Imagine, a massive 17 ton rock falls more than 200 miles from the mountains and lands in the middle of the prairie landscape. That is exactly what happened in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada. How about that for a fascinating stop in your Alberta travel plans?
Of course the idea that this massive rock rolled just shy of 250 miles isn’t possible. This large chunk of quartzite, known simply as ‘The Big Rock’ or ‘Okotoks Erratic Rock,’ was actually carried away by glacier ice more than 10 000 years ago. Quartzite is one of the hardest substances on earth, but this trait also makes it very fragile.
Experts believe that an ancient rockslide caused this piece of mountain to land on a glacier that was flowing down the Athabasca River that once flowed wildly past Jasper. Eventually, the glaciers began to melt and deposited into the middle of the grassland. As one traveler wrote about in his post, the local Aboriginals have their own unique story about the rock’s origins. For more information see this great page from Alberta Heritage.
The true magnitude of the stone is understood when you stand beside it. It has a way of humbling you and giving you a true perception of size and the realities of this world. It isn’t the only one. In fact the region from Jasper into the northern half of Montana is known as the Foothills Erratics Train and is the largest in North America.
If you do decide to travel to Okotoks, there are many other interesting things to do in and around the region. Several different tours are available that will take you through Okotoks and throughout Kananaskis and the Foothills. The town is only a 15 minute drive from Calgary.
The beautiful outdoors attracts people here from all over the world. In the winter, the region has some of the best skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing in the country. Snowmobiling is a popular activity with the local residents and tourists alike.
For summer travel plans, there are tons of beautiful trails that you can hike, ride, and drive. The Cowboy Trail is a great opportunity to experience real modern life on a ranch with a taste of the area’s history. Water sports such as water skiing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canoeing are also popular sumer activities in the region.
How about a visit to the Chinook Honey Company? You get to tour a real bee keeping operation in action. You get to see how the honey gets from the bee to the table as well as other delicious treats and interesting items such as beeswax candles, beauty products, honey mead, and honey chocolate! They offer tours and tastings all year around.
One site embedded deep in the local Aboriginal culture is the World Historic Site known as Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. (Virtual tour anyone? It takes a few extra seconds to load, but it is the next best thing to being there.) For almost 6 000 years, the local tribes would chase the buffalo up this massive cliff and run them off the edge. The buffalo would fall approximately 10 meters and either die or be hurt badly enough that the people could kill them The meat, bones, hides, and every aspect of the animal was used for many necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and tools.
Many more sites and scenes are hidden throughout the region. The natural history of the land and the deep culture of the people here are displayed for all the world to explore. Whether you arrive by plane, car, bike or two feet, there is something for everyone in Okotoks.
(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/alberta/massive-mountain-rock-travels-200-miles-rocky-mountains/)