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