Grasslands National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Are you and your RV looking to discover Saskatchewan's Great Southwest? If so, look no further than Grasslands National Park. Located near the village of Val Marie, Grasslands National Park is one of 47 national parks in Canada and the only one that represents the prairie grasslands natural region. Indigenous habitation in and around the park area dates back to 10,000 years ago and the park has one of the largest collections of undisturbed pre-contact cultural resources in Canada

Grasslands National Park is very unique as it protects one of the nation's few remnants of dry mixed-grass and shortgrass prairie grassland. While there are many attractions to the park, Grasslands is renowned for its stunning rolling hills and unbelievably clear night skies, which attract people from all over to come and experience the beauty of the park.

During your stay you will have many different fun activities available for you to enjoy. Some of the unique seasonal events in the park include a guided wagon ride, lasso practice at a historic ranch or talks around the fire with park interpreters. There are also two visitor centers, horseback riding, geocaching, kayaking, hiking and birdwatching opportunities so you will never be bored!

For RV lovers wanting to stay the night you have the choice of two different campgrounds at Grasslands National Park. Rock Creek Campground (also home to the McGowan Visitor Center) is located in the East Block of the park. Here you will find 24 RV electric sites. Frenchman Valley Campground is located in the west block of the park and features 20 electrical sites. Peak season in Grasslands National Park run from May through to October.

RV Rentals in Grasslands National Park

Transportation in Grasslands National Park

Driving

Grasslands National Park is located near Val Marie in southern Saskatchewan and the bottom of the park is right on the Canada/United States border. The park is massive, encompassing a total of 224,128 acres (or 907 square kilometers). Due to this gigantic size the park can be accessed a variety of ways depending on what attractions you want to see and what campground you plan to stay at. The West Block of Grasslands National Park can be found 74 miles (120km) south of Swift Current, and the East Block is 132 miles (214 km) south of Moose Jaw.

Before you begin your journey you should really plan out your trip as the drive from one end of the park to the other can take around an hour and a half. There are multiple roads within the park; however, there is only one that goes the whole way through. Since the park is so large there are limited towns with supplies near the park so it is important for you to stock up on what you need before you begin your journey. During the winter time the park will be very hard to access due to the heavy snowfall that occurs within the area. Contact one of the two park offices if you are unsure about the upcoming weather conditions.

Parking

There is plenty of parking available to visitors of Grasslands National Park.

Public Transport

Unfortunately there are no public transport options that will take you to Grasslands National Park.

Campgrounds and parking in Grasslands National Park

Campsites in Grasslands National Park

Reservations camping

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Frenchman Valley Campground

Frenchman Valley Campground is located in the West Block of Grasslands National Park. This campground is the smaller of the two available at the park and features spacious sites, clean facilities and breathtaking views that could even feature bison roaming freely in the distance.

There are 20 RV friendly sites in Frenchman Valley Campground that include three pull through and one wheelchair accessible site that all have 50 amp electric hookups. Each site also has a picnic table and grill available for you to use. Other amenities within Frenchman Valley Campground include water collection points, showers, fire pits, a picnic area and a dump station. The campground is also pet friendly and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all major networks.

Reservations for Frenchman Valley Campground are available for the season from mid May until early September. After early September the park is first come, first served until the campground closes for the season in mid October.

Rock Creek Campground

The Rock Creek Campground is located in the East Block of Grasslands National Park and is a great option for RV campers who are looking to be close to the McGowan Visitor Centre. The campsites are quite spacious, the campground is well maintained and the site pads are grass.

There are 24 RV friendly sites in Rock Creek Campground and they all have 50 amp electric hookups. Each site also has a picnic table and grill available for you to use. Other amenities within Rock Creek Campground include water collection points, showers, summer kitchen for shade and cooking, a picnic area and a dump station. The campground is also pet friendly and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all major networks.

Reservations for Rock Creek Campground are available for the season from mid May until early September. After early September the park is first come, first served until the campground closes for the season in mid October.

Seasonal activities in Grasslands National Park

In-Season

Kayaking

During the summertime in Grasslands National Park a popular activity for people of all ages is to jump in a canoe or kayak and go for a paddle. The Frenchman River is a great place to explore and you can venture down the river among the rolling hills and clear skies. Be sure to be on the lookout for wildlife in the area - especially if you make it down to the Belza bridge area. If you don't have a kayak guided tours are available. For more information contact the park office.

Visitor Centers

Grasslands National Park is equipped with not one but two visitors centers! The visitor center in west block will provide any information you want to know or need before you venture into the park. The center also has visual displays and a grasslands movie area. Rock Creek Visitor Center in the east block is a repurposed ranch home where you can learn about the Indigenous Peoples of the area, the paleontology and geology of the area, ranchers and early homesteaders along with the early development of Saskatchewan.

Fossil Fever

If you are lucky enough to be in Grasslands National Park during August you might get to experience all the fun of the five-day Fossil Fever event. The festival celebrates the history of ancient life in the park and you can join in on the fun. Small groups will get a hands-on lesson as they accompany paleontologists from the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and McGill University on a day’s dig. After all the fun the day is ended by dancing under the stars at a country hoedown. 12 spots are available per day so reserve early if you are interested.

Off-Season

Wildlife Viewing

One of the many highlights that Grasslands National Park has to offer is the experience to view some of the rarest wildlife in all of Canada. The park is rich with diverse populations of wildlife, including over twenty species at risk that you may not get the chance to see anywhere else in the wild. If you are lucky you may get the chance to spot the black-footed ferret, short-horned lizard or plains bison. We recommend looking for wildlife at either dusk or dawn.

Horseback riding

Horseback riding is a traditional form of recreation in the area and many visitors consider it one of the best ways to enjoy the breathtaking landscape of the park. The park is open year round for you to explore on horseback and equestrian camping is available South of the Belza day use area in the West Block, along with the Rock Creek Campground in the East Block. If you do not have your own horse you can contact the park and they will recommend a local outfitter that will help you with your riding experience.

Hiking

Checking out the trails in the park is one of the best ways for you to connect with the beautiful landscape and experience the park in the most natural way possible. Due to the limited services within the park and its vast acreage preparation is key to having a safe experience. In total there are 12 trails available for you to explore, ranging from around half a mile (750 meters) to seven miles (11km). If you are looking for a moderate hike we recommend the Three Sisters Trail which will eventually lead you to the Saskatchewan Natural History monument. This monument marks the establishment of the first Black-tailed Prairie Dog sanctuary in Canada.

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