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HomeRoad TripA COMPLETE Information to Visiting Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce (for 2022)

A COMPLETE Information to Visiting Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce (for 2022)


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Compiled by the Street Journey Alberta workforce

Final up to date on April 26, 2022

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Web site in 1981, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce pays homage to the Indigenous peoples of the North American Plains. Filled with significance, the positioning can be commemorated by the Authorities of Canada as a Nationwide and Provincial Historic Web site.

Sunset at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Sundown at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce – picture offered by Journey Alberta credit score

Sitting atop a prairie hill, the interpretive centre at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce overlooks the spot the place the first meals supply and lifestyle was herded towards the sting and fell to their loss of life. The demise of the bison offered sustenance and contributed to all aspects of the Plains individuals’s means of being. Bison had been how they clothed themselves, sustained themselves all through brutal winters and offered shelter from the cruel prairie components.

Showcasing excessive ability and data of bison herd instincts, the Plains individuals used the situation at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce for over 6,000 years as depicted by intensive archaeological proof. In truth, the proof of human actions and looking practices discovered at this web site is among the most developed in North America.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce is in contrast to every other attraction in Alberta, offering guests with a glimpse into the previous and into the tradition and traditions of the native individuals of the Plains.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce is situated on the normal land of the Blackfoot Folks. We honour and respect the lifestyle of the individuals who have walked this land for hundreds of years.

Methods to get to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce

From Calgary 

The drive from Calgary to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce is 183 km which takes roughly one hour and 50 minutes. If leaving from the town, take AB-2 / Deerfoot south, following the indicators for Fort Macleod and Lethbridge. Observe AB-2 south for an hour and a half till reaching AB-785 W, flip proper on the marker for Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce. Observe AB-785 W till you see the big entrance signal for Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce which might be on the precise hand facet.

Teepee at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Teepee at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce – picture offered by Journey Alberta credit score roth and ramberg

From Lethbridge 

At solely 70 km away, Lethbridge is the closest large metropolis to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce. To get to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce from Lethbridge, head west out of the town on AB-3. Observe the freeway by means of the city of Fort Macleod. Proper after leaving the city, merge onto AB-3 W and use any lane to show proper onto Crowsnest Hwy/AB-2 N/AB-3 W (with indicators for Fort Macleod/Pincher Creek/Calgary).

Use the precise lane to take the AB-2 N ramp to Calgary and proceed onto AB-2 N till reaching indicators for Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce and AB-785 W. Flip left off the freeway onto AB-785 W and observe the highway for 16 km till reaching the big Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce signal on the right-hand facet.

Historical past and Archaeological Significance 

Previous to colonization, the Blackfoot bands had been nomadic. The construction of their actions was marked by three principal components: the situation of the bison herds, the climate, and the season. Taking in these components, they moved the situation of their camp accordingly.

Buffalo Skulls at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Buffalo Skulls at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce

Though buffalo jumps could be present in a number of places within the Northern Plains, the bounce at Head-Smashed-In is the best-preserved and was probably the most extensively used for the longest interval. Using their data of bison behaviour and herd patterns, the Plains individuals created an ingenious technique to provide a considerable amount of meals to the camps over the winter.

Buffalo runners dressed as wolves would sneak up on the huge herds of bison and play on their protecting instincts of the infants, inflicting a stampede that was orchestrated by slender drive lanes resulting in an edge. When the bison obtained to the top of the drive lanes and realized that there was a lethal drop, the frenzy was too intense to cease the ahead momentum; inflicting the herd to fall to their loss of life. The kill web site, or the place the bison landed after their fall off the sandstone cliffs, is ripe with archaeological assets suggesting that folks camped close by. Moreover, the stone instruments and proof of teepee rings helped to find out that each one components of the fallen bison had been utilized indirectly.

Archaeological proof on the base of the bounce exhibits that the Indigenous individuals utilized the bison stays for clothes, instruments, meals, and shelter. Bison had been greater than only a meals supply for the Plains individuals; this majestic animal was an integral a part of their tradition.

Indigenous Artifacts at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site
Indigenous artifacts at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce World Heritage Web site

With the settlement of Europeans within the space within the late nineteenth century, and the arrival of the North West Mounted Police who started patrolling the area in 1874, bison grew to become the primary goal of the settlers. Drawn in by the seemingly countless herds of them roaming the prairies, bison grew to become not solely a meals supply, however focused for his or her hides, and sometimes used as goal follow for these with weapons. Alas, the availability was not countless, and the buffalo hit close to extinction in a really quick period of time.

In 1881 when the buffalo had been few and much between, the Blackfoot individuals pursued their conventional lifeways for so long as attainable. With the substantial lack of their principal meals provide, and with the persuading by North West Mounted Police patrols to adapt to a extra civilized means of being, they had been obliged to adapt to a brand new period.

Issues To Do on the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce Historic Web site

To finish the complete expertise at Head-Smashed-In, enable for a minimum of 2 hours to have ample time on the Customer Centre galleries and stroll to the Cliff High Viewpoint. Allocate extra time if you’re planning on doing any mountaineering within the surrounding space.

Tipi at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site
Tipi at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce – picture offered by Journey Alberta credit score

Customer Info Centre 

With 7 layered tales, the customer data centre at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce World Heritage Web site is world-class and stuffed with interpretive shows and interactive reveals. Weaving the cultural significance of the positioning with archaeological discoveries and historic knowledge, the knowledge offers a multi-faceted strategy to understanding how a deep data of the land and bison behaviour allowed the individuals to flourish for hundreds of years. As we be taught, bison represented extra to the Native individuals of the Plains than only a meals supply. They had been an integral a part of their lifestyle. Therefore why European settlement led to catastrophic harm to the Blackfoot Folks. 

Don’t neglect to cease into the reward store as effectively to peruse the genuine First Nations wares and souvenirs to commemorate your go to to the positioning.


Past the quite a few shows within the interpretive centre, there may be additionally an 80-person theatre the place a 15-minute film performs for example communal looking methods utilized by Plains Peoples on the cliff. We extremely suggest taking the time to look at a displaying because it does a superb job of displaying the looking technique and tradition that surrounds the buffalo bounce.

Wheelchair Accessibility 

For a multi-level data centre, the customer data centre at Head-Smashed-In is wheelchair pleasant. Visitors can select to both stroll the steps all through the tour or step onto the elevator to get to their desired ground. 

Interpretive Centre at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Interpretive Centre at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce – picture offered by Journey Alberta credit score

Even the lookout level on the prime of the centre has a paved pathway that results in the top with loads of benches for relaxation breaks. The lookout has loads of telescopes to permit guests to take a better take a look at the bounce web site or the breathtaking prairie panorama of the Porcupine Hills that encompass the positioning. 

Particular Issues for the 2022 Customer Season

No cafeteria – Though there may be an on-site cafeteria at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce, it won’t be open for the 2022 season. Guarantee to pack your personal picnic lunch, snacks, and loads of water particularly if you’re planning on doing some out of doors exploring. 

Capability restrictions – Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce is a well-liked tour bus and discipline journey cease and for the reason that majority of expertise lies throughout the interpretive centre, it might get very busy in the summertime months. Remember that there may be a wait to get in, particularly at peak occasions (sometimes 11am – 2pm every day). We suggest planning your go to accordingly: 10am – 11am or 2pm – 5pm could be good occasions to go to in an effort to keep away from intense crowds.

No tour guides – The hike to the drive lanes sometimes features a guided interpretation, nevertheless that won’t be obtainable within the 2022 season. Due to this fact, the favored “Hike To The Drive Lanes” program won’t be obtainable this season. The one self-guided mountaineering obtainable is the Higher Path and Viewpoint, and a stroll alongside the self-guided Decrease Path. Moreover, the interpretive centre might be self-guided, nevertheless there are many interactive shows to benefit from the expertise.

Pathway at Head-Smashed-In
Pathway at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce – picture offered by Journey Alberta credit score

No help to rise up the hill from the parking zone – Though the positioning itself may be very wheelchair pleasant, it is very important notice that the centre is perched on the hillside with the parking zone on the backside. It’s paved, however it’s a (comparatively quick) climb to get out of your automobile to the interpretive centre. It is usually in the midst of the prairie panorama so there isn’t any shade and temperatures routinely get above 30+ plus within the solar. If touring with somebody who could have problem with a steep stroll up and down the hill, we suggest dropping them off on the centre earlier than parking the automobile. 

Don’t Miss Visiting This Essential Archaeological Web site

Proper off the primary freeway, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce is a straightforward add-on to a visit between Calgary and Lethbridge! Filled with tradition and historical past from a singular perspective, this UNESCO World Heritage Web site is a cease worthy of a few hours that can delight vacationers of all ages.

Indigenous Guide at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Indigenous Information at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Bounce – picture offered by Journey Alberta credit score

For one more side of Alberta historical past, we extremely suggest additionally stopping in at the Fort Museum of the North-West Mounted Police simply down the road in Fort Macleod. Or spend a while within the area and plan to go to one other World Heritage Web site to test off your bucket record (there are 3 others in southern Alberta!).




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