Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 18 kilometres north west of Fort Macleod. It is a perfect stop to make when you are travelling in this southern portion of Alberta. We stopped in after we spent a weekend at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, and it was the perfect way to end our weekend!
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of the world’s oldest, largest, and best preserved buffalo jumps. And now as a World Heritage Site, it serves to preserve the site, and teach people about this unique method of hunting that was used by the Plains people for nearly 6,000 years. It is a truly fascinating place!
To have a really good, informative visit, plan to spend at least an hour and a half. This time will include exploring the interpretive centre, viewing the must-see theatre presentations (only about 10 minutes long), as well as taking a quick walk out to the top of the jump.
The interpretive centre, which is a beautiful building built into the cliffs, is a 5 level centre of different exhibits. You will likely spend most of your time going through the centre, as you take a self guided tour back in time to the way of life the people of the Plains. As you go through the levels you will explore the buffalo hunting culture, how the herds were driven off the cliffs, why the buffalo hunting ended, as well as the archaeological work done at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
There is so much to see, and great for people of all ages…kids enjoy this centre as much as the adults! Our favourite part of our visit here though, is always the short walk out to the top of the jump. The view is stunning, and the jump is fascinating!
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Details:
- Location: 18 kilometres north west of Fort Macleod
- Hours and Admission Information: Visit the website.
- Timing: Plan to spend at least 1 1/2 hours to get a full experience.
What to do at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump:
- Interpretive Centre: Visit the 5 level interpretive centre.
- Film: Watch the film presentations. They are short, but very informative.
- Walk: Take a walk out to the top of the jump.
- Eat: Stay and have an outdoor picnic, or eat at the Buffalo Jump Cafe.
- Special Events: There are special events planned throughout the year as well, including Drumming and Dancing, Harvest Days, Guided Tours, Geocaching, and Guided Off-Trail Hikes. Visit the website for dates, times, and reservations (if required).