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Darwin Wiggett | oopoomoo

Escape to Mars on a Budget: Visit Red Rock Coulee

These massive round red boulders aren't just rocks; they're the remnants of an ancient ocean's game of marbles!

Have you ever dreamt of visiting Mars but don’t have the money saved up for a SpaceX adventure?

Fret not! Alberta’s got you covered with its own extraterrestrial landscape here on Earth – the Red Rock Coulee Natural Area.

Located about 54 kilometres south-southwest of Medicine Hat and 26 kilometres south of the hamlet of Seven Persons on Alberta Highway 887, this place is so out-of-this-world that you might start looking for little green men!

Giant Marbles or Alien Eggs?

The first thing that’ll catch your eye at Red Rock Coulee is the massive round red boulders, some as large as cars! 

These aren’t just any rocks; they’re spheroid concretions. 

Sounds fancy, right? 

These “rock eggs” were formed millions of years ago in an ancient ocean. Minerals gathered around a core (like a tiny pebble or fossil), layer by layer, like how an oyster forms a pearl. But instead of forming a shiny gem, these magnificent red boulders were created. 

Some say the results look like the remnants of a giant’s marble game, while others swear they’re dragon eggs, and still others call them giant cow patties. 

large round red rocks scattered across a prairire landscape
Large spheriod rocks litter the landscape at Red Rock Coulee. Darwin Wiggett | oopoomoo

While the red boulders steal the show, there’s more to Red Rock Coulee than meets the eye. 

This natural area is a haven for flora and fauna. 

From the prickly pear cactus to mule deer, coyotes, rabbits, snakes, hawks and golden eagles, there’s always a surprise waiting around the corner (or boulder).

Photographers, Assemble!

Red Rock Coulee is nothing short of paradise for those with a keen eye and a camera. 

The landscape, especially during sunrise or sunset, offers a mesmerizing play of light and shadow. The crimson hue of the rocks against the vast blue Alberta sky? Pure magic!

The website PhotoJourneys aptly describes it as a place where every turn offers a new perspective, a new play of surprise and delight. 

Whether you’re an amateur Instagrammer or a professional shutterbug, this place promises shots that’ll make your followers go #Wow!

And if you’re lucky, you might even capture the Northern Lights dancing above this alien landscape.

The Unsung Geological Treasure

Despite its beauty and uniqueness, Red Rock Coulee remains one of Alberta’s lesser-known gems.

large round red rocks scattered across a prairire landscape
The contrast between the electric greens and orange-red rocks is stunning in June. Darwin Wiggett | oopoomoo

But hey, that just means fewer crowds for those in the know! 

It’s a serene escape from the hustle and bustle, where you can sit on a rock (preferably not a dragon egg) and lose yourself in thoughts or perhaps pen down a poem or two.

Note, there is no campsite and minimal facilities there, but that wild charm keeps the hoards away.

A Few Tips Before You Go

  • Footwear: This isn’t the place for your fancy heels or flip-flops. Wear sturdy shoes; the terrain can be uneven, and the cacti piercing!
  • Weather: Alberta’s weather loves playing tricks. It can go from sunny to stormy in the blink of an eye. So, pack accordingly.
  • Respect the Space: Remember, it’s a protected natural area. Leave no trace, and let’s keep this gem sparkling for future generations.

Red Rock Coulee is Alberta’s unsung geological treasure, a testament to the wonders of nature, both prehistoric and contemporary. 

Whether you’re a geology geek, a photography enthusiast, or someone looking for the next Area 51, this place promises an experience that’s truly out of this world.

So, the next time someone talks about space travel, just wink and say, “Been there, done that… in Alberta!” 🚀🌍📸

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