Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, Saskatchewan
Renowned as a nocturnal preserve and a stargazer’s paradise, Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB), located in southwestern Saskatchewan, has its charms even in the broad daylight. Stretching as far as the eye can see are rolling plains of native grasses on some 13,088 acres (5,297 hectares) of Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)-protected land. Genetically pure plains bison have been reintroduced to the ranch since 2003 to graze the land as they have historically.
Visitors have a chance to set foot on mixed prairie grasslands that are rapidly disappearing in other parts of Saskatchewan due to conversion to croplands and settlement. Old Man on His Back will not disappoint any travellers wishing get a taste of the Great Plains of Saskatchewan.
Trail length: There are no defined trails at OMB.
Hike difficulty: Moderate - steep slopes, uneven ground and boggy areas are present at parts of the property
- Interpretive centre with public washrooms
- Public parking lot
Points of interest
- Bison rubbing rocks and wallows
- Dedication rocks (NCC dedication plaque rock and engraved Peter Butala dedication rock)
- Interpretive signage on restoration projects at OMB
- Teepee rings, cairns and medicine wheel
- Historic farm machinery and buildings
Species to look out for
- plains bison
- swift fox
- mule deer
- white-tailed deer
- Sprague’s pipit
- burrowing owl
- chestnut-collared longspur
- Travel west on Highway 1 to Gull Lake access road (Hwy 37).
- Travel south on Highway 37 to Hwy 18.
- Turn west on Highway 18 and follow to Claydon.
- At Claydon continue west along gravel road for 15 kms. Don’t continue on Highway 18 past Claydon.
- Follow the gravel road. The OMB Interpretive Centre and parking lot located to the south (on left hand side).
Note: The gravel road west of Claydon gets very slick when wet.
From Medicine Hat:
- Travel east on Hwy 1 to Maple Creek access road (Hwy 21), approximately 97 km from Medicine Hat city centre.
- Travel south on Hwy 21 and follow Hwy 18, approximately 8.5 km.
- Turn east on Hwy 13 and follow to Hwy 18, approximately 6.5 km.
- Turn south on Hwy 18 and follow to the Divide Road, approximately 38 km.
- At Dive Road turn north and follow for approximately 6.5 km.
- Turn east at the corner and continue along the gravel road for approximately 1 km. Look for the OMB Interpretive Centre to the south (right hand side).
Note: Some GPS units will direct you down a gravel road approximately 1.8 km south of Hwy 13. This gravel road quickly turns into a trail that is impassable when wet and requires significant vehicle clearance. Travel on this road is not advised.
The interpretive centre is open weekends from mid-May to end of September. For information on hours of operation, local travel conditions or to arrange a visit during the week, call 306.296.7363.
When visiting the property, please:
- Respect the wildlife and other visitors.
- Drive on main access roads only.
- Explore the property by foot only.
- Stay a safe distance from any livestock on the property. OMB interpreter can direct visitors to areas of the property without livestock.
- Leave all gates as found (OMB is a working ranch).
- Refrain from bringing pets on site.
- Refrain from lighting fires or smoking.
- Remove your own garbage.
- Respect that the property does not permit the removal of any plants or animals.
All visitors to NCC properties do so at their own risk.