Saskatchewan: History in the hills

A mixture of forest, marsh and grassland, Saskatchewan's Cypress Hills are roamed by cowboys and home to a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

Situated in the southwest of Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills spans more than 400 square kilometres towards the Alberta border, with wide-open prairies, majestic forests and historic gems waiting to be discovered.

The hills provide the highest elevation between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador, with a section of The Great Trail passing through it. Hikers will be inspired by trails named ‘Whispering Pines’ and ‘Valley of the Windfall’. The reality doesn’t disappoint and its lakes and rivers lend themselves to a range of must-try water activities such as SUPing (stand-up paddle boarding).

THE COWBOY EXPERIENCE

Hidden in the northern slopes of Cypress Hills is the Historic Reesor Ranch, a cattle farm and real working ranch owned by the Reesor family since 1904. The ranch provides horse riding tours that are perfect for those that are looking for a real cowboy experience – lasso optional! Clients can just come for the day or opt to stay in the homely ranch house and get to know the horses.

Fort Walsh

In the middle of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park lies Fort Walsh National Historic Site. In the 1870s it was the heavily-armed headquarters of the North West Mounted Police, but today it transports visitors back in time to experience what life was like in the aftermath of the Battle of Little Blue Horn.

Starry skies

As the light fades over the Cypress Hills visitors flock to the Dark Sky Preserve to witness one of the most easily accessible and largest dark sky areas in North America. The preserve is a sanctuary from artificial light allowing a better nocturnal environment and, of course, an unobstructed view of the stars. 

Meet Scotty 

Scotty, a 65-million-year-old tyrannosaurus rex, awaits at the T.rex Discovery Center in Eastend and is one of the most complete preserved T.rex skeletons in the world. Alongside Scotty there are more fossil findings on display. Visitors can take a tour of Saskatchewan’s paleontological past. One of the world’s largest dino cemeteries is located in the region around the hilly Frenchman River Valley.

visitcypresshills.ca; tourismsaskatchewan.com