As part of our autumn road trip from BC to Ontario, we spent an enriching two days in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in southern Alberta. So glad we did!

The park is a part of the Badlands, where sandstone mountains have been carved by wind and water for centuries, creating weird and wonderful shapes and designs on the landscape. We were speechless and awestruck as we walked the well marked trails through this place of unequalled beauty.

The park derives its name from the many petroglyphs in the area, and contains the greatest concentration of rock art on the North American Great Plains. It is important and sacred to the Blackfoot and many other aboriginal tribes and has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Access to the petroglyphs is restricted and we grabbed the opportunity for a guided tour of the area with a Blackfoot leader. Unfortunately, in the past, the petroglyphs have been marred by individuals who carved their initials among them so the restrictions are understandable to preserve this rich heritage.

Apart from the wonder of the petroglyphs, the incredible formations that nature has given us in the sandstone is reason enough to visit. And for photographers, it is as good as it gets.

On our way to the park, the Alberta prairie put on a show for us.
On our way to the park, the Alberta prairie put on a show for us.
As the storm cleared, the colours on the prairie were irresistible
As the storm cleared, the colours on the prairie were irresistible
A group of deer forage at dusk. The buck has branches in his antlers, caused by rutting agains a tree.
A group of deer forage at dusk. The buck has branches in his antlers, caused by rutting against a tree.
Behold, the Badlands of southern Alberta!
Behold, the Badlands of southern Alberta!
Walking among the stones is easy but you could get lost if you venture off the trails.
Walking among the stones is easy but you could get lost if you venture off the trails.
The Milk River flows through the area, slowly but surely creating its art.
The Milk River flows through the area, slowly but surely creating its art.
We didn't see any aliens living in this one but it's not hard to imagine.
We didn’t see any aliens living in this one but it’s not hard to imagine.
You travel slowly here because the many shapes are arresting
You travel slowly here because the many shapes are arresting
And you can find hardy plants growing in the dry climate as well, adding some colour.
And you can find hardy plants growing in the dry climate as well, adding some colour.
Natural Arch: across the Milk River from the petroglyphs, one can see this amazing arch, like a temple.
Across the Milk River from the petroglyphs, one can see this amazing natural arch, like a temple.
The 'writing-on-stone' told graphic stories of past events in a culture that depended on the handing down of stories.
The ‘writing-on-stone’ told graphic stories of past events in a culture that depended on the handing down of stories.
Who says nature doesn't have a sense of humour!
Who says nature doesn’t have a sense of humour!
Blues at sunrise
Blues at sunrise
A touch from heaven on this special place.
A touch from heaven on this special place.

Of Interest to Photographers

As I explored the park, I couldn’t help thinking how perfect this place is for photographers, with so much in the way of textures, shapes and lines. The temptation is to go for the grand landscape with all its impressive features but there is also much to be found in the quiet corners.

Gifts are waiting when you look into the nooks and crannies
Gifts are waiting when you look into the nooks and crannies.

I was sure to carry a tripod with me here. A number of times I needed a long exposure and for some others, I made HDR photos. But the thing I enjoyed the most was studying the shapes before me and incorporating them into my compositions.

 

Related Posts