Bob Creek Wildland / The Whaleback | Alberta, Canada
More commonly known as the Whaleback, the Bob Creek Wildland and its sister area the Black Creek Heritage Rangeland protects Whaleback Ridge and one of Alberta’s most important elk winter ranges. A montane environment of Douglas Fir and rough fescue grasses, this area in southwest Alberta has sweeping vistas of the Livingstone Range hanging over the western boundary and the Castle Mountains to the south.
There are no visitor facilities or frontcountry camping in the Wildland area. Backcountry camping is not permitted in the Black Creek Heritage Rangeland but is allowed in the Bob Creek Wildland.
Motorized vehicles are permitted on designated trails in the Camp Creek and White Creek valleys and restricted elsewhere.
Summer cattle grazing is permitted and regulated in the area.
Driving Directions to Key Access Points
Located 140 km south of Calgary off Highway 22 and 30 km north of Highway 3. South from Longview 80 km will bring the visitor to the Oldman River bridge. On the north side of the bridge turn west on the gravel road and continue 10 km to the Bob Creek staging area.
Alternatively to reach the Camp Creek staging area turn west off the Bob Creek road at km 8, just after the road crosses Bob Creek and swings north. Continue for 4 km on this rough dirt track.
An eastern access point for hikers and equestrians is available at Callum Creek on Highway 22. Look for the small parking area off the Cowboy Trail route, 3 km south of the Hwy 520 junction on the Porcupine Hills Hump. This access is adjacent to the historic Waldron Ranch.
Highlights of this Wilderness Area or Conservation Area
The Whaleback Ridge rises from the south and peaks 13 miles to the north with lateral ridges running east and west off the spine. The heavily forested north facing slopes contrast sharply with the south facing grass slopes, creating a visual representation of a whale's skeleton, hence the name the Whaleback.
Easy trails in the valley floor or along the ridges and open forests combined with wide open vistas make this a favorite destination for hikers and horseback riders. Douglas Fir stands of giant 400 year old trees and 500 year old Limber Pine on exposed high ridges provide dramatic landscapes.
Deep winter snows to the west on the Oldman and Elk River headwaters in November and December force the elk to migrate down to the Whaleback from their summer mountain ranges. Here chinook winds and warmer temperatures bare off the rough fescue grass slopes, providing easy foraging on this excellent protein source.
Cattle grazing mimics the historical environmental benefit of bison grazing on these foothill slopes by browsing off the heavy forage for better growth of palatable forage for elk. Please respect the adjacent landowners and grazing leases by leaving gates as you find them.
At the southern limit of this backcountry preserve, the Oldman River slices through a narrow slot in the Livingstone Range, locals call “The Gap.”
Key Access Points to this Wilderness or Conservation Area
The Key Access Points to Bob Creek Wildland Park and the adjacent Black Creek Heritage Rangeland are off Highway 22 "The Cowboy Trail". Turn west on the gravel road on the north side of the Oldman River and follow it to the parking area at the trailhead on Bob Creek.