The Grotto Canyon Trail is a very popular hike in Bow Valley Provincial Park. The trailhead is approximately 85km west of Calgary along Highway 1A. The trail to the waterfall is only 4km round-trip and the elevation gain is about 50m. The trail leads up a creek bed into a narrow canyon. When you reach the end of the canyon, turn right and you'll find the waterfall. If you follow the canyon to the left the trail opens into a wide valley where you can find a small cave, as well as some hoodoos. We chose the left option after seeing the waterfall, which added some time and distance to our hike, but not a lot.
|Tiger Lilies growing along the trail to the canyon|
|Chistine beside the striped walls of the canyon|
|One of the hoodoos that can be found in the valley beyond the canyon|
|A small cave with nothing inside it|
|The canyon walls on our way back through|
One of the neatest things about this hike is the rock art. There's a collection of First Nation pictographs on the cave walls. Unfortunately most of them have been damaged by weather, time, and people touching them. The oils on our skin will destroy the pictographs. Our natural oils are also the reason why, in the pictures below, the area of the rock where the pictographs are located looks glossy or waxy.
These pictographs are between 500 and 1,300 years old. They were created by the Hopi people, who visited the area from their home region in present-day Arizona. These pictographs are also thought to be connected to the ones found at Grassi Lakes near Canmore (see my Grassi Lakes post). Hopi is the shortened form of Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, or "The Peaceful People". The pictographs found here are of both people and animals. There is also one of the flute player, known as Kokopelli, which is the symbol of the Hopi people. It is said that the Kokapelli is the symbol of the traveler, as well as, fertility.
|Anthromorph figures standing in a line|
|The small figure on the left that appears to be bending over is the flute player or Kokopelli|
|Another anthromoph figure standing above a line of animals|
|A horned animal, possibly a bison|
You can read more about the pictograph sites I have visited by visiting my Western Canadian Rock Art section on the Bradshaw Foundation's webpage.