Planning a trip to Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site? Excellent! You’re all set to explore nature, learn about Indigenous culture, and enjoy a new experience. But with so many adventures on site, how can you be sure that you don’t miss out? Not to worry, we sat down with our helpful friends at Rocky Mountain House to ask some of your most pressing questions, so you can be sure to get the most out of your experience.
1. What are some things that visitors can expect to see/do when they visit Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site?
At Rocky Mountain House, we put a high focus on the ambiance of our location. When visitors arrive, they are welcomed to the location with two company flags of the North-West Company and Hudson’s Bay Company, as well as a play fort that has been reconstructed as a place for children. This ambiance helps guide our guests to learn the history of fur trade, which really helps provide a sense of the area and what we’re all about.
When it comes to what visitors can do while they visit, there’s certainly no shortage of adventure here! Our Visitor Centre hosts an exhibit with artifacts pulled from archaeological digs that showcase not only the fur trade fort, but also the cultures that Rocky Mountain House represents between the voyagers, the Metis and the Indigenous peoples.
A really interesting attraction we offer is virtual reality. Lovers of the popular game Minecraft will be thrilled with this experience, as we have re-created and strategically placed historic forts on site using a virtual experience. Guests can also visit archaeology remains of four different sites, one of which showcases the only standing structures from the time; two standing chimneys. We also offer a variety of interpretation experiences such as a blacksmith shop, candle making, and an in-depth look at and appreciation for the women of the fur trade. There is also a variety of unique Aboriginal programs such as Indigenous drumming and singing, camping (both modern and heritage camping) and nature opportunities.
2. What are some ways people can connect with nature while visiting?
Our location in itself helps people connect with and absorb nature. We are a very large, quiet site. Even during busy periods, there are still plenty of places for people to listen to the sounds of nature, such as the birds chirping, water splashing and the wind whistling. There is also a large diversity of wildlife in the area, such as coyotes, bison, foxes, mice, squirrels, gophers and deer. This is an excellent spot for plant enthusiasts, as we do lots of plant identification. There is also a medicinal walk offered that teaches what types of plants the Indigenous people once used for medical and healing purposes.
3. What are your heritage camping experiences?
We offer three different types of heritage camping experiences; Metis trapper’s tents, tipis and trapline cabins. Each one is designed as a unique opportunity for guests to enjoy an authentic Aboriginal experience. Camping fees include a Fur Trade Camp Kit, featuring bison hide, period cooking kit and utensils, blow tube and flint/steel fire-starting kit, bannock mix, trapper’s tea, spice, oil and soap.
- Metis trapper’s tents: Sleeps five people comfortably. Wooden platform flooring, rustic table and chairs are included. There is a communal fire pit. This experience is $50.80 per night.
- Tipis: Sleeps up to eight people, with sleeping mats provided. Wooden platform flooring, rustic table and chairs are provided. There are outside fire pits and picnic tables. This experience is $58.80 per night.
- Trapline cabins: Sleeps up to six people. There are two double bunk beds as well as a double bed, with mattresses provided. This camping experience includes modern amenities such as an induction stove, microwave and fridge. This experience is $120 per night.
4. What is the history and importance of the area in relation to the Aboriginal community?
Rocky Mountain House serves of national historic significance due to the fur trade, the great explorer David Thompson and the Blackfoot people. One thing we really emphasize to our guests here is that Rocky represents a confluence of cultures. When the voyagers needed to trade, people came together from far and wide for survival and success, and what developed was both rivalries and friendships between the Aboriginal people and the voyagers. This area is an example of a gathering spot for the Aboriginal people to become one with each other as well as the voyagers, and learn from one another. The Metis people are an example of two cultures coming together and creating a new culture. We emphasize the importance of these cultures coming together, and both the friendships and the tensions that developed. The Metis and Aboriginal people were the backbone to many of the fur trading companies, and had it not been for their help and teachings the fur trade would have played out very differently.
5. What are a few other things guests can do in the area?
Rocky Mountain House is an excellent place for nature lovers. It serves as a base for those looking to explore the outdoors. We encourage guests to stay and relax here, and allow this to become your gateway to nature. Some areas of interest include:
- Hiking trails: There are plenty of great hiking trails in the area. Mount Baldy is a recommended trail, as it is about a one-two hour hike to the top with a beautiful view of the area.
- Lakes: There are plenty of beautiful fresh water lakes to enjoy. Crimson Lake has a magnificent walking trail that is only ten minutes away. Twin Lakes has a path that leads right up to Rocky, and Cow Lake has a beached area for visitors to enjoy.
- The Rocky Museum: Rocky is also a fantastic place to learn about the area’s history. This museum allows you to take a look at the life of the pioneers, and learn about the time period of the area.
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