Grande Cache is a hamlet within the Rocky Mountains surrounded by three river valleys. We sat down with Jenny Daubert, Tourism supervisor for the Municipality of Greenview, to ask her about the region and things to do around the hamlet.
Tell us a little about the hamlet.
Welcome to Grande Cache! Grande Cache is such a unique place because of its geography. It’s surrounded by 21 different mountain peaks. It is located directly in the middle of Grande Prairie and Hinton, which makes it isolated but still accessible to your main amenities.
We have three wonderful waterfalls located very nearby. There’s hiking, quadding, wonderful camping, trailheads, kayaking, fishing and much more. There’s just so much to do in Grande Cache if you enjoy the outdoors. It’s fantastic.
We are the home to the Canadian Death Race, which is a 125 kilometre foot race. This year we had quite a few runners, and a gentleman from Edmonton actually won the race.
Are you from the area?
My family and I moved here five years ago from Calgary. We absolutely love Grande Cache. My children are school age and they have made lots of friends. They enjoy the area, and the many things to do. We love the outdoors and Grande Cache offers so much for our family.
It’s quite different from Calgary. What differences immediately jumped out at you when you moved?
Coming from the city, we were not used to some of the things that come with living in a mountain town. We have bears that are frequent in the hamlet. It’s nice to see as long as they’re not getting into any trouble. We do have lots of deer, too. A lot of the local fauna and flora. It’s just beautiful. It’s natural. It’s extremely quiet and peaceful so it’s nice living so close to nature.
What’s the weather like here? Is there a lot to do in the winter months?
The weather in Grande Cache varies wildly, but we do have a lot of Chinooks so we do get some milder winters. There might be one week where we get a bunch of snow and then the following week we could get a Chinook wind that warms everything up and melts everything around town. We do have a lot of sunny days.
This year has been a lot of rain, an unusual amount of rain, but it’s been fantastic. So the winter seems to be a little bit longer of a season. The days are shorter. However, there are a lot of activities to do such as snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
If you pair the winter with some of the activities, it doesn’t seem so long. We do enjoy taking the kids out to ice fish, and we build the most amazing snowmen around here with all the snow we get.
Summers are temperate. They’re decent, comparable to the rest of Alberta. We get in the mid twenties and the beach days are great, so the weather is very, very comparable to other areas.
Springtime is great in Grande Cache because you see all of the budding trees and all of the natural fauna and flora that is starting to come to life again. We do have a lot of sightings of baby deer and fawns with their spots, which is very nice to see; and sometimes you can even see a mama bear with her cubs. So spring is just a rebirth for the region. Everything starts to come to life and it’s kind of a magical time here in Grande Cache.
The fall is unique here in Grande Cache because of the changing colours on the mountainsides. The trees are changing, the leaves are changing colour. You have the most amazing colours on the sides of the mountain ridges, which are different and unique every year and it is just breathtaking. So the fall is definitely one of our favourite seasons around here because of all the colours and it’s definitely a great season to come and check out the region.
You mentioned bears and deer. Do you see a lot of wildlife coming through the hamlet?
We have a lot of wildlife around Grande Cache and some of the wildlife that we particularly like to see is the many deer that roam around town. If we’re lucky, we get to see a bear, a grizzly or a black bear, from far enough of a distance to enjoy their presence but not get in their way.
We have also seen foxes and owls right in the main streets. We’ve got a ton of different wildlife. A lot of them don’t come into the hamlet very often, but if you’re one of the lucky few you get to see a variety.
We do have a protected site around the hamlet to protect the caribou and their population down by the Big Berland. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you will be able to see some of their herd migrating either in the springtime or the fall. It’s great to see that all of the conservative efforts are working because the herd is definitely growing in numbers.
What activities would you recommend to families coming to Grande Cache?
There are lots of great activities here. As a visitor coming to Grande Cache, one would be the Labyrinth Park, first and foremost. It’s a wonderful outdoor meditation park with great views. It makes for excellent photo opportunities. The kids enjoy going around the labyrinth and at the centre of it you can holler and it sounds like a hollow echo.
We also love the recreation centre here. It’s a great facility. It had a new addition just recently and it’s got a top of the line pool facility with a wave pool, wonderful slide, and diving boards. It’s a great place to take the kids. There’s also the curling rink which is located in the rec centre as well, and it’s got a hockey rink for the winter season. It’s just an all around great facility, and it’s a great place to visit on a rainy day.
We have a wonderful outdoor spray park. My children would probably vote that as one of their favourite pastimes in the area. There are a lot of great parks and a lot of green spaces too. There’s a lot to do.
As someone who moved to Grande Cache rather than growing up here, do you have any advice for new residents in the area?
The number one piece of advice I would give to any new residents here in Grande Cache would be to embrace nature.
Due to our proximity to the city, it’s definitely worthwhile to make sure that you have a list of things to grab when you’re there. Our shops here in the hamlet are amazing and our local businesses are great. However, if you are looking for specific items, you may only be able to find them in the nearest city, which would be Grande Prairie or Hinton.
That sounds like some good advice for visitors, too.
Yes. If you’re coming to Grande Cache to do some local activities, definitely make sure that you’re coming prepared as we don’t have a sporting goods store here. Do make sure that you’re bringing all the equipment necessary for the activity of your choice.
If you’re coming to Grande Cache and experiencing the hamlet and the surrounding areas, I would suggest just making sure that you have proper bear spray, or perhaps bear bells with you; they’re not so much needed in town, but you’ll want it when you’re traveling the local trails in and around. Being in bear country we do definitely suggest to be prepared. Travel with larger groups of people and make sure that you’re making lots of noise so the animals and wildlife are aware of your presence.
We do have locations that sell bear spray and bear bangers. The Tourism and Interpretive Center and Home Hardware carry those products, but do make sure that you’re bringing good hiking shoes and the equipment necessary for your activity.
Do you have any other advice for visitors? Things to be aware of and places to see?
The best thing to do is go to the Tourism and Interpretive Center first and talk to the people there. They have a lot of information. They can give you a lot of insight as to where to go for your specific needs.
Before heading out and exploring, I would definitely make sure that you are in a parking spot that’s appropriate. If it’s a day use area, make sure that you’re holding to that. There are specific places for overnight camping, so make sure that if you are bringing your truck and trailer that you are in an appropriate area, and not parking in the day use area.
The Grande Cache Tourism and Interpretive Center does offer larger vehicle parking, however, they don’t offer overnight parking, so just make sure you’re inquiring beforehand where you can go to accommodate your specific needs. There’s a lot of places where you can pull off site and park for the evening, but again, just make sure that you’re aware of which places you are allowed to do that.
If you’re coming in as a visitor and want to experience Grande Cache as a local, there are trailheads that locals love to go on.
As much as visitors love Sulphur Gates, the locals also love going there. It’s a breathtaking area that has four lookout decks. You can go and see where the Smokey and the Sulphur River meet. It’s absolutely breathtaking; and it’s only about 20 minutes of your time. It’s definitely available for everyone and the trail is very well groomed.
If you’re looking for an experience that a local might try to keep as a hidden gem, I would suggest that you go up Grande Mountain. You can see everything, from the townsite to the mine. Grande Mountain is great, just make sure that you have your hat securely on because it gets pretty windy up there.
There are a lot of trails near Grande Cache, both for hiking and mountain biking. Tell us a bit about those.
We have a program called Passport to the Peaks. It is a trail guide to take you to each of the top of the 21 peaks in and around the hamlet. It is a binder booklet that you can purchase at the tourism and interpretive center.
The bronze section starts with the easier, closer-to-town hiking trails and the peaks that directly surround town.
As you get into the silver and gold level hiking, it is farther away from town so they are a little bit more advanced trails. You’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared for those, and that you are familiar with hiking in the wilderness.
The gold trails in the Passport to the Peaks program are definitely not for the faint of heart. They are geared towards more experienced hikers, but if you do go through the bronze and silver, that should give you enough experience to definitely try the gold trails. So there’s something for all experience levels in that. We have several people that enjoy the program, and several who have finished the program altogether; from what I hear, it is a great experience.
And if you manage to complete all the trails, you get a plaque with your name on it at the tourism centre, so definitely some bragging rights and just something to cross off your bucket list. It’s fantastic.
What activities are suitable for families and children?
As a family with young children myself, for families coming into Grande Cache, I would definitely recommend going over to Grande Cache Lake. There’s a nice beach area, a public use area. We’ve got a playground available as well as a dock. The kids love to get in the water and if you have a dog as well, bring your dog. It’s a great family friendly area.
What makes for a perfect day, here in Grande Cache?
The perfect day for me in and around Grande Cache would be just a day that has blue skies, it’s clear, and you can just really take in the beauty of the area. It doesn’t matter where you are in the hamlet, you just have to look around and there is beauty everywhere and that’s my favourite part about Grande Cache.
The perfect day for my family would be to pack a picnic, go out to Grande Cache Lake or to Sulphur Gates, and spend the day surrounded by nature. enjoying each other’s company. That would be my perfect day.
Does Grande Cache have a lot of restaurants and eateries?
Grande Cache has a lot of great eateries. We have some very talented chefs in the area.
One of the best places to go is definitely The Ridge. Bea is fantastic. She puts a lot of her heart and soul into her food. And I would have to say Aurora Sushi. We’re very lucky to have such a great authentic Japanese restaurant here in town. If you like sushi, Aurora Sushi is definitely the place to go.
And If you’re looking to have an alcoholic beverage in Grande Cache, I would definitely suggest going to Vegas. Vegas is a great sports bar. It has a great atmosphere, friendly staff and definitely a comfy place to go and enjoy a drink with your friends.
Tell us a little about the history of Grande Cache.
My favourite historical story about Grande Cache is from the few residents that still remain from 1969 when Grande Cache was created.
Listening to their first experience coming into Grande Cache as a young family is interesting. The average resident was in their early twenties, most of them coming when the mine started and just seeing how they came from different places around the world and making this community what it is today.
Their stories involve them coming together and building each other’s houses and the roads. It’s just a totally different way of life and it’s definitely interesting to hear how they overcame those hardships and those hurdles to create the hamlet that we know today as Grande Cache.
Do you find people who have never visited Grande Cache have any misconceptions about the area?
One misconception about Grande Cache that I would like to clear up is the highway. Highway 40 has a stigma, but it’s getting worked on, and it is getting better and better every year. It definitely is worth traveling. It is a very scenic route. If you travel the speed limit and watch out for wildlife, I guarantee that you will have a beautiful drive
Another misconception is that there is nothing to do here in Grande Cache. Grande Cache has so much to offer if you are looking to be surrounded by the beauty of a Jasper or Banff area without the high tourist activity. Grande Cache definitely is a place that I would suggest any Albertan, and anybody in general, to come to and just check it out for themselves and make their own conclusion.