Southwest Saskatchewan is often overlooked, which can be great thing if you value some solo time in nature and history. Grasslands National Park covers an area of 907 km² (350 sq mi) and was developed to protect grasslands – one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The park is considered to have the most diverse natural sounds and the longest stretches of time without man-made noise, of all North American grasslands, and is designated as a dark sky preserve. There are thousands of archaeological areas within the park, including over 12,000 tipi rings. It is one of the largest concentrations of undisturbed pre-contact cultural resources in Canada. It’s also a haven to many prairie-dependent and very rare species, including Pronghorn Antelope, Burrowing Owl, Sprague’s Pipit, Long-billed Curlews, and Prairie Rattlesnake and has the only remaining Black-tailed Prairie Dog colonies in Canada. Plains Bison (Buffalo) have been reintroduced and roam freely within a 70 sq mi portion of the West Block of the park.
This 11.2 km (7 mi) loop trail in within that portion of the park, offers 360 degree views of native grassland, and climbs over 600 ft to overlook the Frenchman River Valley. The route begins across from the Belza day use area and is a single track marked with 5 ft flexible markers - commonly downed by buffalo - and is considered challenging due to the terrain, extreme heat, and relentless winds.
In summer, temperatures often reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and there is little to no shade throughout the park. Early mornings or evenings in the summer, or spring or fall days would be the most enjoyable time to visit. Take lots of water, watch out for rattlesnakes and buffalo, and enjoy the views.