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Red Rock Coulee – An Otherworldly Alberta Landscape

Red Rock Coulee – An Otherworldly Alberta Landscape

Red Rock Coulee Natural Area has an otherworldly feel to it. Littered with sandstone concretions, the red rocks measuring as much as 2.5 metres in diameter are formed naturally via the sediments they rest upon.

According to the sign at the parking lot:

The process by which concretions are formed leaves them harder and more resistant to erosional forces than the surrounding material. When the parent material erodes the spheres are left exposed and then they in turn begin to erode.

Red Rock Coulee, Alberta

Red Rock Coulee

Red Rock Coulee feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere.

Accessed via Highway 887, 60 kilometres south of Medicine Hat, near Seven Persons in southeast Alberta, it’s not really on the way to anywhere. We decided to make a detour and hit it on the way back from Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. Although we didn’t spend much time in the area, there would be some lovely hiking. Just carry lots of water. Try to time your visit for sunrise or sunset, when the rocks positively glow.

Red Rock Coulee, Alberta

Boulders strewn across a prairie landscape

Boulders at Red Rock Coulee

Love the colour of the rocks – they’d almost glow at sunset

Hardy wildflowers

Hardy wildflowers

Beautiful lichen patterns on the rock

Beautiful lichen patterns on the rock

Hard to believe anything can grow in this dry soil

Hard to believe anything can grow in this dry soil

The plants that grow in the area are extremely hardy. Look for prickly pear cactus, prairie crocus, juniper, sagebrush, broomweed and gumbo primrose.

Flying saucer like rocks - Red Rock Coulee, Alberta

Flying saucer like rocks

Close-up of a concretion - Red Rock Coulee, Alberta

Close-up of a concretion

Although we didn’t see any wildlife, it’s quite possible you’ll see mule deer, pronghorn antelope, white-tailed jack rabbits, bull snakes, rattlesnakes (give them space), short-horned lizards, and if you were very lucky – scorpions – as they are considered rare in Alberta. It’s certainly worth making the detour to Red Rock Coulee if you’re nearby.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Red Rock Coulee - An Otherworldly Alberta Landscape

 

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. If you are lucky you will see a scorpion. . . Nah somehow I’m guessing you were ok with not seeing one. Interesting looking spot though.

  2. I have seen these first hand and there specimens that are much closer to perfect spheres. very odd to see such a thing just sitting on the surface like it was just put there.

  3. I believe there is more at play then just wind erosion otherwise we would see these in other locations.I think they where formed from volcanic lava landing in deep water sort of the same way bird shot is made from lead. and for some reason they did not completely shatter

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