Red Rock Coulee Natural Area

The main feature of this natural landscape is the large spherical reddish boulders (concretions), some of which measure 2.5 metres in diameter. They are scattered across the badlands and coulees, and can be seen along the hiking trails, as well as from the viewpoint on Highway 887 [1].

Panarama, Red Rock Coulee, ca. 2000, Ellis Bartkiewicz (Alberta Parks)
Panarama, Red Rock Coulee, ca. 2000, Ellis Bartkiewicz (Alberta Parks)

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

Red Rock Coulee Natural Area contains large, red, spherical sandstone concretions that have eroded out of the softer bedrock (and provide the best example of spheroid rock formations in Alberta); the concretions measure up to 2.5 m across and are considered to be among the largest in the world. The natural area consists of eroded, steep-sided coulees and a small upland of fescue-needlegrass vegetation. In places, hoodoos (columns of bedrock) have formed. This site lies in the Grassland Natural Region, Mixedgrass Subregion. A former glacial lakebed, this geology provides some of the best agricultural land in Alberta and, as with other sub-regions in the Parkland and Grassland natural regions, it has proven difficult to find representative landscapes that have not been cultivated (Alberta Parks website, 2012).

WHAT IS A CONCRETION? Formed approximately 65 million years ago in ancient seas when mineral matter — shells, algae, bone, and so on — formed nuclei to which other matter adhered, the concretions are beautiful behemoths to behold. The ones that are cracked, broken or in various states of erosion actually show distinct rings that demonstrate the growth around a nucleus or concretion theory. Red Rock Coulee concretions are one of the most accessible but they are not unique to Alberta. Another Alberta example, a remote area on the Athabasca River at Grand Rapids, boasts some of the largest concretions in the world [2].

WHAT IS A COULEE? Coulee is a term applied rather loosely to different landforms that refer to a kind of valley or drainage zone. The word coulee comes from the Canadian French coulée, from the French couler meaning ‘to flow’ [3].

Site Statistics

Site NameRed Rock Coulee
Site TypeNatural Area
SubtypeOrder-in-council (OC)
Natural Region(s)Dry Mixedgrass; Mixedgrass
O.C. No. (Land Ref. Manual)146/85
PASite ID (Map Ref #)66
Site # (Parks Website)422
Total Area324.15 ha. (800.98 ac.)
Recreation ActivitiesHiking – front country, wildlife viewing
Operated ByParks Division
Notes and Comments
Statistics and Details for Red Rock Coulee
Red Rock Coulee site map (Government of Alberta)
Red Rock Coulee site map (Government of Alberta)


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 – Information & Facilities – Red Rock Coulee Natural Area | Alberta Parks (2022-02-18).

  1. Red Rock Coulee – Wikipedia.
  2. Dodging Snakes at Red Rock Coulee | Calgary Herald.
  3. Coulee – Wikipedia.

Further Reading

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