Here’s where you get to be a buffalo or a buffalo runner


Here’s where you get to be a buffalo or a buffalo runner

Head-Smashed-In provides very real glimpse at the First Nations buffalo hunt

Joanne Elves

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Can you imagine laying in the grass under a skin of a wolf while the searing sun beat down, waiting and waiting for the herd of buffalo to move in the direction you want them to? Not just minutes but hours and maybe days. It was a tremendously tough task but you as a Buffalo Runner had to do it. At Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site near Fort McLeod, find out just how much that buffalo meant for survival for the Blackfoot Nation.

Dare To Explore. Plan your trip to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

A visit to the World Heritage Site is a #BucketlistAB must do. Not only will you learn about the buffalo hunts, you’ll have a chance to re-enact it with your family or friends.

Here’s a few highlights of what you can expect when you visit, but take a look at the full story over on ZenSeekers.

Pam Drover

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is camouflaged in the sandstone outcrops in the foothills of Southern Alberta near the town of Fort McLeod.

Inside the centre, the story of life on the prairie unfolds, following the nomadic life of the First Nations Peoples who based their survival on the teeming herds of buffalo. As you move through the building the timeline gets closer and closer to modern day. It starts thousands of years ago when the First Nations people relied on their skills, strength and spiritual beliefs to survive.

During the summer attend some of the fascinating events. Take a walk with an elder to learn how the Buffalo Runners directed the buffalo over the cliff, or, go to the bottom and see what it was like working the kill site.

Pam Drover

A very popular experience is the Pis’kun program. Mondays and Fridays throughout July and August the three-hour immersive experience not only tells guests about buffalo hunting, it has them experience it for themselves. Right from the traditional Blackfoot blessing where sweet grass is burned to learning to use an ancient spear thrower to tasting dried buffalo meat; the guests are involved. They participate in a mini buffalo jumping, re-enacting roles from buffalo runners to driving buffalo (people get to be buffalo too) to spearing the animal. Not only is it educational, it’s a fun experience for the entire family.

Planning your trip

Learn more about the centre and how to find it by visiting ZenSeekers, our sister site bringing you the best of travel and unique experiences from all across Alberta and British Columbia.

Dare to Explore: Click here for more information to plan a trip to Head-Smashed-In.

Book now: The Ramada Inn Pincher Creek has partnered with local experience operators to offer up some sweet #BucketlistAB packages here.

SnowSeekers and Travel Alberta have partnered to bring you the #BucketlistAB Expedition - explore now.

More information

When you visit Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump, be sure to check out a few other historic sites in the region. Check the Alberta History website to learn about Leitch Collieries, the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre and the Remington Carriage Museum. The Fort Museum in Fort McLeod is also a wonderful learning centre, only 22 km from the Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump.

Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site is 160 km south of Calgary on Highway 2. Watch for the giant metal buffalo sign at Highway 785. Turn west and at 16 km you will still be looking for the building, but it’s there hidden in the cliffs.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is just one of a series of attractions across Alberta showcasing its heritage and history.  Others include Frank’s Slide Interpretive Centre and the Remington Carriage Museum. Learn more here.