All activities

Bar U Ranch National Historic Site

Cookhouse

A group of visitors watch an interpreter take a hot pie out of a stove
The “belly of the Bar U” historic cookhouse was vital to the ranch’s daily operations.

Situated in the heart of the historic ranch headquarters, the "belly of the Bar U” was at the centre of operations. This is where cowboys ate, slept and relaxed. It was a first stop for ranch visitors, where a meal and a cup of coffee was always waiting.

Discover the cookhouse as it was in the last decade of corporate operation. It was the first time a woman was in charge of the day-to-day in the cookhouse.

Don’t forget to visit the nearby garden, storehouses and the root cellar and explore how food was produced and preserved before modern-day refrigeration.

Historic ranch buildings

The chop house, one of the historic buildings at Bar U Ranch
The Bar U Ranch has the largest collection of historical ranch buildings in Canada.

Step back in time and into our historic buildings. There are 35 historic structures to explore when on site – and every one of them has a story to share about Bar U’s exciting history! Visit the newly restored Workhorse Barn and visit the Tractor Shed to see farming equipment of days gone by.

Visit with interpreters inside the Harness Repair shop and the Saddlehorse Barn. A trip to Bar U Ranch is not complete without a stop at the cookhouse to see how ranch hands ate meals, and head upstairs to see where they slept while the ranch was in operation throughout the 1940s.

Visit our livestock

An interpreter rides a horse on site at the Bar U Ranch
Ike, one of the Bar U Ranch saddlehorses.

When the great bison herds faded into memory, ranches like the Bar U were able to use the native rough fescue grass to sustain herds of cattle, and the horses needed to handle them. The Bar U Ranch became a self-sustaining community and the amount of livestock grew.

Today at the Bar U Ranch, connect with and learn about a variety of animals.

Visit the teams of Percheron horses that provide the daily wagon ride, or take a walk along the Pekisko Creek trail and to see cows, their calves, and maybe even a bison!

Meet our interpreters

An interpreter shows two girls how to make crafts in the leather shop
The Bar U Ranch interprets a time when the west was young.

Hear about the people that helped to make this ranch famous: royalty, ranchers, poets, politicians and even outlaws!

Visit interpreters to discover essential ranching roles and tasks of ranching life. Cowboys, saddle-makers and cooks all have fantastic stories to tell and activities to take part in! Hear cowboy poetry, songs and legends around the campfire at Roundup Camp. Hop on the Percheron Wagon Ride to see and learn about the western area of the historic site’s core and the riparian zone of Pekisko Creek. At the Saddlehorse Barn, hone your roping skills and discover more about the life of ranching cowboys.

Percheron wagon ride

Percheron horses are the “gentle giants of ranching”.

Meet us at Roundup Camp for an introduction to these magnificent creatures, and a 30-minute wagon ride experience.

Climb aboard our horse-drawn wagon ride and hear the stories of George Lane and his amazing herd of Percheron draft horses.

Wagon rides are free with admission and available daily, check at the visitor centre for operating times.

Rhythm of the land

Threshing season at the Bar U Ranch

Experience the pulse of the Bar U community, from spring’s rebirth to the gathering of the harvest.

The land along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains establishes a rhythm for those who call it home, and you can experience it all season long at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site.

Summer

In summertime, you can check on the progress of the calves as they bask with their mothers along Pekisko Creek in the welcome shade of the cottonwood trees. Listen to the whir of a horse-drawn knife as the hay crop is cut and look for your chance to “pitch in” with a fork to help put up this year’s feed. In the waning days of summer, the horses are back in the field cutting the cereal crop in anticipation of harvest. Bring your gloves, the grain needs to be stacked in stooks!

Fall

The crisp, clear days of autumn are a time of celebration. Shake the soil from a vegetable garden selection to experience the taste of fresh. Savour the aroma of fresh baking from a wood fired cook stove. Whet your appetite by strolling around the field and maybe even helping build a load on the horse-drawn bundle racks as they deliver the golden harvest to a belt-driven harvester.

Soon, the land will slip back into its winter slumber.

Roping

A young visitor tries her hand at roping while watched by an interpreter
Try your hand at roping a replica steer.

Pick up the basics of a cowboy’s number one skill - roping. Learn to cast a rope loop over a replica steer's horn with some simple instructions, then challenge your friends.

Caution - it's addictive! You’ll want to take a lariat home with you.

Roundup Camp

An interpreter pours some cowboy coffee for two visitors at Roundup Camp
Try some cowboy coffee at Roundup camp.

Take a walk over the Pekisko Creek bridge and into the shade of the cottonwood trees. Head back in time to the days before ranching operations built fences, a time when a chuckwagon was home on the range.

Explore how cowboys lived and worked away from the ranch headquarters for months at a time.

Sip on fresh-brewed cowboy coffee as the smoke from the campfire curls lazily into the air. Listen as hsitoric interpreters tell the tales of ranching in the Canadian west.

Stoney Nakoda Camp

Indigenous peoples were vital to ranch operations.

Nestled along the banks of Pekisko Creek, explore the Stoney Nakoda encampment. Step inside the camp’s tipi and hear Indigenous interpreters share traditional stories. Discover the important contributions of Indigenous peoples to the area and the ranching industry in western Canada.

Bar U Ranch lies within traditional Indigenous territory. The lands and waters have been used since time immemorial by Indigenous communities for sustenance, ceremony, trade and travel.

Interpreters are in attendance at the Stoney Nakoda encampment on Saturdays and Sundays

Walking trails

Two red chairs next to one of the walking trails at Bar U Ranch
Red chairs along the Viewpoint Trail.

The Pekisko Creek Trail is a 3 km trail that is accessible both on foot and by bicycle. Discover the Bar U rangelands and less-visited areas of the site. Take a break and stop for a picnic under the trees near the cool waters of Pekisko Creek.

The Viewpoint Trail is a stroll that begins at the Visitor Centre, and follows a ridge above Pekisko Creek.

The Riparian Trail loop starts near Roundup Camp and circles around the Stoney Nakoda Camp. This walk ends at two of our red chairs.

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