Goose Mountain Ecological Reserve

Just northwest of the Town of Swan Hills lies the Goose Mountain Ecological Reserve — home to 16 plant species rare to the province of Alberta, including orchids.

The reason for this pocket of rare flora has to do with Swan Hills’ elevation. Being the highest point in the province at 1180m above sea level allows for the development of a sub-alpine ecosystem not found anywhere else on the prairies.

As an ecological reserve, the 5,780 hectare area is protected from motor vehicle traffic, sample gathering, expeditions, and any other activity that would disturb the plant life. However, it is open to hikers, photographers, and those who enjoy a non-intrusive and non-destructive natural experience.

The Goose Tower Road is a privately owned oilfield road that is subject to weather. The main soil base is clay shale with moisture that quickly turns into greasy mud. It is recommended that if you plan on visiting the Reserve that you use a four wheel-drive vehicle, monitor the weather, and ensure that someone knows your plans. The weather changes quickly and drastically in this area and the roads quickly become impassable.

Angerlia Genuflexa
Angelica Genuflexa (Kneeling Angelica)

6 locations in Alberta

Carex deflexa
Carex Deflexa (Bent Sedge)

3 locations in Alberta

Carex loliacea
Carex Loliacea (Ryegrass Sedge)

3 locations in Alberta

Carex Trisperma (Three Seeded Sedge)

3 locations in Alberta

Coptis Trifolia (Gold Thread)

8 locations in Alberta

Cystopteris Montana (Mountain Bladder Fern)

6 locations in Alberta

Dryopteris Phegopteris (Northern Beech Fern)

The Swan Hills is one of the two known locations east of the Rocky Mountains.

epilobium leptocarpum
Epilobium Leptoca (Slender Fruited Willow Herb)

4 locations in Alberta

Gulium Palustre (Bedstraw)

Very rare in Alberta, 2 known locations are Swan Hills and Jasper National Park.

Lycopodium Selago
Lycopodium Selago (Rock Club Moss)

Located only in the Rocky Mountains, the extreme east corner of Alberta and Swan Hills.

Oploponax Horridum (Devilsclub)

7 locations in Alberta

Pohlia Proligera (Pohlia Moss)

Swan Hills is the only known location in Alberta.

Ranunculus Uncinatus (Hairy Buttercup)


8 locations in Alberta

Sphagnum Majus
Sphagnum Majus (Peat Moss)


Only other known location in Alberta is Wood Buffalo National Park.

Tiarella_trifoliata_False Mitrewort
Tiarella Trifoliata (False Mitrework)

This plant is rare in Alberta. Found only in Swan Hills and west of Whitecourt.

Tiarella Trifoliate (Lace Flower)

6 locations in Alberta