You won't run out of tranquility in Canada's Peace River Country, home to swans and cowboys
Grande Prairie is located in the southern portion of what is known as Alberta's "Peace River Country." The city's residents identify with two unique animals—one living and one quite dead. The first is the trumpeter swan, which the city has adopted as an official symbol due to its proximity to the migration route and summer nesting grounds of this large bird. For that reason, Grande Prairie is sometimes nicknamed the "Swan City."
The dinosaur has emerged as an unofficial symbol of the city due to paleontology discoveries in the area west of the Grande Prairie. In fact, the city is one the few cities on Earth that holds a Dinosaur Ball each summer!
Where Is It?
Grande Prairie is located at the intersection of Highway 43 and Highway 40. The city of 55,000 is 283 miles (456 km.) northwest of Edmonton and is the largest city between Edmonton and Fairbanks, Alaska. Highway 43 leads toward Dawson Creek, British Columbia, which is the "Mile 0" of the Alaska Highway, so consider Grande Prairie a jumping off place to explore this beautiful region.
Grande Prairie is surrounded on three sides by a vast prairie with dense woodland on the south. The terrain immediately surrounding Grande Prairie is largely flat to gently rolling, but rises gradually to hilly terrain closer to the foothills to the south and southwest. On clear days, some peaks in the Rockies are visible to the southwest from Grande Prairie.
Summers are often fairly cool to pleasantly warm in the daytime. Being fairly close to the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, it can get quite windy in Grande Prairie, especially in the spring and fall. Grande Prairie has 314 sunshine days per year on average, and just above 2,200 hours of bright sunshine.
Cultural venues include the Grande Prairie Museum, the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, The Rabbit Hole bookstore and Second Street Theatre. Grande Prairie is also home to a professional musical theatre company, "Broadway Live Broadway," which engages equity actors and performs on the college campus.
The Reel Shorts Film Festival is a five-day international festival of short films that takes place at Second Street Theatre in early May.
The annual Street Performers Festival is held each July in downtown Grande Prairie.
Grande Prairie will celebrate its 100th anniversary on a special Homecoming Weekend Aug. 2-4, 2014.
One of the recreational focal points in Grande Prairie is Muskoseepi Park in the Bear Creek Valley. The park has excellent bike trails extending nearly the entire length of Bear Creek within the city. Muskoseepi Park also has an outdoor swimming pool and a pavilion with a cafeteria and an outdoor pond, which converts into a skating rink in the winter. Crystal Lake in the northeast part of the city also has parkland, preserved wetlands (great for birdwatching), and walking/bike paths around its entire circumference.
Golfing is possible after 11 o'clock in the evening in early summer due to the northern latitude.
The foothills south of Grande Prairie and around Grande Cache are popular for hiking in the summer.
Peace River Country offers over 50 lakes and rivers, which means a great fishing spot is always nearby. Trout, grayling, walleye and pike are the region's main bait gobblers. Major outdoor events include the Swan Festival in April.
One of the most recent and dramatic discoveries of dinosaur bonebeds was reported in 1973 along Pipestone Creek off Highway 43 southwest of Grande Prairie. The bonebed is located near the current dinosaur museum at Pipestone Creek Campground. Currently, for research purposes, the bonebed is closed to the public. Footprints discovered in the region belong to at least four different types of dinosaurs, including the Tyrannosaurs, medium-sized theropods (meat-eating dinosaurs), duck-billed hadrosaurs and armored ankylosaurs.
The community of Grande Prairie holds a Dino Ball each summer with proceeds going toward the new Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, scheduled to open in the summer of 2014 on a 10-acre site near the Pipestone Creek Campground. The world-class museum facility will promote paleontology throughout the region.
Grande Prairie is also within an hour's drive of 10 provincial parks, including Saskatoon Island Provincial Park and Kakwa Wildland Park on the Alberta-British Columbia border. The latter is about 100 miles south of the city and is known for the beautiful Kakwa Falls.
Kakwa Provincial Park is known for its rugged, iceclad mountains, extensive alpine meadows and a section of the Continental Divide. It's highlighted by Mount Sir Alexander at 10,728 feet, Mount Ida at 10,462 feet and Kakwa Lake.
Summer activities include camping, hiking, fishing, and horseback trips. During the winter visitors enjoy snowmobiling and wilderness ski tours.
The wide range of species diversity has made this a popular destination for wildlife photographers.
Get Ready to Stompede
Held every may, the Grande Prairie Stompede provides thrills to the 30,000 spectators who attend annually at the community's Evergreen Park.
The Stompede is the first show of the year in Canada for chuckwagon racing and the first big event of the outdoor season for the pro rodeo competitors.
The Stompede allows local chuckwagon drivers and professional rodeo competitors to showcase their talents in their own backyard and, ultimately, promotes both sports in the Peace Country so young people are inspired to keep the tradition going.
Stompede events include bull riding, bareback riding, team roping, steer wrestling and rodeo clown shows.
All of the proceeds from the Stompede are given back to the community. Over the years, the Stompede has provided thousands of dollars for improvements and projects in Grande Prairie.
For More Information:
Grande Prairie Regional