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Rounding out Summer: Indigenous Tourism in Alberta: Horsethief Canyon

Horsethief Canyon, which features various educational, sightseeing, and experiential opportunities for visitors, is an exciting and breathtaking destination for Indigenous tourism in Alberta
21 HSG - Horsethief Canyon
Horsethief Canyon offers a particularly exceptional experience during the summer months, as visitors can take their time to picnic, view wildlife, and enjoy the solitude of the area.

Horsethief Canyon is known for its historical significance to Western outlaws, cultural significance to local Indigenous peoples, and large dinosaur fossil remains. The canyon is located close to Drumheller, Alberta, and offers kilometres of scenic hiking through its desert-like depths, as well as guided tours and helicopter rides which help visitors to enjoy the expanse of its history and beauty. Set in the Canadian Badlands, Horsethief Canyon provides an adventure away from heavy crowds and gives visitors plenty to explore.

Visitors to Horsethief Canyon are often awestruck by the dinosaur fossils, as the Canadian Badlands are home to some of the largest and oldest dinosaur fossils in the world. Though these fossils were first excavated and identified in the late 1800s, Indigenous locals such as the Cree and Blackfoot have been aware of the fossils for centuries. Many First Nations groups believed that the dinosaur fossils in Horsethief Canyon were left from gigantic ancestors of the Bison, and treated them as a sacred burial ground for the species. Today, some First Nation tribes continue to hold Powwows at Horsethief Canyon, and local Indigenous tour guides share their cultural history with tourists. Visitors can benefit from a tour guide to the vast area, as they won’t want to miss out on some of the most picturesque views that can be found at the height of the canyon.

Horsethief Canyon offers a particularly exceptional experience during the summer months, as visitors can take their time to picnic, view wildlife, and enjoy the solitude of the area. Visitors are encouraged to respect the history of the area as well as its conservation, and should be sure to leave no waste behind. Those visiting Horsethief Canyon in the summer should ensure they pack themselves a sufficient supply of water, snacks, and sun protection, as temperatures are often above 40 degrees Celsius, and most visitors want to enjoy the entire day taking in the sights and history.

This summer, Horsethief Canyon is particularly appealing as a tourism option due to its low contact with other people. While gift shops and certain tours may be limited depending on the COVID-19 situation, the hiking trails and dinosaur viewing won’t have changed significantly during the pandemic, which means visitors can still enjoy all of the noteworthy experiences the destination offers. Visitors should continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation if they plan to use a tour guide or helicopter ride service, and may be required to wear facial masks.

Overall, Horsethief Canyon is the ideal Indigenous tourism destination in Alberta this summer for visitors looking for stunning landscapes, education on Indigenous cultural history, ancient dinosaur remains, and some peaceful hiking away from the crowded city. Visitors can appreciate the vast natural wonders and cultural importance of the region, without adapting too much of their experience around the pandemic. For more information, be sure to visit the website for Travel Alberta.

Sierra Pearce is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.