Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park
In July 1859, Captain John Palliser described the Hills as “a perfect oasis in the desert.” This description remains true today. Rising 600 meters above the surrounding plains, the Hills are a geological wonder where forests of pine, spruce, and aspen prevail.
Formed by eons of sedimentary depositation, followed by eons of erosion, the Cypress Hills are known as an erosional plateau. A unique cross-section of geological history can be found here.
During the Ice Age, glaciers surrounded the hills; but the highest part remained an island, known as an nunatak. The park is a mixture of montane, prairie, and riparian habitants and includes important archaeological sites.
An important part of the history of the area is that of the period of the winter residence of the Métis.
In 1906, Cypress Hills Forest Reserve was created under the Federal Forest Reserves Act. In 1911, the reserve was expanded to 190 square miles (90 square miles in Alberta, known as the Elkwater Block, and 100 square miles in Saskatchewan, known as West, Centre, and East Blocks).
In 1931, the federal forest reserve areas were turned over to provincial control. The Centre Block, in Saskatchewan, was designated as Cypress Hills Provincial Park.
In 1945, Elkwater Provincial Park, in Alberta, was established; and, in 1951, it became Cypress Hills Provincial Park. In 1954, the park was expanded.
In 1968, Fort Walsh National Historic Site was established in the Alberta West Block. In 1976, the Saskatchewan West Block was added to the Provincial Park in that province.
It is to be noted that there is an Alberta West Block (originally Elkwater Block) and a Saskatchewan West Block in the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.
In August 1989, Saskatchewan and Alberta governments signed an agreement designating the adjoining Cypress Hills Provincial Parks in Alberta and Saskatchewan as the first “Interprovincial” park in Canada.
Fort Walsh National Historic Site is another important partner. Together, the three agencies recognize common heritage in both natural and cultural aspects of the Cypress Hills.
See map of the inter-provincial park.
We would like to thank Jeremy McDowall, Information Officer, and Aaron Domes, Visitor Services Officer, of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (Alberta), and Melody Nagel-Hisey, Park Area Naturalist, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (Saskatchewan), for information for this page.