A few weeks ago on a hot summer’s day a friend and I drove south out of Calgary to a natural oasis just beyond the city limits. The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area is 4,800 acres of protected aspen forest, pastures of introduced grasslands, and native prairie. Sandy Cross, son of one of the Calgary Stampede’s “Big Four”, A.E. Cross, along with his wife Ann donated the land to the Province of Alberta in 1987 with the stipulation that the land never be developed.
The land is protected and carefully managed to allow native plant and animal species to flourish. As my friend and I hiked under the hot sun, up and down rolling hills and through stands of aspen we spotted dozens of wildflowers. While we didn’t see any deer we found lots of areas where they had obviously bedded down. We also didn’t see another living soul on our entire 3 to 4 hour hike. It was blissful.
I highly recommend you make the short trek out to the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area. Bring a picnic lunch, and definitely bring your camera. Before setting out, make sure you register your visit online, as they request. They also have a variety of fall programs you can sign up for, which give you a guided look at the land, its history and its inhabitants. Check out Paradise preserved : the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area by Bruce Masterman for some beautiful pictures and more information on this conservation success story.