ROUTE: Calgary – Medicine Hat – Maple Creek – Gull Lake – Cadillac – Val Marie
Time: 6 hours/607 kilometres
By any measure, six hours is a good day’s drive but heading east out of Calgary to the Crossing offers more than a few great options to stop, explore and shop.
Of course Calgary does what any big city does best, draw you in with a multitude of great restaurants, shops and services but if you’re eager to hit the road and head for Saskatchewan’s great southwest there is no shortage of opportunities to gas-up and get supplied for your stay at the Crossing.
If you’re adventurous and have a few extra days to explore, check out Drumheller’s world-class Royal Tyrell Museum and the amazing hoodoos and surreal landforms of Dinosaur Provincial Park. Another world awaits just north of the Trans-Canada highway and is sure to get you in the mood for the landscape of Grasslands National Park.
Three hours east of Calgary you pass through Medicine Hat, a city of 68,000 nestled in the South Saskatchewan River valley.
It’s a great place to stop, stretch your legs, stock up on supplies and grab a bite to eat. On the food front we recommend Skinny’s Smokehouse (near Costco just off the Trans-Canada), Local Public Eatery or The Mezz, both downtown.
If you’ve got the time, check out the historic Medalta Pottery, an amazing trip back to the day when most of Canada’s pottery, crocks and flatware were produced in ‘the Gas City’. It’s now a working museum.
From the Hat it’s about three hours to the Crossing. You’ll pass just north of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, a stunning island of mountain landscapes, aspen, lodgepole pine, lakes and site of Fort Walsh Historic Site. Turn south at Maple Creek, one of Canada’s prettiest towns and grab a coffee at The Daily Grind or the BC Café. The Rockin’ Horse Cookhouse or the Roundup are great places to grab a bite to eat.
If you want to save time and a few miles, about 40-minutes east of Maple Creek is the town of Gull Lake. Turn south and get on to Highway 37. When you hit Highway 13 (about 40 kilometres), turn left and take the shortcut east to Cadillac.
If you’re still hungry, The Cadillac Tavern Bar & Grill in the Village of Cadillac is a great spot to eat. They often have live music in the evenings and are a popular local watering hole.
From Cadillac it’s a 30 minute drive south on Highway 4 to the Crossing. While you may not realize it you’ll be crossing over ‘the divide’, an extension of the Cypress Hills and a high point of Saskatchewan’s topography. The divide is a critical feature of the continental watershed where water flows north to the South Saskatchewan River and eventually Hudson’s Bay, or south, to the Frenchman River, which empties into Montana and the Missouri River. Water from this point eventually flows to the Gulf of Mexico.
Once over the divide you’re on the glide path to the village of Val Marie and six kilometres south, the Crossing. Watch for our sign at the sharp bend of Highway 4. Turn left at Rosefield Grid Road and make an immediate left at our sign.
Welcome, you’re one kilometre away from comfort on the edge of the grassland sea.