Amazing Wildlife, Spectacular Viewscapes and an NHL Hockey Legend

There are not many things in the world that small boys like as much as camping, discovering new places and (for northern kids at least) hockey so I was excited to learn that Grasslands National Park and the Village of Val Marie will be hosting the Grasslander Classic from July 28 – 30, 2017 to help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Located in the Cypress Hills of southern Saskatchewan, Grasslands is one of the most pristine of Canada’s national parks. My mom was born in Val Marie so a visit to the village and camping at Grasslands NP has been on my bucket list for a few years now and this event looks like the perfect time to make the trip!

An information panel marks a stop along the scenic driving tour.
Photo of an Ecotour road stop from the Parks Canada website
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Carrie Clausen from Parks Canada and asked her what she would say to folks who ask why they should visit Val Marie and the Grasslands area. Her response:

Amazing wildlife—spectacular viewscapes—glorious sunsets—brilliant night skies—rare species—western hospitality.

She went on to say,  “Grasslands National Park celebrates the prairie: bison raising dust in a wallow, swift fox pups playing in a coulee, a creek finding its way along an ancient glacial valley, you discovering a solitary ring of stones on a windy ridge… and much more.

“The park welcomes you to an open wilderness – a diverse, resilient and evolving prairie ecosystem. You will marvel at unexpected encounters with animals and plants uniquely suited to this uncompromising land and often-harsh climate. Astonishing geological formations and rich fossils take you to ancient times. Reminders of human use and influence on the land, from  survival to adaptation and stewardship, are yours to discover. Together with neighbours and nearby communities, the park contributes to the protection, restoration, knowledge and presentation of this natural and cultural landscape, and looks toward restoring ecological processes and species representative of the mixed-grass prairie.

I don’t know about you but this place sounds amazing. I can just imagine the look on EJ’s face as we watched bison “playing in the dirt!” 

You can catch a glimpse of the bison along with views of the park’s amazing vista’s on Much’s Far and Wide – Episode 15 as Idle Theory Now and Where’s My Office Now as they explore Grasslands NP.

Carrie plans and coordinates all programs and events at the park and is excited about their upcoming Canada 150 event. She explains this weekend is specifically geared towards families so if you are a family that is worried about the remote location of Grasslands this would be the event to attend! 

“We have many activities planned for families for the whole weekend starting on Friday with the walking tour, and supper at the recreation centre featuring NHL hockey legend Bryan Trottier and his many trophies he has earned during his career. There will be plenty of kids activities and games this evening as well.” 

The Village of Val Marie, local businesses, outfitters and Grasslands NP work closely together to encourage tourism to the area so part of the Grasslander Classic will have activities in both areas. Saturday the Village of Val Marie is hosting a pancake breakfast, parade and outdoor market square. Then visitors can head off to the Frenchman Valley Campground (in the park) to participate in ball hockey, kayaking, wagon rides, bison facility tours, kids pavilion, and outdoor concerts. There will be a concession stand on site at the park so no need to worry about meals! Hockey fans can cap off the weekend Sunday by getting their picture and autograph from Bryan Trottier (hometown boy and six-time Stanley Cup winner) at the farewell reception. 

I asked Carrie about camping and accommodation for the Grasslander Classic and found out that the  Frenchman Valley Campground in the park is already fully booked for this weekend, but the park has plenty of overflow sites so they are providing a camping space for everyone that shows up for the event! Overflow camping is by self-registration when visitors arrive and reservations for these sites are not needed ahead of time. Places in town are also filling up quickly so if anyone is thinking of booking a place in Val Marie they will want to book as soon as possible.

To make your camping reservation for the summer visit or call  1-877-737-3783 . 

You can purchase advance tickets for the Grasslander Classic event online at For questions regarding the event please call the Visitor Centre at 1-877-345-2257.  

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