This is an introduction to the region in the Canadian Prairies known as the Cypress Hills. This is the first in a four part in-depth series of one of the most mystical places on Earth.
Perhaps the most amazing place on the prairies, this special region is the highest point between the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec and the Great Canadian Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. The Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, found in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, is Canada’s only Interprovincial Park.
The beautiful prairie oasis rises gracefully from the rustic prairie grasses and contains an amazing forest ecosystem. This magical place is home to a variety of unique species that draws visitors and experts from around the world.
Scientists believe that the park was formed during the last ice age. They believe that as the glaciers moved across the earth, the earth in this area pushed up between the icy plates and remained untouched. The result is approximately 220 bird species, more than 700 species of plants, and a mixture of animals including coyotes, wild turkeys, moose, elk, and cougars. Some of these species such as the Lodge Pole Pine and several orchids can’t be found anywhere else in the area,
In the early years of the park, the region was a center to the Aboriginal people and settlers in the area. As time went by, they were settled onto a reserve that remains there today. The park was then split into three distinct parts and ran by the Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Federal governments.
It soon became apparent that the secret to the park’s future would involve everyone working together to protect this vital area. In response, the park officially became an Interprovincial Park with the signing of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Agreement on August 25, 1989. Today, the park is still referred to in three blocks – Cypress Hills Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills Alberta, and Fort Walsh– but everyone, including the local residents work together.
The Saskatchewan side of the park, just south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, has managed to find the perfect balance between tourist’s haven and a taste of the natural untamed world. Elkwater, Alberta, the Alberta portion of the park, contains a large, beautiful lake with a small taste of civilization hidden in its wild arms.
Combining the two of them is a quiet back country road that is completely impassible when it rains, but it offers you a look of the forest that cannot be seen any other way. Lastly, the northern region of the park can be found to the west of Maple Creek. Called Fort Walsh, this region holds a National Historic Site and tells of the hardships and the good times of days gone by for all of the area’s early residents.
To be continued…
(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/canada/cypress-hills-saskatchewan-alberta-1/)