Finding Winter in the Badlands – Exploring Horseshoe Canyon

In the spirit of embracing our mild weather, we decided that this weekend would also be dedicated to adventures. Instead of heading west to the mountains we made the decision to head east into the prairies for Saturday’s adventure because I haven’t visited the prairies since our last canoe trip in 2010! Calgary is snow free, and the prairies remained that way until somewhere east of Beiseker where we all of a sudden started seeing fresh snow. I’d checked the current weather forecast but hadn’t really considered ground conditions/previous weather so we were a bit shocked when we arrived at Horseshoe Canyon to mid-calf deep snow.

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A very snowy canyon

Jon and I visited Horseshoe Canyon once before in May, 2009 but it is a different place in the winter. The trails are much harder to locate in the snow so after we gingerly made our way to the bottom of the canyon we ended up just wandering. There were some semi-frozen creeks to cross and lots of snow but we still spent about an hour and a half walking around and looking at the hoodoos.

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Once our wet were suitably wet (gators would have been a good idea with all the snow) we headed back to the parking lot for lunch. It wasn’t quite warm enough for a picnic but we ate outside anyways before retiring to our friends’ camper van to sip our hot chocolate and warm up.

We only covered about 1.75 miles during our explorations but arrived home from our day rather exhausted. It was nice to get a little taste of winter again (even if we weren’t prepared) and I’m generally happy with every adventure we get to fit in. 2016 is all about exploring Alberta (and nearby BC) so I’m looking forward to some more time in the badlands again when things warm up.

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We are really nailing the family photos so far this year!


Horseshoe Canyon is located south of Drumheller on Hwy 9 (about 1.25 hours from Calgary). There is a parking lot and outhouses, plus picnic tables and a lovely view across the canyon. 

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