Red Rock Coulee – Orion, Alberta - Atlas Obscura

Red Rock Coulee

Orion, Alberta

Huge spherical rocks in the middle of the prairie.  


Dotting the pristine prairie hills of Southern Alberta, these large and exceptionally spherical red rocks make it feel as though you’re standing on Mars. Some of the fiery-hued boulders are over 8 feet across (2.5 meters), putting them among the largest sandstone concretions in the world.

This geological oddity can be a little tricky to get to, just enough off the beaten path to keep the area remarkably quiet, only adding to the otherworldly feel. Red Rock Coulee is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of the city of Medicine Hat, and although it’s not really on your way to anywhere, this detour or day trip is an interesting sight.

You can climb the large rocks and marvel at the mystery of their formation. One of the spheres is split clean in half, showing off its strange shape. The concretions have eroded out of the soft bedrock that blankets the area, and turned red from iron oxide. If you’re in luck you can study the unique quartz crystals you can find in the area, while taking in the beautiful sunrise or sunset over the colorful badlands landscape. 

Know Before You Go

This place is a little tricky to get to. Refer to Alberta Parks for a detailed map. The road is paved halfway, then turns to gravel. From Medicine Hat go south on Hwy 3 to Seven Persons. Turn south on Hwy 887/Township Rd 87 for a few kilometers, then right before the road curves go straight onto the dirt road and continue until you see the Alberta Park signage. There are no facilities on site.

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December 18, 2017

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