Outpost Wetlands Natural Area

Outpost Lake was so named because of its proximity to a Northwest Mounted Police post during the 19th century. It is located on the Canada-U.S. border about 30 km southwest of Cardston.

Outpost Wetlands Site Map (Government of Alberta)
Outpost Wetlands Site Map (Government of Alberta)

Map of the Area

Any maps and map views are for general information only. Do not rely on them for navigation or to determine legal boundaries.

Other Information

Outpost Wetlands Natural Area occupies 72 ha just west of Police Outpost Provincial Park and adjacent to the Montana border, and preserves a small creek and wetland complex. The Nature Conservancy of Canada, with the Alberta government, provided funding for acquisition of this important NA [1].

This natural area is bisected by a meltwater channel into which Boundary Creek flows, and is divided into 3 distinct areas:

  1. The northeast portion has south-facing grasslands with bedrock outcrops and patches of horizontal juniper and diverse other grassland plants
  2. The southwest portion is comprised of the lower slope of Chief Mountain which, although covered mostly with aspen forest, contains several open meadows and ravines
  3. The central portion is a large wetland, one of the few remaining in the region.

The site supports a variety of birds, including Mountain Bluebird, Common Loon, Eastern Kingbird, American Goldfinch and Common Snipe (Alberta Parks website, 2012).

National Border, National Significance. This is one of the few Foothills Parkland areas that is officially protected and is of immense value within the province’s Protected Areas system. Because of its location in a narrow transitional belt between prairie (Grasslands Natural Region) and higher elevational areas of the Rocky Mountain Natural Region, the area is very rich in plant species. Several rare plant species occur in the study area, including some of national significance [2].

NWMP Outpost. The adjacent provincial park was established in 1970, with boundaries expanded to their current status in 1982. The name of the park is derived from the Northwest Mounted Police outpost which was operated near the lake from 1881 to 1899, to patrol the border and help control whiskey smuggling. The outpost buildings are no longer in evidence. The area experienced moderate grazing prior to its protection, and parts of the south half of the park have been cultivated and seeded to non-native plant species [2].

Donating for the Future. The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Government of Alberta co-operatively provided funding to purchase this special area. The people and the Government of Alberta gratefully acknowledge donations from Kettenbach Farms Ltd. and Arthur and Violet Scott who helped make protection of this Natural Area possible [1].

Site Statistics

Site NameOutpost Wetlands
Site TypeNatural Area
SubtypeOrder-in-council (OC)
Natural Region(s)Foothills Parkland
O.C. No. (Land Ref. Manual)588/87
PASite ID (Map Ref #)499
Site # (Parks Website)
Total Area72.44 ha. (179.00 ac.)
Recreation ActivitiesBirding, Cross-country skiing, Hiking – backcountry
Operated ByParks Division
Notes and Comments
Statistics and Details for Outpost Wetlands


The following links are provided as a courtesy but are not verified or endorsed by SAPAA. Clicking on the link will cause you to leave the SAPAA website. Primary source of information is: Government of Alberta – Outpost Wetlands Natural Area. All websites accessed 2022-11-05.

  1. Police Outpost Provincial Park and Outpost Natural Area Visitation Guide, 2005.
  2. Cormish, B. Alberta Environmental Protection, Ecological Land Classification of Police Outpost Provincial Park and Outpost Wetlands Natural Area, 2001.

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