A drive up the Red Deer River is a must do trip. Follow the river west on the Coal Camp road and you will pass by some of Alberta’s nicest whitewater paddling. Adventure Companies provide great half day and multi-day adventures. At the Forestry Trunk Road junction, the Mountain-Aire Lodge and Campground can provide gas, a meal or overnight stay.
Continuing west up the river, the road breaks into a valley ringed by peaks. Parks Canada raises its horses here on the historic Ya Ha Tinda Ranch, “the little prairie in the mountains” along with thousands of wintering elk on the east slopes of Banff National Park. The Outpost at Warden Rock base their wilderness experiences here. Take a real stagecoach ride into the Ya Ha Tinda to the Outpost.
The Ya Ha Tinda covers 3,945 hectares, running 27 km along the north bank of the Red Deer River. Approximately one third of the ranch area is natural grassland and two thirds is mixed forest. This productive montane area has an abundance of wildlife including grizzly bear, wolf, cougar, moose, deer, and bighorn sheep. Today the area is a major winter range for elk, with about 1,000 elk wintering in the area.
The Ya Ha Tinda is private property owned and managed by Parks Canada. It is not a National Park. This ranch is the only federally operated working horse ranch in Canada. Horses are wintered and trained here to be used as working horses for patrolling and protecting Canada’s Western National Parks. As an active working ranch, staff regularly use tractors, trucks, quads and other equipment on the property.