Fort Walsh National Historic Site is federally operated through Parks Canada but works in partnership with Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, in which it is located. Truthfully, at first I wasn't overly interested in visiting this interpretive site, but was glad afterwards that I did. For about $7, I learned about the interesting history of not only the Cypress Hills, but also about the natives who lived in the region and the arrival and presence of the Northwestern Mounted Police (now RCMP) at Fort Walsh. Interpreters take visitors through a reconstruction of the fort, telling stories of daily life and hardships of the men who lived there. Visitors also learn why the fort was built, what sorts of activities went on there, and get to participate in a court hearing. There is also an excellent interpretive centre on site that displays exhibits on the unique ecology and geology of the Cypress Hills, more history of Fort Walsh and surrounds, etc. There is a small cafe in the interpretive centre where you can purchase coffee and/or lunch. The tour price includes an interesting video about the whiskey trade and other factors leading to the construction of Fort Walsh.
The drive through the west block and Alberta block of Cypress Hills is really pretty, with lots of bends in the road. At one point the road winds around Reesor Lake, a small, but pretty lake where people were fishing and kayaking. You can have a picnic by the lake or hike part of the Trans Canada Trail to the Reesor Lake Viewpoint, which offers a spectacular view of the lake and surrounding landscape (for which my photo does not do justice). Alternatively, you can contiue driving on the main road around the lake and reach the viewpoint that way. The hike is 4.2 km uphill, so not for those looking for an easy stroll. The trailhead starts at the parking lot for Reesor Lake by the entry to the Reesor Lake Campground. Maps are available at the trailhead for all trails in the Alberta block.
These two scenic lookouts are located between the centre and west blocks in Saskatchewan. The lookout point overlooks miles of prairie. On clear days, you can see the town of Maple Creek and possibly the Sandhills. If you're driving on the gap road between the two blocks, make sure to stop here on the way. Otherwise, these viewpoints can be accessed from the centre block by the Bald Butte Trail which splits from the gap road just by the golf course.
The restaurant in the inn has a nice ambiance - wood trim, large windows overlooking the forest, artwork depicting Cypress Hills and prairie scenes. The lunch options were fairly simple, but presentation and quality were good. If you need a change from smokies over the campfire, a stop here might be worth it.
Favorite Dish: The steak sandwich was very nice. The steak was cooked the way I asked.
Grocery stores are in Elkwater Townsite and in the Centre Block - Saskatchewan (just past the entry kiosk). Here you will find pretty much anything you may have forgotten for your camping experience, including food, drinks, ice, newspaper for firestarter, lighters, clothing, sunblock, bug spray, etc. Also available are reading material, gifts, souvenirs, p;ostcards, etc.