The Cowboy Trail

From Mayerthorpe to Cardston, this is Alberta’s Cowboy Trail, so named after the 700km excursion that runs along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a rather peaceful journey full of cattle, horses and open fields. It also happens to be the path that many of Alberta’s original cowboys took during their cattle drives north from Montana.

In the 1800s, cattle would have grazed freely on the prairies. Ranchers allowed the animals to roam during the winter on land leased from the government. Cattle mostly headed south where they found grass that wasn’t completely covered in snow, and stayed there until cowboys returned for the spring round-up. By the 1880s there were large multi-ranch round-ups as ranchers needed to separate herds that had co-mingled over the long winter months. It’s said that herds could be up to 100,000 animals in size.

However, these multi-ranch round-up quickly disappeared around the turn of the century when homesteaders were offered cheap land from the Canadian government. As settlers arrived in droves, cattle could no longer wander wherever they pleased, and were eventually confined to ranch land.

The photos below are courtesy of 6-year old La Niña who was trying to get “the perfect cloud photo.” The “hats on posts” shot was also a difficult one to take from a moving vehicle.

All were taken outside Longview, about an hour and a half south of Calgary.

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