Grasslands National Park

Images from Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan

Bison viewing in Grasslands National Park

Posted by on 15. June 2012 in Blog / Journal, Grasslands National Park | Comments Off on Bison viewing in Grasslands National Park

Bison viewing in Grasslands National Park

This post is coming with a slight delay – I have been quite busy preparing for the photography trip to Iceland. In mid May I went to the Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan. After a week of rain, the vegetation was starting to look really green. There was so much moisture in the air that a thick layer of fog cloaked the Frenchman River Valley and provided some great photography opportunities. My buddy Larry captured me in action one morning, a tiny person in a vast open prairie. In addition to new moisture, sloughs and dugouts were quite full of water remaining from last year. The prairie in the Park looked quite soaked and ready for the new growing season. If we get a prolonged period of warm weather, the flowers could be very nice this year. I plan to visit the park again in late June, to photograph early summer flowers and blooming cacti. One change I noticed in the park is the more frequent occurrence of plains bison along the main Ecotour road in the West Block. Parks Canada brought a small herd of bison to the West Block in December of 2005. Sixty calves and 11 yearlings were brought in from the Elk Island National Park in Alberta. The bison were kept in enclosure and fed to help them get used to the new home, and then released into the Park in May of 2006. The herd quickly adapted to the new environment and produced several calves the first year. The number of bison steadily increased to 116 in 2018, 190 in 2010, with the estimated herd size for the end of this year of around 325 animals. The bison herd in the Grasslands National Park is large enough that park biologists expect to see the herd break into smaller groups. This might increase a chance for visitors to see the animals in a larger area of the West Block. I did see two small groups during my short stay in the Park. To control the spread of invasive plant species, Park managers have burnt several areas along the Ecotour road. The bison took advantage of the fresh grass regrowth, and could be seen frequently grazing in those spot. We spotted the first group near the black-tailed prairie dog colony closest to the north entrance to the West Block. This group was rather far and I need to use a long telephoto lens to capture a usable image. We saw the second group near the old Belza farmstead (right next to the new monstrous campground being build the park). Several males were grazing right next to the road and we had a chance to enjoy observing and photographing them. As an added bonus, we saw a coyote walk right behind the animals, respectfully keeping a safe distance. If you have a chance to visit the Grasslands National Park this year, I would recommend that you come in early summer. You might be rewarded with a sight of blooming prairie wildflowers and photograph wild prairie bison in a natural setting. Be especially careful during the rutting season (from mid July to mid August) when bulls are more aggressive and unpredictable in behaviour. Check at the Visitor Information Centre in Val Marie for the most current information about the bison location in the...

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Early winter in Grasslands National Park, East Block badlands

Posted by on 25. April 2012 in Grasslands National Park | Comments Off on Early winter in Grasslands National Park, East Block badlands

Early winter in Grasslands National Park, East Block badlands

Early winter in Grasslands National Park (East Block badlands). I love photographing fresh snow on the prairies in early winter. The grass still standing from the summer season has not been pushed down by the weight of snow yet, providing a gentle texture to the  rolling prairie landscapes. This photograph was taken in in the badlands of East Block. We were located very close to the north edge of the park, near the McGowan’s campground. It was cold enough prior to our trip in early December that we did not have any difficulties crossing several frozen creeks to reach this viewpoint. Back to the Grasslands National Park photo...

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Prairie near 70 Mile Butte at sunset, Grasslands National Park

Posted by on 24. April 2012 in Grasslands National Park | Comments Off on Prairie near 70 Mile Butte at sunset, Grasslands National Park

Prairie near 70 Mile Butte at sunset, Grasslands National Park

Prairie near 70 Mile Butte at sunset, Grasslands National Park – West Block. Last rays of setting sun light the hilly area east of the 70 Mile Butte. To reach this point, drive along the Ecotour Road until it descends down a steep slope into the Frenchman River valley. Park by the rattlesnake warning sign and follow a walking trail leading west from the small parking spot. Watch for rattlesnakes that frequent this area in the fall, when individual animals travel several kilometres to gather in their favourite warm spots – rattlesnake hibernacula – where they will spend 6-8 months protected from the cold winter weather. Back to the Grasslands National Park photo...

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Prairie landscape with clouds at sunset, Grasslands National Park

Posted by on 23. April 2012 in Grasslands National Park, Places | Comments Off on Prairie landscape with clouds at sunset, Grasslands National Park

Prairie landscape with clouds at sunset, Grasslands National Park

Prairie landscape with clouds at sunset, Grasslands National Park – West Block, Saskatchewan. This photograph was made one evening in late June, at the southern edge of the West Block very close to Montana border. Back to the Grasslands National Park photo...

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Winding trail through prairie at dawn, Grasslands National Park

Posted by on 1. April 2012 in Grasslands National Park | Comments Off on Winding trail through prairie at dawn, Grasslands National Park

Winding trail through prairie at dawn, Grasslands National Park

Winding trail through prairie at dawn, Grasslands National Park – East Block. The image was taken just before sunrise at the Dawson’s Viewpoint in East Block of Grasslands NP. This particular location on a ridge west of the Poverty Ridge Warden Station provides a great view of the badlands in East Block. Follow the marked fire trail that passes by the warden station. As soon as you enter the park (drive through a gate in barb wire fence), park you vehicle in the designated parking area and continue on foot. DO NOT drive on the prairie as your actions will damage the fragile ecosystem. A good example of past irresponsible behaviour can be seen in this picture. Back to the Grasslands National Park photo...

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