Everyone has heard of the Alberta Badlands and Dinosaur Provincial Park, but did you know that there is a miniature badlands outcropping just East of Grande Prairie?
The Kleskun Hills are a unique feature in the Peace Country. They are the only example of “skeletonized hills” (badland style) existing this far north. Soft bedrock from an ancient river delta was somehow left behind during centuries of erosion, leaving 100 metre high hills with clearly visible layers of deposition. Each stripe or layer commemorates an era of geological history, including clays, coal, sand and even fossils of marine life and dinosaurs. You can move horizontally through time as you climb the hills to see the spectacular view of the park and the prairies.
The park is also home to one of the few remaining regions of native upland vegetation in the Peace Country, and it is certainly the largest. Again, it’s one of the northernmost examples of such an environment. At the Kleskun Hills you can see some plants that are otherwise rare in this area. Be careful to follow the trails so you don’t damage the vegetation.
While you’re at the park you have to stop and see the museum. There are several buildings full of artifacts, including a school (that opened in 1916) and barn built by the pioneers. You can also see the wagon ruts of the Edson Trail, still carved into the prairie 100 years after pioneers passed through. One of the last battles of the Beaver tribe was fought at the Kleskun Hills. You can see a memorial to five braves who fell during the skirmish.
Your exploring will take you a good part of the day. If you decide to stay, there is a campsite right beside the hills! It’s an atmospheric place to sit around fire and imagine the people who have passed this spot over the years… not to mention the dinosaurs!
Have you got a fun summer spot not far from Spirit River to tell people about? Drop a post at firstname.lastname@example.org!