RDRWA Outreach Update - Out & About (March 2016)


Where in Our Watershed can you find Wapti Elk and Horses almost side by side?


Ya Ha Tinda Ranch can be found in the foothills on the North bank of the Red Deer River and is the second stop on our trip down the Red Deer River.

Ya Ha Tinda Sign
Photo: Joey Temple

Stoney for “Mountain Prairie”, Ya Ha Tinda Ranch is 3,945 acres of Montane grasslands and mixed forest. The Red Deer River flows through the ranch for some 27 km before heading on towards Sundre. Here the river is much wider then up in the Skoki Valley as there is a marked decrease in slope slowing down the flow and the addition of water from many tributaries increasing the wetted width.

Aboriginal Camp
Photo: Archives Parks Canada

Located within the traditional territories of treaty 6 and 7, tipi rings, campsites and artifacts have all been unearthed in the area frequented by aboriginal peoples for some 6,400 years. Bison remains have also been found “in them there hills”. The bison would have kept the grasslands open and kept the mixed forests from taking over the area. Today the grasslands are losing out to the encroaching forest. Parks Canada have been working towards the reintroduction of bison to the montane grasslands of the eastern slopes. Ya Ha Tinda is to play a role in this reintroduction. To learn more check out - http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/domestic-bison-to-help-train-parks-canada-horses-at-ya-ha-tinda-ranch

The biodiversity of the area is rich with a number of keystone species. Grizzly, cougar, wolf, moose, deer, bighorn sheep and elk signs are often seen. Even Mountain bluebirds can be seen in the early spring nesting in stump snags along the forest edge.



Photos: Joey Temple

In the 1900s the Brewster Brothers had a grazing lease in the area where they raised and broke horses for their guiding and outfitting company. In 1917, Parks Canada took over the area. Once within the boundaries of what was then known as Rocky Mountains National Park, today Ya Ha Tinda falls outside of the Park bounderies. This larger park was broken down into the smaller parks known as Banff and Jasper. Today it is still owned by Parks Canada as a place to train and overwinter the horses used in Western Canada’s National Parks.

Ya Ha Tinda Ranch
Photo: Joey Temple

Park Wardens on Horseback
Photo: Joey Temple

In the early spring you can see park wardens working with their horses on the open meadows getting them ready for work in the summer, patrolling and protecting the backcountry of our National Parks. If you were to visit again in the late fall you would see the horses returned to the ranch. Wardens coming from Banff ride back through the historical trail, used since the early 1900s to bring the horses back for overwintering at the ranch.

Check out the Park Wardens Ya Ha Tinda Bound


Looking for a starting point for adventures in the headwaters of the Red Deer River? The campground at Ya Ha Tinda, Bighorn campground, acts as the staging area for hikers and equestrian trail riders as they embark on their adventures through the eastern slopes of the Red Deer River Watershed.

Ya Ha Tinda Ranch Map
Map courtesy of Parks Canada at www.pc.gc.ca

Submitted by Joey Temple - Outreach Coordinator


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