Join Legendary Tours on a scenic journey to the native past! We now travel to the World Famous Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump, one of the oldest and most interesting buffalo jumps in North America
Located 18 km north & west of Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada at a place where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meet the great plains, one of the world's oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jumps is known to exist -- Head-Smashed-In. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Head-Smashed-In has been used continuously by aboriginal peoples of the plains for more than 5,500 years.
For thousands of years, the bison provided the Aboriginal peoples of North America's Great Plains with many of lifes requirements--meat for food, hides for clothing and shelter, sinew, bone and horn for tools, and dung for fires. The principal means of killing large numbers of bison was the buffalo jump, where herds were stampeded over cliffs and butchered at the bottom. Buffalo jumps were common on the northern Plains. But the biggest, oldest and best-preserved buffalo jump in North America is the Head-Smashed-In (or estipah-skikikini-kots in Blackfoot) Buffalo Jump in the Porcupine Hills of south-western Alberta.
Countless thousands of bison were herded over the edge of the 10- to 18-metre-high cliffs, beginning perhaps 5,700 years ago and continuing until the middle of the 19th century. At the base of the cliff today are skeletal remains, in some places 11 metres deep. Close by is the site of the butchering camp, a kilometre-wide expanse pocked with the remnants of meat caches and cooking pits, and itself underlain with up to a metre of butchered bison bones. The area on top of the cliff was (and still is) a wide reach of prime grazing range. A system of more than 500 stone cairns, at which people built fires or waved blankets, begins 10 kilometres west of the cliff. The cairns helped direct the bison into drive lanes approaching the precipice.
Lunch at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
Our 60-seat café is located on the second level of the interpretive center and offers a variety of western and native cuisine. Our café offers an extensive regular menu with over 50 items to choose from. During the peak season, April to September, our café offers a daily feature menu specializing in native fare in addition to our regular menu. During the Drumming and Dancing performances, held every Wednesday in July and August, there is an outdoor BBQ featuring Buffalo Burgers and Buffalo Smokies.
Dance performances at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
(Wednesdays in July & August)
After lunch we travel through the rolling Porcupine Hills and see Lundbreck Falls where we stop for a short picture break
We now travel back to Calgary along the scenic Cowboy Trail.
Alberta's Cowboy Trail
It's not just a place -- it's a feeling. The Cowboy Trail extends along the eastern slopes of the Rockies, bumping up against mountains and rolling out to forests, grasslands and (south of Calgary) the Porcupine Hills. From fur trading routes to ranches, and from historic oilfields to lines of wind turbines spinning gracefully in the wind, this landscape traces Alberta's economic history better than any other.