Plan your 2019 travels in the Special Areas TravelSpecialAreas.com
When planning a holiday or even just a weekend get-away, the Special Areas may not be the first destination that pops into your mind. But this two million hectare region is an area of much history and many treasures.
It is largely a flat, open, sometimes rolling landscape featuring short grass prairie, cattle and crops and about 5,000 people who call this centre of the Palliser Triangle home. The wideopen vistas of the Special Areas are breathtaking.
In 1938, a federal government act created the initial Special Areas in Alberta, which at that time covered approximatly three million hectares — the Act was designed to manage farmland and communities largely abandoned by an exodus of early 1900s settlers driven out by drought and poverty.
The farming practices of that time, coupled with two decades of drought, aggravated by the Great Depression of late 1920s and Dirty 30s, created the perfect storm of hardship for people in the arid region. Later, one historian described it as “a place where frogs lived for five years before they learned to swim.”
If you appreciate wide-open spaces, the region welcomes all to experience the best that prairie living has to offer. First, you need to reach the Special Areas.
It’s about a 90 minute drive north on Hwy 4, from Medicine Hat to Empress and other nearby communities such as Acadia Valley and on up to Oyen. Coming from Calgary, and heading east it’s about a two-hour drive over to Hanna and onto the hamlets and villages of Richdale, Scotfield and Youngstown. And travelling southeast from Edmonton take Hwy 12 down to Veteran and nearby Consort then travel south to New Brigden, Sedalia and Little Gem.
The region boasts more than thirty community museums and historical sites, three golf courses, annual events such as rodeos, and country fairs, and seasonal wagon rides, trail rides, nature walks and hiking trails. There are great hunting, fishing and boating opportunities and about twenty municipal, provincial and private campgrounds. Plenty of great local restaurants, crafts and artisans pepper the region.