Cookhouse

Situated in the heart of the historic ranch headquarters, the "belly of the Bar U” was at the centre of operations. This is where cowboys ate, slept and relaxed. It was a first stop for ranch visitors, where a meal and a cup of coffee was always waiting.

Discover the cookhouse as it was in the last decade of corporate operation. It was the first time a woman was in charge of the day-to-day in the cookhouse.

Visit the kitchen and sample the wood-fired baking, prepared by an interpreter. Head upstairs to explore the ranch employees sleeping quarters.

Don’t forget to visit the nearby garden, storehouses and the root cellar and explore how food was produced and preserved before modern-day refrigeration.

A group of visitors watch an interpreter take a hot pie out of a stove
The “belly of the Bar U” historic cookhouse was vital to the ranch’s daily operations.

Historic ranch buildings

The Bar U has the largest collection of historical ranch buildings in Canada and many of them are still operational.

Watch the blacksmith prepare horseshoes or the saddle-maker repair a rein; pop into the stables, the post office and of course the cookhouse and smell fresh baking. As you visit, you'll hear the stories of the men and the women who made the Bar U famous.

The chop house, one of the historic buildings at Bar U Ranch
The Bar U Ranch has the largest collection of historical ranch buildings in Canada

Visit our livestock

When the great bison herds faded into memory, ranches like the Bar U were able to use the native rough fescue grass to sustain herds of cattle, and the horses needed to handle them. The Bar U Ranch became a self-sustaining community and the amount of livestock grew.

Today at the Bar U Ranch, connect with and learn about a variety of animals.

Visit the teams of Percheron horses that provide the daily wagon ride, or take a walk along the Pekisko Creek trail and to see cows, their calves, and maybe even a bison!

Drop by the dairy barn to experience the heart of the milk operation. Keep your eyes out for other animals like chickens, pigs and turkeys throughout the site.

An interpreter rides a horse on site at the Bar U Ranch
Ike, one of the Bar U Ranch saddlehorses

Meet our interpreters

Hear about the characters that made this ranch famous: the ranchers, poets, politicians, royalty and even outlaws including the infamous Sundance Kid.

Meet the people of the west: cowboys, saddle-makers, blacksmiths and camp cooks. Hear cowboy poetry, songs and legends around the campfire.

An interpreter shows two girls how to make crafts in the leather shop
The Bar U Ranch interprets a time when the west was young

Order a perfect picnic

Stop by the Bar U Ranch Café and order from our picnic menu before exploring the site.

Choose from a delicious variety of sandwiches, sides and sweets. Pick up your prepared meal from the Cookhouse and head to one of our scenic picnic locations scattered throughout the site.

Seek out the shade of the cottonwoods along the banks of Pekisko Creek, or look out over the historic ranch site from near the Visitor Centre.

Discover new areas of Bar U for your picnic

Percheron wagon ride

The Bar U Ranch was renowned as the world’s largest Percheron breeding in the early 1900s. The Bar U has seven Percheron horses: Licorice, Smudge, Daisy, Dolly, Poca, Terra and Hawkeye.

Meet us at Roundup Camp for an introduction to these magnificent creatures. Wagon rides travel two different routes, lasting 30 minutes each. Get a personal introduction to these magnificent creatures - the "gentle giants of ranching" - by taking a horse-drawn wagon ride and hearing the stories of George Lane and his amazing herd of Percheron draft horses.

An interpreter rides a horse on site at the Bar U Ranch
Percheron horses are the “gentle giants of ranching”
Wagon ride schedule
 
  • Wagon ride schedule

  • 11:00 a.m. – Riparian zone
  • 11:40 a.m. – West historic core
  • 1:00 p.m. – Riparian zone
  • 1:40 p.m. – West historic core
  • 2:40 p.m. – Riparian zone
  • 3:20 p.m. – West historic core
  • Rides operate daily and are free with admission.

Rhythm of the land

Experience the pulse of the Bar U community, from spring’s rebirth to the gathering of the harvest.

The land along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains establishes a rhythm for those who call it home, and you can experience it all season long at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site.

Threshing season at the Bar U Ranch

Spring

In the spring, smell the fresh regrowth of the native grass and see the new calves frolicking under their mother's gaze. Try your hand at traditional skills by applying a hot iron livestock brand to a board you can take home; or twirling a rope to send a loop unerringly over a steer’s horns. Hear the footfalls of the teams of heavy horses and the gentle clink of machinery as this year’s cereal crop is planted.

Summer

In summertime, you can check on the progress of the calves as they bask with their mothers along Pekisko Creek in the welcome shade of the cottonwood trees. Listen to the whir of a horse-drawn knife as the hay crop is cut and look for your chance to “pitch in” with a fork to help put up this year’s feed. In the waning days of summer, the horses are back in the field cutting the cereal crop in anticipation of harvest. Bring your gloves, the grain needs to be stacked in stooks!

Fall

The crisp, clear days of autumn are a time of celebration. Shake the soil from a vegetable garden selection to experience the taste of fresh. Savour the aroma of fresh baking from a wood fired cook stove. Whet your appetite by strolling around the field and maybe even helping build a load on the horse-drawn bundle racks as they deliver the golden harvest to a belt-driven harvester.

Soon, the land will slip back into its winter slumber.

Roping

Pick up the basics of a cowboy’s number one skill - roping. Learn to cast a rope loop over a replica steer's horn with some simple instructions, then challenge your friends.

Caution - it's addictive! You’ll want to take a lariat home with you.

A young visitor tries her hand at roping while watched by an interpreter
Try your hand at roping a replica steer

Roundup Camp

Take a walk over the Pekisko Creek bridge and into the shade of the cottonwood trees. Head back in time to the days before ranching operations built fences, a time when a chuckwagon was home on the range.

Explore how cowboys lived and worked away from the ranch headquarters for months at a time.

Sip on fresh-brewed cowboy coffee as the smoke from the campfire curls lazily into the air. Listen as hsitoric interpreters tell the tales of ranching in the Canadian west.

An interpreter pours some cowboy coffee for two visitors at Roundup Camp
Try some cowboy coffee at Roundup camp

Stoney Nakoda Camp

Nestled along the banks of Pekisko Creek, explore the Stoney Nakoda encampment. Step inside the camp’s tipi and hear Indigenous interpreters share traditional stories. Discover the important contributions of Indigenous peoples to the area and the ranching industry in western Canada.

Bar U Ranch lies within traditional Indigenous territory. The lands and waters have been used since time immemorial by Indigenous communities for sustenance, ceremony, trade and travel.

Indigenous peoples were vital to ranch operations

Walking trails

The Bar U Ranch has marked walking trails for you to wander and explore.

The Viewpoint Trail starts in front of the Visitor Centre and follows a ridge past a picnic area and ends high above Pekisko Creek, with views of the prairies to the east and Rocky Mountains to the west. It merges in to our brand new Pekisko Creek trail, 3.2 kilometres that you can hike or bike to discover the Bar U rangelands.

The Riparian Trail starts near Roundup Camp and follows a loop through old cottonwood stands by Pekisko Creek. It circles around our Stoney Nakoda Camp and makes its way back to Roundup Camp and ends overlooking the creek where you will find two of our Red Chairs.

Two red chairs next to one of the walking trails at Bar U Ranch
Red chairs along the Viewpoint Trail