Holmes Crossing Natural Area is located about 4 kilometres southwest of Fort Assiniboine and borders the south bank of the Athabasca River. Its rolling landscape of stabilized sand dunes and wet depressions, along with the Athabasca River valley make this a diverse and interesting site.
Jack pine and Aspen are the major trees species. They grow in pure stands or mixedwood forests on the upland sand dunes. In moister sites along the river valley,
White spruce, Aspen and Balsam Poplar dominate, and most are frequently part of mixedwood forests. A variety of
wetlands occur in the depressions between the sand dunes. Willow
shrubland, Black Spruce and Tamarack
peatland, sedge wetland and shallow ponds are all present.
Wildlife is abundant. Deer and Moose use the river valley extensively. The undulating dune landscape provides
ungulates with food and shelter, while the wetlands and ponds are particularly favoured by
Moose. Black Bear, Snowshoe Hare, Red Squirrel and Beaver are
also common. Bird species are numerous and in the pine forests are
Common Nighthawk, Solitary Vireo, Pine Siskin and Purple Finch.
Holmes Crossing Natural Area is enjoyed by many visitors in all seasons. Activities include nature hikes, berry picking, picnicking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, canoeing, gold-panning, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The fragile soils and vegetation of this site are very easily damaged and restrictions have been placed on where people may camp and where off-highway vehicles may be used.
Explore Holmes Crossing Natural Area, but please ensure that your activities do not diminish the beauty of the site.
Reprinted with permission from "Alberta's Natural Areas" (1991) with permission from Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife.