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Dust Off Your Cowboy Boots: Why Pincher Creek is a Western Gem

From staying at a working ranch to taking in events featuring western heritage activities, tip your hat towards Pincher Creek for some authentic city slicker fun.

It makes sense that horses and Pincher Creek go hand-in-hand. Long before colonization, Indigenous Peoples travelled and settled in the region, where they were often following large herds of bison, often on horseback. At the time, the Indigenous name for Pincher Creek was Little Spitzee, where “spitzee” meant “high trees along running water”[1].

The North West Mounted Police set up in nearby Fort Macleod in the late 1800s, and one officer came across a pair of rusted pincers, a tool used to trim horses’ hooves, in the creek. From that point, Pincher Creek was the name given to the creek and eventually the town.

Today, Pincher Creek is in the heart of some of Alberta’s best ranch and farming land, offering a diversity of flat land, rolling hills and the southern Canadian Rockies in the distance.

Home on the Range: Stay and Play at a Local Ranch

There are a number of options to stay at a true working ranch in the Pincher Creek area, where you can experience the lifestyle of a real cowboy or cowgirl.

The Lodge at Thanksgiving Ranch is in a spectacular setting: More than 4,000 acres at your doorstep, perfectly framed by the Canadian Rockies. The lodge is a traditional log construction, with no detail spared. The lodge can sleep up to 14 guests across four suites, and all guests can enjoy horseback riding, hiking, photography and mountain biking. On your ride, you may come across peaceful herds of grazing cattle or catch glimpses of wildlife. Your hosts will help you feel comfortable in the saddle, whether you’re a novice or experienced rider.  After a day on the horse, relax in their indoor pool or enjoy a glass of wine and home-cooked meal in the lodge’s comfortable sitting room.

Flint Rock Ranch is, quite simply, paradise. Home to Mitchell Brothers Beef, the ranch offers uniquely beautiful lodging options for anyone looking to unplug and enjoy the quiet sounds of nature. They have three beautifully refurbished Airstreams on the property, complete with well appointed kitchens and all the comforts of home. Cook up your favourite meal then spend your evening gazing at the stars before tucking in under a cozy duvet on an Endy mattress. It’s camping – Luxury style! 

For visitors looking for a little more space as a family, the ranch also has two cabins as more traditional accommodations. Both cabins are fully furnished with traditional ranch touches like big soaker tubs and western-inspired décor. Enjoy games in the main field or make use of the communal cookhouse for bigger groups or meals. Flint Rock is a great launchpad to other destinations in the region, or the ultimate destination to escape life for a while and watch the cattle roam nearby.

More than Rodeo – Pincher Creek Pro Rodeo is a weekend-long Celebration of Western Heritage

Every August, some of the top talent on Canada’s Pro Rodeo circuit arrives in Pincher Creek for the annual Pincher Creek Pro Rodeo. Featuring all the traditional rodeo events, the grounds will put you shoulder-to-shoulder with local ranching families, as they take in the rodeo and activities. The town comes to life with a variety of events, including a free pancake breakfast, community competitions, a western market and more. In 2023, the event also included a free outdoor movie, Lemonade Day competition, live music and a Cabaret. It’s a perfect opportunity to spend the weekend learning about Pincher Creek’s history and enjoying traditional western events and activities. Stay tuned for future dates and activities here.

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