Ya Ha Tinda Ranch

Banff National Park

Trail map

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Ya Ha Tinda Ranch trails description

Learn more about the trails at Ya Ha Tinda Ranch.

Welcome to the Ya Ha Tinda Government Ranch and Bighorn Campground. This guide will assist you in the proper use of the ranch and campground during your stay in this beautiful area. Please assist us in protecting this treasured spot for generations to come.

The Ya Ha Tinda covers 3,945 hectares, running 27 km along the north bank of the Red Deer River. Approximately one third of the ranch area is natural grassland and two thirds is mixed forest. This productive montane area has an abundance of wildlife including grizzly bear, wolf, cougar, moose, deer, and bighorn sheep. Today the area is a major winter range for elk, with about 1,000 elk wintering in the area.

The Ya Ha Tinda is private property owned and managed by Parks Canada. It is not a National Park. This ranch is the only federally operated working horse ranch in Canada. Horses are wintered and trained here to be used as working horses for patrolling and protecting Canada's Western National Parks. As an active working ranch, staff regularly use tractors, trucks, quads and other equipment on the property.

Ranch History

In the early 1900's the Brewster Brothers Transfer Company obtained a grazing lease in the area. By 1908 they were raising and breaking horses here for their guiding and outfitting business. Horses were wintered in the area and trailed to Banff and Lake Louise for the summer.

The Ya Ha Tinda ranch area was formerly within the boundaries of Rocky Mountains National Park. The boundary changed a number of times before the present day Banff National Park Boundary was established. In 1917, National Parks took over the area as a winter range, breeding and training facility for park horses.

If You're Heading Into Banff National Park

Banff National Park is about a 3 hour ride west from the Bighorn Campground. For full information on equestrian travel in the park, see the Banff National Park Horse Users' Guide.


Overnight trips into the park require both a Wilderness Pass and a Grazing Permit. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times in the park. For this reason we recommend that you leave your dog at home. Possession of firearms is not permitted while in the backcountry of a National Park. A National Parks Fishing Licence is required for fishing in all National Parks.


The Friends of the Eastern Slopes Association is a nonprofit society founded in 1994 which has the following objectives:

To provide input into the recreational use of the Eastern slopes of Alberta.

To encourage, foster and develop among its members a recognition of the importance of recreation and environment within the Eastern slopes of Alberta

To encourage and foster recreation and horse use in Alberta.


The association has been responsible for significant improvements to the Bighorn camp-ground. Please assist us in the proper use and maintenance of this area and campground. For further information on the Friends of the Eastern Slopes please contact: info@foesa.org

Ya Ha Tinda Ranch Use 

Hiking, hunting and horse travel is permitted on the ranch property.

Travel is not permitted within the fenced pastures along the east side of the main ranch road. These areas are posted and are shown with RED fence lines on the map . Please do not hike, bike, ride or hunt in these posted areas.

The staging and parking area (trailhead) for all users is at the Bighorn Campground. Parking elsewhere is not allowed.

The DRIFT FENCES adjacent to the Red Deer River and along the east boundary of the ranch have gates where trails intersect them. Travel through these drift fences is permitted, but PLEASE CLOSE ALL GATES.

No camping or campfires are allowed on the ranch property except at the Bighorn Campground.

Motorized and/or horse drawn vehicles are not allowed off the main ranch road or beyond the perimeter of the Bighorn Campground.

Dogs must be under control on the ranch property.

Cutting of trees is prohibited.

Grazing of horses is prohibited.

Avoid approaching Ya Ha Tinda horses to prevent the transmission of contagious diseases and for your own safety. Do not chase or harass ranch horses in any way.

Riders are requested to stay on the main trails as identified on the map .


Shooting is not permitted within 500 metres of the ranch buildings or in the direction of the ranch buildings.

Alberta Wildlife Regulations, Road Corridor Wildlife Sanctuary : this sanctuary encompasses the main ranch road from Eagle Creek to ranch headquarters buildings. Hunting is not allowed and firearms must be cased and unloaded, from the center-line of the road to 400 yards on either side of the road.

The Friends of The Eastern Slopes have spent many volunteer hours in maintenance and improvements to the campground. Please assist us in keeping these facilities in good condition.

Campground Rules

Camping is only allowed within the perimeter of the Bighorn campground. Camping is free of charge at this time.

Garbage facilities are not available at the campground. Be sure to remove all garbage and leave your campsite clean. Both grizzly and black bears frequent this area.

Please ensure that bears and other animals have no access at any time to your food or garbage.

All manure must be cleaned up and deposited at the manure pile. Cutting of trees is not permitted. Please bring your own firewood.

Tie your horses to your trailer or use the tie stalls provided.

Use panels in the designated area, or highline between trailers.

DO NOT tie your horse to trees or shrubs.

DO NOT highline between trees.

Grazing of horses within the campground or anywhere on the ranch property is not permitted.

DOGS - must be kept on a leash so as not to bother other campers. Please clean up after your dogs.

Persons who do not comply with ranch and campground rules will be asked to leave by ranch staff.


There is no phone service or cell range at the Bighorn campground. In the event of an accident where medical attention is required, please contact ranch staff who have phone capabilities.

If your horse has serious injuries or dies, you are responsible for its removal. If you require assistance, please contact the ranch staff.

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