Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump / Estipah-skikikini-kots
Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump/Estipahskikikini-kots is a World Heritage Site known for it's importance to the Blackfoot and Indigenous cultural practices and people.
A visit to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Estipah-skikikini-kots in the Blackfoot Language, is your best opportunity to experience this incredibly important historical, cultural and archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lethbridge, with its range of hotels and dining options, is the best hub to explore Head-Smashed-in and other World Heritage Sites in Southern Alberta.
The migrations of the the buffalo herds were integral to the indigenous peoples of the western plains and this site was in use for over 6,000 up to European contact.
Using their skill and their astonishing knowledge of bison biology and behaviour, bands of hunters drove great herds of buffalo over steep cliffs and into wooden corrals. In the blink of an eye they obtained more food in a single moment than any other people in human history.
From Imagining Head-Smashed-In, by Jack Brink (former site archaeologist at Head-Smashed-In).
Visiting Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Visiting Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is easy and worth the short drive west of Highway 2. For opening hours, admission fees and more up-to-date information, click the yellow button below.
Located on Secondary Highway 785 — accessed via Highway 2 just north of Fort Macleod
Check local weather — the facility closes for severe weather
Plan on 2–4 hours at the site so you can best enjoy the Museum, outdoor trails and amenities.
Parking for cars and RVs
Overnight parking is not allowed
Inside the Interpretive Centre
The Head-Smashed-In Visitor Information centre is a stunning museum filled with vibrant and culturally accurate displays of more than 6000 years of plains people hunting culture.
While the site was designated a National Historic Site in 1968 and a World Heritage Site in 1981, it wasn't until 1987 that the museum and interpretive centre was ready. In 1990, the building received the 1990 Governor General's award for Architecture.
80-seat theatre displaying a 15-minute film-re-enactment of the buffalo hunt
5 levels of interactive and visual displays.
Guided School and Youth Programs
Buffalo Jump Café
Closed for the Summer 2022 season, the Café will reopen in the summer season of 2023. When it reopens, however, you can expect a wide variety of drinks, desserts and other food. Stop for a snack while enjoying the museum or grab some caffeine before heading out on the trails.
Napi’s Creations Gift Shop
At “Napi’s Creations” Gift Shop, you can grab yourself or a loved one a souvenir to remember your time at the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. There’s something for everyone in the shop with T-shirts and other merchandise that will remind them of the bountiful and beautiful culture they experienced while at Head-Smashed-In.
Outside the Centre
After exploring the museum, you will find yourself at the top of the building, where you can take just a short walk outside to a deck. The is point looks out across the flat rolling plains of the prairies and the cliff of the Buffalo Jump, giving a sense of size and perspective for one's place in the natural world. The size of the Buffalo Jump is about half the size it used to be, which gives you a small idea of the scale of the buffalo hunt during its prime.
The Head-Smashed-In Site is also home to two hiking trails, one 200m and one 1.2Km in length. The first trail measuring 200M, is an upper trail that follows along the upper edge of the jump. In contrast, the 1.2Km trail will take you near the bottom of the jump and up and around the whole Cliffside, with places to pause and take in the sounds of rustling grass, whistling winds, and the grandeur of the jump.