperatures averaging mid-high 20s°C and often in the 30s°C. The park receives very little snow in the winter, but winter temperatures average around -20°C in December and January.
Summer Activities: Astronomy, backpacking, birding, camping, driving tours, geocaching, hiking, horseback riding, photography, wildlife viewing
Winter Activities: Hiking, and very rarely cross-country skiing
Where to Stay:
Grasslands National Park offers two types of camping: Back Country and Front Country Camping. Back Country Camping is a wilderness camping experience, where you can literally set up your tent wherever you please. Front Country Camping takes place at two former ranch yards within the park and are best suited to car camping (trailers and tents) or self-contained RVs.
Limited essential services such as restaurants, fuel, camping and accommodations can be found in the villages of Val Marie and Mankota (West Block) and the villages of Glenworth and Mankota (East Block).
Getting to Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park has two separate blocks: The West Block, which features the Frenchman River Valley, and the East Block, which features the Killdeer Badlands and the Wood Mountain Uplands. The West Block is accessed near the village of Val Marie on Highways #4 and #18. The East block is accessed near the town of Wood Mountain on Highway #18.
From Swift Current: 1.5 hours
Regina: 4 hours
Saskatoon: 4 hours
Calgary: 6 hours
Winnipeg: 10 hours
Billings, Montana: 5 hours