Spend even a few days exploring the County of Grande Prairie and you’ll begin to understand why we love this vast and dynamic landscape where we work and play. Located 460 km northwest of Edmonton, at the southern end of the Peace Country, the County of Grande Prairie is a study of contrasts: rich prairie, abundant rivers, creeks and small lakes, a mixed boreal forest, and the province’s northernmost badlands.
You’ll see wildlife here, perhaps the majestic – and the still “threatened” – Trumpeter Swan that migrates to our lakes and sloughs in late April to nest and to raise its young, or you’ll see Canada geese snacking in fields or hear them honking as they fly overhead. If you keep a watchful eye, you’ll also spot moose, elk, mule deer, white tail deer, foxes, coyote, and beaver.
With a wide open sky that overlooks gently rolling prairie, Alberta’s first county has a little bit of everything within its borders. It spans the Saddle Hills in the north to the Wapiti River in the South, and stretches east from the Smoky River to the B.C. border. The county surrounds a mid-sized city and encompasses towns, a village, several hamlets, county residential communities and a First Nations reserve.
Travelling west on sunny days, particularly in winter, you’ll catch tantalizing glimpses of our majestic neighbours, the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. From atop the 3100 foot Saskatoon Mountain in the west county, you can view the panorama of land that inspires artists and that enamoured the homesteaders who travelled the harrowing Edson Trail just a century ago to settle here. But this rise of land is no stranger to human habitation; archeologists have found evidence of humans here dating back 9000 – 10,000 B.C. when the now fertile farmland below would have been covered by a vast glacier.
Mountain in the west county, you can view the panorama of land that inspires artists and that enamoured the homesteaders who travelled the harrowing Edson Trail just a century ago to settle here. But this rise of land is no stranger to human habitation; archeologists have found evidence of humans here dating back 9000 – 10,000 B.C. when the now fertile farmland below would have been covered by a vast glacier.
The County of Grande Prairie is becoming known internationally for its prehistoric resources. Paleontologists are busy excavating dinosaur fossils at Kleskun Hill, Pipestone Creek and the Red Willow River.
They’ve recently found skeletons of duck-billed hadrosaur dinosaurs along the Red Willow River, several of which even have preserved skin impressions showing their knobby, scaly hide. This dinosaur is very unique and grew up to three tons and ten feet tall.
The Pipestone Creek Bone-bed is one of the densest accumulations of dinosaur bones in the world and holds the remains of hundreds of horned dinosaurs washed onto a floodplain including the the first dinosaur named from the region, Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai, was recently featured on the Royal Canadian Mint’s first glow-in-the-dark coin. This dinosaur was found in a massive bonebed at Pipestone Creek containing thousands of bones from animals the size of a dog up to the size of a rhinoceros. During the summer, you can take an interpretive walk at Pipestone Creek to visit an active dinosaur dig and imagine what the area was like 73 million years ago when it teemed with dinosaurs, crocodiles, and turtles living in lush, swampy forests like those of the southern US instead of the more familiar aspen and spruce that fill the creek valley today.
The Philip J Currie Dinosaur Museum is Canada’s pre-eminent uni-disciplinary museum in the making, they are dedicated to the study, research, collection and display of paleo-fauna and allied narrative drawn from the rich fossil heritage in northern Alberta. The 41,000 sq.ft. museum is located on a 10 acre-site with unprecedented sight-lines. It includes a theater, labs, classrooms, restaurant, a dino-playground and a Gift shop, in addition to nearly 11,000 sq.ft. of cutting-edge exhibit galleries.
With its exposed layers of clay, sandstone and coal, the Kleskun Hill Natural Area to the east has the distinction of containing Alberta’s northernmost badlands, made up of rocks from the same age as those found in the badlands of Drumheller. Fossils of dinosaurs, lizards, fish and mammals were found in these badlands over 60 years ago, and more are found here every year.
Kleskun has the most extensive and diverse native upland prairie vegetation in the Peace Region. You’ll even find prickly pear cactus here, a native plant more common to the grasslands of southern Alberta.
But there’s still more to us than beautiful scenery and ancient fossils. For outdoor enthusiasts, we are an all-season recreational paradise. From picturesque rivers for canoeing and jet-boating, lakes for para-sailing, and creeks for fishing, to wildlife watching, geo-caching, hiking, cycling, snowmobiling, and riding ATV’s, the County of Grande Prairie offers recreation galore.
If you want something a little less on the wild side, we have farmers’ markets, festivals, cultural events, golf courses, museums, rodeos, historic sites, and pleasant country drives. We have plenty of campgrounds, restaurants, hotels, motels and coffee shops to help you enjoy our hospitality.
The County Crosslinks Sportsplex is a 176,043 sq. ft. facility boasts two NHL sized hockey rinks, a 50,000 sq. ft. indoor field house, a 240 metre indoor running track, a 4,000 sq. ft. gym as well as a retail store, concession booth, outdoor patio and a fully licensed lounge. This 42 acre site is also home to eight outdoor playing fields, made up of a premier size soccer/football field, two full sized football fields, three youth soccer mini pitches, and two full-sized rugby fields.
But if you come in the summer, what you’ll never forget are the indulgently long days when the sun rises just after 5 am and doesn’t set until nearly 11 pm. Winters here can be crisp when the Chinook winds from the Rockies aren’t keeping things warm, but you’ll never tire of the sunshine; we have an average 314 sunny days waiting for you every year.
Visit us and you’ll quickly understand why were called “la grande prairie”. But beware, legend says that once you taste the waters of the Peace River Country, you will always long to return
Crosslink County Sportsplex- www.crosslinkcountysportsplex.com
The impressive 176,043 square foot structure is the largest construction project ever undertaken by the County of Grande Prairie. With the popularity of sports like soccer and hockey on the rise across Canada, and a growing population in the region that includes plenty of young families, the facility is a good fit for present and future needs. Whether you are looking to drop in for a skate, join a fitness class, keep your child busy, or enroll in one of the many sports leagues offered, the Crosslink County Sportsplex has activities suited for everyone.
Amenities and Services
- Trican Fieldhouse – 50,000 sq. ft. artificial turf ideal for soccer, lacrosse, football and indoor field sports.
- Pat’s Auto Rink – Indoor, NHL sized ice arena. Heated seating area.
- Chris McMillan Rink – Indoor, NHL sized ice arena. Heated seating area.
- Happy Trails Track – 240 metre, indoor walking and running track which borders the Trican Fieldhouse.
- Weyerhaeuser Lobby – large sitting area on the main level of the Sportsplex.
- Motion Fitness – a state-of-the-art fitness facility – is for Sportsplex users, and new and existing Motion Fitness users to enjoy. Their hours of operation are from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. weekdays, and from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekends. For any inquiries, please contact 780-830-3880.
- Players Bench Lounge – the sit-down, fully licensed lounge next to the Front Desk. They offer a full food and beverage menu and service. Hours of operation are 4 p.m. to close on weekdays and 11 a.m. to close on weekends. Minors are not permitted after 9 p.m.
- Tito’s Bistro & Cafe – the food and beverage kiosk – is located next to the Trican Fieldhouse. They are open over lunch with other hours of operation ranging. Their menu consists of western, and Mediterranean cuisine. There is a sitting area to eat, enjoy and relax.
- Ernie’s Sports Experts – a retail store – also operates on the main floor of the Sportsplex. Ernie’s offers a range of clothing, shoes and sports equipment of renowned and exclusive brands at competitive prices. Their hours of operation range. For more information, please call 780-402-2458.
- Outdoor Fields – the eight fully irrigated athletic outdoor fields, which include 1 Premier baseball diamond, 2 full size cocker pitches, 1 Premier soccer/ football field, 3 mini soccer pitches, outdoor playground with fitness Component.
Bear Lake Campground (Clairmont)
Tel: 780-567-4105, email: email@example.com
Directions: Just 23km northwest of Grande Prairie. Drive 3km north of Clairmont, and turn west on Mercer Hill Road (Township Road 730).
17 Unserviced Sites, 4 Tenting areas along the shoreline, Day Use Area, Small Beach and Swimming Area, Boat Launch, Windsurfing / Canoeing Conditions, Picnic Sites, Shelter, Playground, Free Firewood, Horseshoe Pits, Ball Diamond , Outdoor Restrooms, Non-potable Water, Pets Welcome, Caretaker on site. $21 per night, Shelter rental is $50 per day.
Directions: Located near the BC border on Highway 43.
15 Unserviced Camping and Day Use Sites. Season: May 15 to October 15, Day-use Sites, Shelter, Outdoor Bathrooms, Pets Welcome. $11 per night.
Hommy Campground (Beaverlodge)
Tel: 780-354-8039, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directions: 8km northwest of Beaverlodge on Hwy 43, 1km off Hwy 43, on the banks of the Beaverlodge River.
23 Powered Sites, Ball Diamond, Day-use Area, Fire Pits, Free Firewood, Horseshoe Pits, Outdoor Restrooms, Sani-dump, Non-potable Water, Shelter, Playground, Pets Welcome, Caretaker on site. $22 per night, Shelter rental is $70 per day.
Kleskun Hill Campground (Grande Prairie)
Directions: 20km northeast of Grande Prairie on Hwy 43, turn north on Range Road 41 for 4km, then west. Follow signs. Located adjacent to a Provincial Natural Area.
9 Unserviced Sites, Outdoor Restrooms, Heated Restrooms with Showers, Playground, Walking Trails, Playground, Free Firewood, Day-use Sites, , Museum Village on site, Non-potable Water, Pets Welcome, Caretaker on site. $21 per night, Day use is $50 per day.
Old Bezanson Townsite (Bezanson)
Tel: 780-532-9727. Day use hours 8am – 8pm. Group overnight camping only by reservation, $50 per night.
Directions: 12km southeast of Bezanson on the banks of the Smoky River. Turn south at the sign 2.5km east of Bezanson on Highway 43. Follow the signs.
18 Unserviced Sites, Day-use Area, Shelter, Outdoor Restrooms, Playground, Ball Field, Walking Trails, Pets Welcome.
Pipestone Creek Campground (Wembley)
Directions: 16km south of Wembley on the Wapiti River. Located adjacent to Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Interepretive Trail.
99 Sites, 16 Powered Sites, Powered Group Camping Site with Shelter, Sani-dump, Ball Diamond, Dinosaur Museum, Frisbee Golf Course, Heated Restrooms with Showers, Day-use Area, Fire pits, Free Firewood, Potable Water, Horseshoe Pits, Playground, Pets Welcome, Caretaker on site. $23 per night, Group camping is $110 per night.
Red Willow Day Use Park (Elmworth)
Directions: Located on Secondary Hwy 722, 20km southwest of Beaverlodge on the Beaverlodge River.
DAY USE ONLY, 5 Picnic Sites with Fire Pits, Playground, Shelter, Outdoor Restrooms, Pets Welcome
Valhalla Park (Valhalla Centre)
Directions: Located on Hwy 59 in the community of Valhalla Centre next to Melsness Mercantile Historic Site & Café and Souvenirs
5 Picnic Tables with Fire pits, No Charge, Outdoor Restroom, Non-potable Water, Pets Welcome