Grassland & Parkland Natural Regions

The Grassland and Parkland Natural Regions are two of six Natural Regions found in Alberta. The Natural Regions are defined geographically on the basis of landscape patterns, notably vegetation, soils and physiographic features.

The Grassland Natural Region comprises approximately 30 million acres (14%) of Alberta, extending west to the Rocky Mountains and north to the southern edge of the Parkland Natural Region in central Alberta. The region is a flat-to-gently rolling plain with a few major hill systems. Most of the bedrock is covered with glacial till deposits. Some areas are blanketed by glacial lake sediments, sand dune fields and outwash plains. Badlands have developed where river valleys and their associated coulees and ravines are carved deeply into bedrock, especially along the Red Deer, South Saskatchewan and Milk rivers. The Milk River drainage contains the only exposures of igneous bedrock in the grasslands of western Canada. All other bedrock exposures are of sedimentary rocks.

Alberta's grasslands are part of the Great Plains that stretch from the Gulf of Mexico, through the United States and into Canada's prairie provinces.

There are four Natural Subregions within the Grassland Natural Region, each distinguished by differences in climate, soils and vegetation: Dry Mixedgrass, Mixedgrass, Northern Fescue, and Foothills Fescue.

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Source: Natural Regions Committee 2006. Natural Regions and Subregions of Alberta. Compiled by D.J. Downing and W.W. Pettapiece. Government of Alberta. Pub. No. T/852.

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