What is a Texas Gate — and Why Are They in Canada in National Parks?

W hile visiting the national parks of Banff, Jasper and Yoho in Canada, I frequently came across yellow diamond signs with the words Texas gate written on them — especially near the exits of limited access highways…

What is a Texas Gate — and Why Are They in Canada in National Parks?

…so what exactly is a Texas gate; and why are they in national parks in Canada?

Texas gates are actually found around the world and are also known by such names as cattle guards, cattle stops, stock grids, stock gaps or vehicle passes.

Texas Gate

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The warning sign is to alert motorists of the rough rumble of driving over a transverse grid of metal bars or tubes — such as the ones seen in the photograph above — which are embedded above a depression in the pavement of the roadway and permanently fixed to the ground on either side. The gaps between the bars are wide enough for the feet of an animal — such as horses, mules, cattle, elks, caribou, moose or deer — to enter through the bars into the depression and cause them to be reluctant to continue through the Texas gate; but not too wide that the wheels of a vehicle cannot negotiate it.

Texas gates are part of a system of barriers which prevent animals from entering the roadway — and exposing themselves to potential harm or death. In Banff National Park, for example, each side of Trans-Canada Highway 1 is fenced for miles. Several overpasses with trees and other flora were constructed over Trans-Canada Highway 1 specifically for animals to be able to safely cross from one side of the highway to the other. Texas gates help to complete the barriers where the fences and overpasses would not be effective because vehicles would otherwise not have access to roadways within the park.

Texas Gate

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The depression in the roadway is actually a channel which resembles a means to control water; so it could be mistaken as a device meant for flood control — but as can be seen in the photograph above, there is a wire mesh fence attached to either side of the Texas gate to prevent animals from penetrating the barrier. The other side of the wire mesh is attached to the permanent fencing of the barrier.


I had never heard of the term Texas gate — nor seen a sign specifically warning of one — until I visited Banff National Park. They are supposedly quite effective but not completely foolproof, as an occasional imaginative animal can find its way past one.

All I know is that I saw no caribou while driving on Icefields Parkway — despite signs alerting motorists of a crossing for caribou for 20 kilometers and no sign of fencing or Texas gates for miles — and that was disappointing, as caribou was one of the animals which I never did see in the wild while I visited the national parks in Alberta and British Columbia…

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “What is a Texas Gate — and Why Are They in Canada in National Parks?”

  1. DaninMCI says:

    Silly Canadians. It’s a cattle guard. Well that and any boarding gate at a Texas airport (Except hipster Austin).

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