Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site

Cowboy Trail: Rocky Mountain House Part two

Our trip from Sundry to Rocky Mountain House was only 81 kilometers, we arrived early in the day so we could check out the National Park.

The "condo" at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site campground. Unserviced sites well groomed and clean. Good washrooms and showers important to travellers.
The “condo” at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site campground. Unserviced sites well groomed and clean. Good washrooms and showers important to travellers.
A very imortant part of our history is on display here.
A very important part of our history is on display here.
All the information you need right here.
All the information you need right here. I recognize Welcome.
Even on a rainy gloomy day the park and its trails were very inviting and well groomed, pleased we took the time to stop.
Even on a rainy gloomy day the park and its trails were very inviting and well groomed, pleased we took the time to stop.

Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site commemorates a series of fur-trade posts built between 1799 and 1864 by the North West Co and the Hudson’s Bay Co (HBC) near the junction of the North Saskatchewan and Clearwater rivers. The posts were established to form a link between the eastern supply routes and the Pacific Slope fur trade, and it was intended that they would promote trading relations with the Kootenay of eastern BC.

The fort located where the Clearwater and North Saskatchwan rivers meet on the eastern Rockys.
The fort located where the Clearwater and North Saskatchwan rivers meet on the eastern Rockies.
Those in canoes and kayaks can follow the routes of the aboriginal fur traders.
Those in canoes and kayaks can follow the routes of the aboriginal fur traders.

The posts were in the territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, which opposed trade with the Kootenay, so they failed in their intended purpose. Instead, Rocky Mountain House became the centre for sporadic trade with the Blackfoot. Despite HBC attempts to close the post, Blackfoot pressure kept it in operation. Little remains except 2 restored chimneys from the last establishment. Trade with the local aboriginal peoples continued until 1821 when the companies merged, they continued to trade until 1875 and closed the Rocky Mountain House post. The name of the settlement however remained. We’re told the Post there was opened and closed seven times in its existence. The site includes a campground, visitor centre and interpretive hiking trails.

All that remains of the original Fort.
All that remains of the original Fort.
Only two original chimneys left on the original site.
Only two original chimneys left on the original site.

The Park campground unserviced sites were $26 per night where we stayed. The campground also had showers and washrooms as well as some other interesting accomodations. One can book the Métis Trapper Tents: Sleeps up to 5: double or twin beds, wood floor, table, and chairs. Fur Trade Camp Kit: bison hide, period cooking kit and utensils, blow tube and flint/steel fire-starting kit, bannock mix, trapper’s tea, spices, oil, and soap.

No RV, no problem one can rent a trappers tent on site.
No RV, no problem one can rent a trappers tent on site.

Another option Tipis: Sleeps up to 8: sleeping mats. Wood floor, table, and chairs. Fur Trade Camp Kit: bison hide, period cooking kit and utensils, blow tube and flint/steel fire-starting kit, bannock mix, trapper’s tea, spices, oil, and soap.

Another overnight option is a tipi right near the replica Fort.
Another overnight option is a tipi right near the replica Fort.

Or more modern Trapline Cabins: Sleeps 6 people: 1 double pull out bed and 4 sleeping mats in the loft. BBQ, table, chairs, cookware, utensils, mini fridge, induction burner, microwave, and lighting. There are also Walk in tenting sites along the river.

Trappers cabin a more modern version of the originals is also available for rental.
Trappers cabin a more modern version of the originals is also available for rental.
I think any trapper would have found these accomidations a little over the top.
I think any trapper would have found these accomodations a little over the top.

The day was a bit overcast and rainy, we donned our ponchos and toured the histoic sites walking approximately 5 kms. There are many hiking trails of varying distances to choose from. We found the park very interesting watching some jig dancing, wearing native costumes in the days of fur trading.

An old time light on the trappers cabin.
An old time light on the trappers cabin.
One of the river trails leading to the walk in tent camping sites. Beautiful even in the rain.
One of the river trails leading to the walk in tent camping sites. Beautiful even in the rain.

We also visited a early blacksmith shop demonstration before hiking back in the pouring rain. Along the river path we took back is where we discovered the Trapper cabins and walk in tenting sites. There are many hiking trails where if you pick the right time you can see Bison and also some in person demonstrations of Tipi living on the prairies. We found the park very interesting and to do it justice perhaps two days to see it all taking ones time to check out all it had to offer. Sometimes we just rush too much.

A working blacksmith shop this day making nails.
A working blacksmith shop this day making nails.
Moulding the hot iron into useable nails.
Moulding the hot iron into usable nails.
Some of the items that would be made in the blacksmith shops  by skilled craftsmen.
Some of the items that would be made in the blacksmith shops by skilled craftsmen.
We enjoyed the music and dancing demonstrations put on by these young students.
We enjoyed the music and dancing demonstrations put on by these young students.
Items from days of the fur trade on display.
Items from days of the fur trade on display.
reliving a lifestyle of days gone by, cooking and traditional ways presented well by these young people happy tpo answer questions.
Re-living a lifestyle of days gone by, cooking and traditional ways presented well by these young people happy to answer questions.
Imagine paddling one of these York boats full of furs.
Imagine paddling one of these York boats full of furs.
Yeo David Thompson walked here with his wife Charlotte.
Yep David Thompson walked here with his wife Charlotte.
A rendering of what the layout of the fort was like.
A rendering of what the layout of the fort was like.
A full scale metal frame outline of the fort now stands over the original site.
A full scale metal frame outline of the fort now stands over the original site.
Inside the replica fort shows the courtyard, sleeping areas and fur storage sheds all in scale.
Inside the replica fort shows the courtyard, sleeping areas and fur storage sheds all in scale.
for some accomidations were modest built from materials in the surrounding area.
For some accomodations were modest built from materials in the surrounding area.
One of the first RVs of those settling the west.
One of the first RVs of those settling the west.
Equipment from one of the first transport companies, no fossel fuels required.
Equipment from one of the first transport companies, no fossel fuels required.

The campground was quiet for most of the evening but it was Friday and the weekenders arrived. Arriving later in the evening they set up across the road until 1 am, portable fire pits, tables chairs, BBQ’s were all set up with the constant banging around of car doors and the unhooking and leveling of the big unit. At just before 8 am in the morning the generator fired up to perk that first cup. Other units were arriving and it looked like it was a group camp out so we decided to move on that day and head to Drayton Valley.
Am I old and grumpy… probably, but first of all we try not to arrive too late at our campsite and if we do we try to be as quiet as possible, saving setting up to the next day. But we’re finding unserviced sites are becoming very noisy. We have spent a lot of money on solar, batteries and ways of cooking making coffee etc without a lot of power so we can utilize the less expensive unserviced sites. We carry a generator as a last resort emergency power source, as I hate the sound of even our own quiet generator running and I’m sure the couple in the tent next to me did not leave the city to camp next to a power plant. We as RVers must be considerate of those who wish to get into nature and camp without all the necessities of home with them and do not require power.
This site is about RVing and travel so I can rage on. One of our favorite National Park campgrounds at the Narrows in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan. Once a quiet campground to enjoy the sounds of nature and a little peace and quiet around the campfire has become a mobile home park with generators providing the power day and yes last year all night. In one way I feel sorry for those who were sold a 40 foot something on wheels that requires massive power and they provide a single 12v battery, or perhaps two at most. This little 12v battery has to power two maybe three slides, at least four leveling jacks and of course the power awnings just to get set up, and already the battery is dead. This is before the microwave, air conditioner, coffee perk, toaster, water pump and large screen TVs are even turned on. Yes one would have to run a generator, or better yet book a site with power they now come with 50 amp. These units they call campers are actually mobile homes and require 110 power not one 12 volt battery as sold by the mobile home dealer.
Unfortunately we along with a lady who does a lot of camping especially at the Narrows packed up and left early as this is not what we signed up for. We choose the Narrows for what it used to be, a quiet place to listen to the loons, and escape the noise of everyday life in the city to CAMP. Perhaps it’s just me but when you book an unserviced site one should be prepared to do without power, sewer and water. I would not think of taking my 4×4 truck camper into a walk in tenting site. Just a little consideration folks we all love the getaway.
When you spend months in your RV as we do we get to see many places and experience all types of camping and people. We find those who spend a lot of time in there RV and travelling are much more relaxed, happy and considerate of those camped around them. We travel for the sights, meeting new people and to enjoy the beauty of nature God created. There is nothing more beautiful than nature quiet and at peace. For all others there are taverns, bars and nighclubs and city lights and sounds built for exactly that reason.
We enjoy sharing a bit of the beauty and places we see in hope it will inspire others to travel and learn about our history, communities and lifestyles. We share the good and the bad of RVing along with the beauty of nature where there is no downside if left in it’s natural form. Let’s be mindful to keep nature and its creatures for all to enjoy, by not leaving our garbage and destroying natural habitat along with a healthy respect of the people around us. Even the grumpy old campers in their slide in truck campers.
No more rants I hope that I have not offended but I would rather it was taken as constructive criticism. Thanks to our new subscribers, our old ones will tell you they have never been bombarded with unwanted product, just notices when I get around to posting. Were just selling the lifestyle as we see it nothing more. Your comments are alwayts appreciated.
Next post we continue up the Cowboy Trail (yes there is such a thing I did not make that up) check it out. Until then we hope to meet some time down the road.
Gerry (RVcowboy)
Charlotte (Editor In Chief

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