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Northern Alberta Has Its Own Little Badlands & You Have To See It To Believe It

Posted on June 24, 2024 by Britanny Burr

Drumheller and the surrounding area gets its fair share of the spotlight when it comes to iconic badlands in Alberta. Well, you might be surprised to find out that there’s another hidden wonder in Alberta of a similar nature but with way less foot traffic.

Hidden in the heart of northwestern Alberta lies Kleskun Hill Natural Area. This preserved natural area is a captivating blend of natural beauty, geological wonder, and rich history. This gem is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and history buffs alike. Located approximately 30 km east of Grande Prairie, along Highway 43, near Bezanson, Kleskun Hill Natural Area offers a special glimpse into Alberta’s diverse landscape and cultural heritage.

The area stands out as one of the most significant remnants of native prairie in northern Alberta, providing a rare opportunity to experience a landscape that has largely disappeared due to agriculture and development. It’s home to some of the last remaining badlands in Peace Country, a rarity in the province. The badlands are characterized by their steep, eroded hills and valleys, showcasing layers of sedimentary rock that tell a story millions of years in the making. The rock formations are visually stunning and offer a glimpse into Earth’s ancient past. This place is so stunning and unique that you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Death Valley. Truly, you won’t believe you’re still in Alberta, let alone Canada.

Let’s Talk Geology

Kleskun Hill is renowned for its distinctive geological features, which set it apart from other natural areas in Alberta. The hills are part of the Kleskun Hills Formation, which dates back millions of years from the accumulation of sand, volcanic ash, and clay. This geological marvel showcases a variety of sedimentary rock layers, providing an exceptional opportunity for visitors to witness the Earth’s history up close.

The area is characterized by its striking badlands, featuring steep, eroded hills, hoodoos, and exposed rock faces. Millions of years of erosion have shaped these formations, creating a landscape that is both dramatic and inspiring. The special geological features make Kleskun Hill a popular destination for geologists or anyone with a keen interest in geography and nature.

Why You Should Visit

Kleskun Hill Natural Area offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, this natural haven has something to offer. Explore the quaint historic village museum, which provides visitors with an in-depth look at pioneer history. The museum features a collection of restored buildings, including a schoolhouse, church, and homestead, allowing visitors the chance to step back in time and experience life from years gone by.

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The beautiful and unique rock formations of Kleskun Hill Natural Area in Alberta / Alberta Parks

Hiking and Nature Walks

The area has endless, well-maintained trails that wind through the hills and valleys, offering stunning views of the unique landscape. The trails vary in difficulty, making them suitable for both casual walkers and avid hikers. An easy 1.5 km loop will take you through the most diverse areas of native upland prairie vegetation in the Peace region. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildflowers, butterflies, birds, and other small animals.

Setting Up Camp

For those looking to set up camp, Kleskun Hill Natural Area offers a rustic yet comfortable camping experience. The campsites are well-maintained and offer basic amenities. Camping here allows you to fully appreciate the magic of the area, stargazing under the clear, northern skies.

Taking All The Pictures

With its incredible geological formations, Kleskun Hill is a paradise for photographers. Capture the dramatic contrasts of the eroded hills, the vibrant colours of wildflowers, and the sweeping vistas before you.

Kleskun Hill is also a site of cultural significance. It’s a part of Indigenous territory and is the ancestral site of the Beaver First Nation. It’s a true testament to people who have long cherished and respected the land. Visitors can learn about the region's Indigenous cultures and the deep connection these communities have with nature.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor to this corner of the province, Kleskun Hill Natural Area offers an unforgettable experience. Its combination of stunning geological formations and rich cultural history makes it a must-visit destination for anyone. The area’s serene environment provides a peaceful retreat and the opportunity to witness the prairie wildness of this ancient landscape. This summer, head north and discover the beauty northwestern Alberta has to offer.

Britanny Burr is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Great West Media & Southern Alberta Newspapers Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. The Hot Summer Guide is a special feature about summer activities, bucket list adventures, staycation options, road trips, attractions, events, and road trip-worthy food & beverage destinations across Alberta. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

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