Area Overview

Rich in diversity, the MD of Bighorn is located on the eastern slopes of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. The MD’s eastern boundary is approximately 31 kilometres west of Calgary. The MD of Bighorn is bordered to the east by the MD of Rocky View and Mountain View County, to the south by Kananaskis Improvement District, to the west by the Town of Canmore and Banff National Park and to the north by Clearwater County. The MD is a large rural municipality covering approximately 2,664 square kilometers (1029 square miles).

The MD encompasses residential, recreational, agricultural and natural lands within its boundaries. Natural resource extraction and processing industries, hydropower generation and urban development areas are characteristic of the southwestern mountain areas. Agricultural activities, forestry, oil and gas developments and recreational ranches are characteristic of the foothills portion of the municipality. For general planning purposes, the municipality is divided into two parts, the Bow Corridor and the Ranchland areas.

Bow Corridor

The Hamlets of Harvie Heights, Dead Man’s Flats, Lac des Arcs and Exshaw, as well as the settlement of Kananaskis, are located in the Bow Valley. The area is dominated by the Bow River and contains major east-west transportation utility corridors. These include the Trans-Canada Highway and CP Rail mainline, as well as natural gas and power lines. Significant high quality limestone, shale and sandstone formations are quarried and processed into cement and lime products. Magnesite is also processed in the Bow Corridor. These products are important regionally and nationally. Additionally, there are significant hydropower generation facilities, operated by TransAlta.

The Bow Corridor watershed is a key location for fish spawning, bird migration, wildlife habitat and movement corridors for many species found in the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains. The area serves as a link between Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park.

The area is not only attractive as the gateway to major recreational and tourist destinations, but is rich in resources demanded throughout Canada and other parts of the world.


The Ranchlands consist principally of open ranching and grazing land, and heavily forested terrain. It also contains significant natural gas reserves, and associated gathering and processing facilities as well as a few guest ranches. Benchlands is the only Hamlet in the Ranchlands area.

The quality of life of our residents is tied to a healthy, rural, natural environment and a robust economy.

Quick Facts
  • Population – 1,454 (2006 Federal Census revised 2008)
  • Location – east municipal boundary is approximately 31 kilometres west of the city of Calgary and is bordered by Banff National Park on the west
  • Lifestyle – High quality rural lifestlye directly related to our beautiful environment
  • Economy – Natrual resource extraction and processing, hydro electric energy generation, forestry,agriculture and low impact tourism
  • Easy access to local, regional, national and international markets

Government of Alberta – Regional Dashboard – (Helps answer your questions about living, working, investing and doing business in Albertas diverse regions)

2011 CensusPopulationPrivate dwellings
Occupied by
usual residents
Private dwellings - Other
(unoccupied & occupied
by foreign or
temporary residents
Total Private Dwellilngs
Bighorn No. 8
- Totals

Dead Man's Flats121522375
Harvie Heights1756949118
Lac Des Arcs1446447111
Rural Area49718965254