Do It Yourself Photo Tour
Here is an idea for a short, 3 – 5 day ‘photo tour’ that you can put together quickly yourself. Invite a couple of friends and you could be off by next weekend;
We recently visited the far southeast corner of Alberta and rediscovered a very photogenic area. From our base in the municipal campground of the Village of Foremost, we covered the area between highway 3 in the north, the US border in the south, and highway 36 in the west, the Saskatchewan border in the east.
Although there is other accommodation and camping available in the area, we found Foremost to be perfectly situated close to the center of this square. The campground is located at the west end of the village, next door to the reservoir, an ideal foreground for sunset photography. The reservoir is stocked with trout, and is home to, among others, mallards, cormorants and red wing blackbirds. It is also visited by the American White Pelican. If camping is not your thing, the village offers the Cedar Villa Motel and the Coulee Ridge Bed and Breakfast.
Find yourself a good back roads of Alberta map and you can create several day trips to explore the area.
PLACES TO SEE
Twenty-seven kilometers east of Foremost on highway 61 is the village of Etzikom. A visit to the Etzikom Museum and the Canadian National Historic Wind Power Centre is well worth the $5 price of admission. Where else are you going to see a sewing machine scroll saw or a musical instrument called the ukelin? Aside from those items, the museum has an impressive collection of memorabilia from the area.
The Wind Power Centre is situated in the park next door and has a fair display of the various types of windmills once prevalent on the prairies. With the windmills as a backdrop, plaques tell the story of their importance to the settling of the west. Also included in the display is an array of farm equipment from times gone by. Photo opps abound among the windmills and equipment.
Red Rock Coulee, 27 km south of Seven Persons, along highway 887 was the raison d’être for our visit to this part of the province. Noted for the round red/orange boulders, up to 2 ½ m in diameter, this area has been on my bucket list for some time. One can easily spend hours photographing these sandstone concretions as the light changes over the course of the day. Bring plenty of mosquito repellent!
Writing on Stone Provincial Park, famed for its hoodoos and of course the aboriginal rock carvings and paintings is about 60 km from Foremost via highways 879 and 501. Visit the visitors centre, walk the hoodoo trail to the battle scene pictographs, stop at the Police and Devils Coulee view points. Photo opps will present themselves! There is also a back country hiking area if you are so inclined. Check the rules and regulations at http://www.albertaparks.ca/writing-on-stone/. Continue on the 501 to the Town of Milk River and stop in at the Riverside Grocery. They have their own bakery and the cinnamon buns are the best!
Heningers Reservoir. Take the 879 south from Foremost. Make a right turn (west) onto the 501. Where the 501 jogs south, watch for a right hand turn onto Range Road 121, which doubles back a few hundred meters before you make a left turn onto Township Road 32. Watch for the sign, on the right, about 5 K along Twp 32.
This lake was the surprise jewel of our tour. Quite picturesque in and of itself, we discovered scores of birds including lesser yellowlegs, killdeer, mallards, red wing blackbirds, eastern kingbird and more. A pair of whitetail fawns was spotted in the wetland below the earthen dam and a muskrat very calmly went about feeding as we snapped away.
Cypress Hills Inter-provincial Park. We approached the park from the 'back side’ and although we had not intended to travel that far east, it was the route that made the day.
Travelling east from Foremost on the 61, we crossed straight over the 887 onto Township Rd 62. We followed this onto the Wildcat Trail along which we made several stops to photograph (from the side of the road) the scenery and several old and abandoned barns and buildings. We made a brief stop at the Michelle Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area. Expecting something similar to Heningers Reservoir, we were somewhat disappointed. We did spot pelicans, cormorants and a pair of hawks, but the overall impression was uninviting from a photography point of view.
From the reservoir we continued on to Butte Rd, then Thelma Rd and finally Range Rd 30 into the park to Reesor Lake. There are numerous photo opps within Cypress Hills that justify making that a destination, but given we were there on a Friday and the weekend crowds were arriving, we chose to have a bite of lunch, then headed back to Foremost the way we came in, again stopping as the views/scenery/light grabbed us.
Ghost Towns in the area; Orion, Wrentham and Conquerville to name three. Check out www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=13dJH9NJa3hX7u8HPpF8oZOT3-qw. And be sure to drop into Skiff for photos of the weathered and paint peeled grain elevator.
There are also numerous old, neglected barns and buildings throughout the area that can be very photogenic. We made many stops as we zig zagged the ‘Twps and Rge Rds.’ Keep in mind that much of the land here is private property and trespassing is generally frowned upon. There are many photo opps available from roadside. Be sure to pull off safely.
As you travel these secondary roads, watch for wildlife; the pronghorn, whitetail deer and numerous and various birds of prey. Keep your long lens handy! Also, watch the play of light and shadow across the fields. We found many opportunities for ‘big sky Alberta’ shots, often with the Sweetgrass hills of Montana as a backdrop.
Overall, we had an enjoyable and photographically productive time in this corner of our province. I can highly recommend this area for a short get-away. Check out more of our photos in the gallery below.