We’re leaving the impressive Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in the company of a warm, strong wind. We’re off to Waterton Lakes National Park in southwestern Alberta; where the prairie and the Rocky Mountains meet. The little-used Highway 501 near the U.S. border leads us to this place. Soon the Rocky Mountains become visible. It is still an estimated 100 km as the crow flies, perhaps a little more.
The sleepy town of Milk River, a typical small prairie town with huge grain silos, looks a bit inhospitable; the streets are empty because of the hard wind. Getting out of the RV we have to be careful with the doors. We almost feel transported back to Tenerife, where occasionally the hot Sahara winds – called Calima and Scirocco – are blowing. Here we have the warm Chinook wind and it is, especially in winter, a welcome phenomenon for all. In a short time temperatures can rise dramatically. It is September 22 and the thermometer shows 28 degrees.
The visibility is very good. While driving between grain fields and pastures throughout the west, we keep looking at the approaching blue-gray mountains of the Rockies. There is snow on some peaks. There is so little traffic on this street, that oncoming traffic greets us kindly. Here and there cattle graze on dry pastures or rest near a water hole. Hard to imagine that 150 to 200 years ago millions of bison and antelope grazed on these hills.
The further we go, the wider the mountain range which rises abruptly from the gently rolling prairie. Pointed in the middle between all of the more or less tapering peaks attracts one mountain in particular the attention. Its top is not pointed but wide. It is Chief Mountain. A mountain that is important for the Indians because of traditional and religious reasons. It’s situated across the border in Montana, USA.
Ghost Town on the Prairie
Half way we come across a town with the Spanish-sounding name of Del Bonita. The town with only a handful of houses at the intersection of highways hosts “The Little Ghost Town on the Prairie”. Here, in the middle of nowhere, someone has realized a dream and operates a museum, an antique and gift shop with ice cream in three historic buildings. The next towns are 50 to 60 kilometers away from here. If maybe next year a Bed & Breakfast accommodation is added, guests can certainly enjoy a very special holiday.
After having driven about 200 kilometers, we reach the Waterton Lakes National Park and the Rocky Mountains. This National Park is one of the smallest in Canada and forms with the adjacent Glacier National Park in the U.S. the International Peace Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.