Alberta Provincial Parks

Last update July 28, 2012

This page consists mostly of reports on Alberta Provincial Parks that our family have camped in or had friends camp in. If you have been in an Alberta park that you especially liked, please email to this mail page. Your report and credit line will be added to this Alberta Provincial Parks page if you wish.

Thanks to all who contributed, most of the reports are included below.

The 'Provincial' is now missing from the names of quite a number of the parks listed on this page as they have been contracted out to private operators. Our mail file on the subject has been growing and some of that material will be available here when time permits.

Alberta may be the only place in the world where there can be a raging forest fire and a major snow storm on the same day.




Some Parks We've Camped In:

Most of these are within easy driving distance of our home in Spruce Grove, Alberta.

Aspen Beach Provincial Park

On Gull Lake, west of highway 2 south of Edmonton.

Gull lake has a nice sand beach and clear water. There are two campgrounds, Brewers (With the large beach.), and Lakeview with a small beach and showers on the west side of the lake.

Our neighbors have been there and report that quite a number of improvements have been made in the campground. Green Acres Pine Lake currently have the operating contract for Aspen beach and have a web site available.






Beaver Lake Provincial Recreation Area

Beaver Lake is located just South of Lac La Biche in North Eastern Alberta. This campground is on the North side of the North arm of the lake, and used to be the place you went if Sir Winston Churchill was full.

I have fond memories of smoking fish on the Coleman stove smoker of the campers next to us, less fond memories of trying to get the smell out of the tent trailer that we had at the time.

The South arm of the lake is dotted with small islands where you may occasionally spot nesting Bald Eagles. Spruce Point resort, operated by the Beaver Lake Band, is also about half way down the West side of the lake, and boasts a pretty natural setting.

This park is now ran by a private operator. Last visited August, 2002. Coin showers, one loop has power but bring lots of extension cord. The 'campground lady' also makes some pretty awesome garlic pickles.

Fish'N Friends website is here.




Carson Pegasus Provincial Park

Fishing at Carson PegasusCampsite at Carson-Pegasus


Carson Pegasus is situated in the east end of the Swan Hills, northwest of Whitecourt. The little "pot-hole" lake is arguably the best trout lake in Alberta. The excellent campground is one of our favorite spots, but the lake can get very crowded in Summer. Handicapped facilities and a nice, well separated group camping area are available. The right hand picture is a typical unserviced campsite in the park in the Summer of 1995.

Carson Pegasus opened late for the 1998 season due to the huge Virginia Hills forest fire that was in the area.

Our Good Sam club booked the group area in August of 1999 as well as August 2000 and September 2003. Everyone who was there had a great time. Power only sites in the main campground are now $25.00 per night with fire wood included. (August, 2003)




Chain Lakes Provincial Park

Chain Lakes Provincial Park is located in the south eastern slopes region of the Alberta Rockies. The campground is located at the foot of the mountains, the scenery is excellent along with the fishing." ...Norma Campbell




Cold Lake Provincial Park

In north-eastern Alberta, near the Cold Lake Air Base. About 3 hours. from Edmonton.

Cold Lake has large, well separated campsites in Boreal forest on a peninsula. The lake is big, deep, and well named. There is a marina in the nearby town of Cold Lake. Fishing for Lake Trout, Pike , and Perch is popular here. There are also some nice beaches. Showers and some electric hook-ups are available. Good handicapped facilities. You may or may not be impressed by occasional fly-pasts of fighter jets from the base. Our boys thought they were cool!

Visitors to Cold Lake or Lakeland Provincial park can obtain a military "bird' watcher's handbook from the park office for those who are interested.

Last visited in july, 2004. The park is fine but the road to it through Cold Lake is a real spring buster! We also encountered some guy on a Segway coming down one of the park roads.

Link: Cold Lake




Crimson Lake Provincial Park

A very popular spot on the David Thompson Highway west of Rocky Mountain House with a nice beach , lots of trails and campground showers. Fishing for stocked pothole rainbows is available at nearby Twin Lakes.




Cross Lake Provincial Park

Cross lakeCross lake 2


Cross Lake is one of our favorite spots, mainly because it's on the edge of the wilderness and we can be there in a couple of hours. We spent ten days there in spite of the poor weather in 1996 . A herd of Mule Deer frequently visit the campground and you can see all sorts of water birds in the area. A Bald Eagle dived right near our canoe one day, an Osprey the next , and a pair of White Pelicans were also spotted.

The campground has been recently upgraded and now has quite a number of 220v power sites as well as showers and paved trails for the handicapped. The parks staff here are exceptionally helpful, they once even offered to pick up dog food for us if someone was going into town.

Our Parkland Jays club booked the group area in 2003 and had a wonderful time counting satellites around the campfire, hiking to the Osprey's next, doing potluck suppers, etc. The group area is similar to the one at Carson Pegasus. Roy and Janet

2003 update: Schneider's Contracting, the people who formerly ran this park, have left to run another business in B.C. A tough act to follow.




Cypress Hills Provincial Park

The Cypress hills of South-Eastern Alberta rise from the surrounding prairie and contain a diversity of wildlife unique to the region. There are 13 campgrounds with a total of 530 campsites ranging from walk-in tenting to full RV hook-ups. Reservations: 403 893 3777 Monday to Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 P.M. M.D.S.T.. (May 1 to September ?)

"We have stayed at Cypress Hills as well, but we were not impressed with the campsites. We stayed at Ferguson Hill and found it quite crowded (As in close to each other). Perhaps we were spoiled by some of the other campgrounds that I have mentioned!"...Bob MacKinnon

"By the way, we do a lot of camping in Cypress hills, and you are correct about Ferguson hill. We prefer Firerock or Reesor Lake. Campsites are extremely private and they are overall a nice place to camp. Reesor lake has great trout fishing, but they are very small due to over stocking. No power boats allowed. We have attached some pictures of our last camping trip the weekend after May long weekend.
Cheers and thanks
Bear and Sherry"



Reesor Lake Sunset

Bear, Girls, & Scruff picture

Reesor Lake
Bear, Girls, & Scruff
Photo Credit: Bear and Sherry





Garner Lake Provincial Park

A very popular park near Spedden in East-Central Alberta.




Forestry Trunk Road

"The Forestry trunk road from Caroline is the ULTIMATE. Just after you go over the Corkscrew mountain(Lots of curves!) you reach the Seven Mile Flats campsite. We spent two days of solitude there before we went to Crescent Falls, just west of Nordegg. This is God's country! Clear waters, well maintained Provincial campsites that cost a grand total of nine dollars a night, very peaceful places.
Ann Girard

Sounds great but I have to add that my neighbor scared the daylights out of himself taking his Class C motor home over that Corkscrew Mountain road a couple of years ago. It's not wide enough for two large vehicles to pass in places...Roy




Goldeye Lake (Forestry Service)

A rustic but nice area near Nordegg on the David Thompson Highway. Rumor has it that there are some monster trout lurking in the little 'pot-hole' lake.

The road in there also has some surprise pot-holes, we broke a trailer spring there once.




Jarvis Bay

West of Highway 2, near Red Deer. Jarvis is heavily used in Summer due to it's proximity to Sylvan Lake Provincial Park so reservations are recommended..

Campsites at Jarvis are large and well separated and there are some nice trails to the cliff side viewpoint overlooking the lake. The private operators are doing a fine job here and report no skunk sightings in years.




Kananaskis Country

July, 2002: We're happy to report that the 'Men in Black', etc. have now left the park and that no G-8 Summit delegates or Prime Minister John Chretien were eaten by Grizzly bears.

Bow Valley Provincial Park

On the Trans Canada Highway One west of Calgary at the Northern end of Kananaskis Country.

Bow Valley has nice trails, showers, a well stocked store, and an interpretive center. Close to Calgary so is heavily used on week-ends. Willow Rock, just across the road, also boasts a laundromat.

"We've also enjoyed Bow Valley Provincial Park and we would recommend hiking the Grotto Canyon (along 1A) or the Grasi Lakes trail just north of Canmore."...Bob MacKinnon

"We stayed at Bow Valley after leaving Boulton Creek mainly to charge the battery and found the power sites quite small and closely spaced. The unserviced sites are much nicer if you can dry camp.

The 'Weasels' program at the outdoor Theatre was well done and hilarious with lots of audience participation. Roy and Janet 2003"

McLean Creek

West of Bragg Creek on Highway 66. Watch out for those Texas Gates!

We did an overnight stop here in September 2003. Large, well separated power sites and a pretty trout pond.

Part of this campground is set up for off highway vehicles.

Site operator link

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

In Kananaskis Country, South of Trans Canada hwy. 1. Named after a still living politician. There are several campgrounds and other facilities. Heavily used on week-ends due to proximity to Calgary. Three we have stayed in are Elkwood, Canyon, and reservation only Boulton Creek.

In 2003 we returned to Kananaskis country for the first time in years and were happy to find gas and propane available at the Fortress Junction store.

  1. Boulton Creek: A very nice reservation only campground. Large, exceptionally clean primitive sites. Showers, trails, campground store, and the odd grizzly bear in the area. See our 2003 trip log for some pictures. Last visited July 31, 2003. $17.00 per night plus the reservation fee.
  2. Canyon: Open sites with paved parking pads, next to a small canyon. Semi-primitive. A couple of Calgarians tried to by my site when we left on a Saturday on a long week-end once due to our son's work commitments. Took the high moral ground and got the heck out of there without taking any money.
  3. Elkwood: Large, well separated sites surrounded by Lodgepole Pines. Showers, trails, programs nearby.



Lakeland Provincial Park

Siebert, Ironwood, and Touchwood Lakes were formerly Forestry or AT campsites and were recently upgraded to Provincial Parks status.

We visited Sir Winston Churchill Park in August of 1998 and enjoyed Ranger Rob's presentation on back packing, etc. in Lakeland. The canoe route has board walked portages with canoe carts available. You are almost guaranteed to see lots of wildlife in the area including a lot of bears so go prepared.




Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park
on 'Alberta's Freshwater Ocean'

The Towh of Slave Lake was ravaged by a major forest fire in 2011 which destroyed a great many homes and businesses and caused a mass evacuation. Rebuilding is currently in progress.

"This is our trip to California!" , the father of the family playing in the big waves hitting the beach during strong West winds coming off the lake exclaimed in reaction to our bemused looks. They were alone on the best sand beach in Alberta that non too warm day but had made the best of the situation.

We had just set up for a few day's of camping at the Marten River Campground on the Eastern shore of Lesser Slave Lake and had been grumbling about the high winds. Lesser Slave Lake has beautiful beaches, clear water, and sand dunes. A trip up to the Marten River viewpoint with it's panoramic view of the sixty mile long lake was a must. We also hiked in to Lily lake on the trail from the viewpoint. The weather improved after a few days and let us enjoy the beach.

"A world class research project is also underway in the park. A non-profit society called the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory conducts land bird research on behalf of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network, the Forest industry, and many other partners in conservation." .... Frank Fraser , Visitor Services Officer and Lesser Slave Lake bird Observatory Fund raising Director

Lesser Slave is also renowned as the site of many fishing derbies, mostly centered at the west end of the lake.

Some other Lesser Slave Lake links:




Long Lake Provincial Park

A very popular lake north east of Edmonton. Some areas of the campground are a long way from the facilities. Showers, playgrounds, Perch/Pike fishing, Sailing, Water Skiing, etc. are available. The lake does tend to get quite green in the Summer.

"Our family of five went tenting at Long Lake. We stayed in campground "b". You have a 10 minute walk through the forest to the "private beach" but the short drive to the open beach is well worth it.. The kids had a great time building on the beach and chasing minnows in the water. The lake swimming area is shallow and great for our two year old. the campground area we stayed at(in the 120's) has a play area close for the kids. there are lots of tall mature trees and was well sheltered from the elements.

The campground seemed to make a conscious decision to put families up in this corner and was great to have all the kids around to entertain themselves. The park people were very friendly and although the weather was wet, chilly and threatening to snow in August the kids did not want to come home.
Thanks for letting me comment
Douglas"




Miquelon Lake Provincial Park

South west of Edmonton, about twenty minutes North of the City of Camrose.

Miquelon has a large, sandy beach, around 300 sites many of which have 120v available, showers, etc. Some handicapped facilities are also available. Due to close proximity to Edmonton Miquelon gets very busy during the summer so advance reservations should be made.

There is no longer a stocked trout pond at Miquelon. One is available at Telegraph Park by Hay Lakes. (No boats allowed there.)

Last visited on September 15 - 16, 2009. The renovations at Miquelon include a new visitor center, new and much improved shower buildings, and more RV dump stations. We also spotted the resident cow Moose and calf cooling off in the lake on a record thirty two degree C. day. Beautiful!




Moose Lake Provincial Park

A pleasant park just west of Bonnyville. Stocked Walleye but fishermen should be aware of Mercury warnings in that come with your Alberta angling permit.

We visited Moose Lake in August, 1998. Walleye fishing is limited to catch & release due to the collapsed status of the lake. Some power sites were available but no showers. Power sites were $18.00/night and wood cost $5.00 for a half wheel barrow load. Th day use area was closed.




Pembina River Provincial Park

Pembina day use areaPembina campsite


Pembina is a pretty, small park on hwy. 16 west near Entwhistle. Loop A , shown in the right hand picture, has fifteen plug in spots. A shower building was recently added as well. Pembina tends to fill up fast on week-ends due to easy four lane highway access to Edmonton.

More power only sites were added in the Summer of 1996, and a steep hiking trail to a viewpoint overlooking the Pembina River canyon was added in 1997.

Some interesting relics of the time two railroads raced towards the Pacific are visible from the trail. The original, Titanic era, Grand Trunk Pacific railroad bridge spanning the gorge was built in Scotland, dismantled for shipment, then re assembled over the river. Surveying was so accurate that every piece fit perfectly! The parallel Great Northern rail line was torn up for use as trackage for the First World War but some pieces of their bridge and the approach to it are still visible in the park.

Visited in August, 2004. Vandals had destroyed the interpretive signs at the top of the trail mentioned above. The left trail at the top of the cliff goes past a large groove in the ground that was made there for the Great Northern Railway bridge approach. The concrete piers for that bridge are also visible from the trail.

Last visited in June, 2008 and September 2008. Renovations started in September, 2011 so check before you go.




Pigeon Lake Provincial Park

South of Edmonton, west of hwy #2. Pigeon has large, well separated campsites, showers, a small beach, playgrounds, and some large grassy areas as well as a group camping area. There are two campgrounds but people tell us that Zeiner looks like a parking lot.

The Reynolds Transportation Museum and Aviation Hall of fame are East across highway 2. The last time we were there a Deusenburg, a coffin-nosed Cord, a Baker Electric, and a lot of other old cars were on display. Passed up a chance for a ride in thirties vintage Waco biplane at the Aviation H of F, remembering the 'In Here Slob' bag in Ted Edward's 1948 Cessna.

Ted Edwards taught Engineering at the U of A in the sixties and I recently heard from him via e-mail. Ted and Bertina now retired in the Okanogan. Ted no longer flies. ..Roy

Zeiner has had some renovations and Pigeon is slated for renovations in 2012.




Police Outpost Provincial Park

We haven't been there yet but their page is good if you can find it.




Red Lodge Provincial Park

A pretty, fairly large park along the banks of the Little Red Deer River, about 1/2 hour West of Bowden on Highway 2. Red Lodge has showers and a large number of reserved sites. There are rumored to be some Brown Trout in the river- catch & release only.




Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park

This park is situated on an island near the town of Lac La Biche in north-eastern Alberta. Sir W.C. tends to fill fast in Summer due to the novelty of an island park in land-locked Alberta. The Churchill Park section of Lac la Biche is a bird sanctuary with over two hundred species of birds. There is a viewing platform with a telescope to view the nesting White Pelicans and Purple Cormorants on nearby Pelican Island.

This park was a family favorite when our boys were younger-lots of trails, three beaches, Boreal forest, fishing, and interpretive programs. One well remembered program was the park interpreter who , dressed as a Voyageur, assembled his audience near beached boats and overturned canoes, and told tales of the pre 1799 fur-trade days. "---We paddled for sixteen hours a day----Eating wild game--Sometimes the eggs from birds nests that we found---Up the Beaver River---and finally---Lac la Biche!"

We visited Sir Winston Churchill Park in August, 1998. There are no power sites but showers and an RV dumping station have now been added. Cost for camping was $11.00/night with firewood sold for $2.50 per bundle or 5 bundles for 10.00. You camp in a 350 year old Boreal Forest so watch out for the squirrels who like to drop cones on aluminum skinned RV's from great heights.

Last visited in July, 2004. A campground store has been added.

Links

Tillebrook Provincial Campground

"Another neat campground is the Tillebrook Provincial Campground located on the Trans Canada just five minutes east of Brooks. It's in the middle of nowhere but it's a short drive to Kinbrook Provincial Park or to the Tyrell Museum field station in the badlands. The campground has excellent facilities and is paved and well-watered."...Bob MacKinnon




Thompson Creek Provincial Rec. Area

A small, rustic site just East of the Jasper Park gate on the David Thompson Highway. Our family remembers it as the site where we had a bear on top of our picnic table due to Dad's leaving the Hibachi out to cool off. Keeping a tidy campsite became an obsession after that!

Bear proof garbage cans have long since been added to this and most other sites.

We visited Thompson Creek in June, 1998 and found it had large, well separated campsites and some nice views of the mountains if you can live with no power and pump water in this Forestry Service campsite. It's very quiet but we were awakened by the howling of wolves in the early dawn hours which I considered more of a bonus than liability.




Thunder Lake Park

Only ninety minutes North-West of Edmonton, Thunder Lake tends to be full a good bit of the time. It's a pretty, shallow lake studded with islands. Showers and group camping are available.

I grew up on a farm just North of this park. The Campsie district bordering the park was named after the Campsie Hills in Scotland by our old neighbors, the Wallace family.

Visited August of 1999 because the wife wanted to go to a shoe store in Barrhead. The store had a 1947 vintage Barrhead High School sweater on display promoting the year 2000 homecoming. A bit before my time but I do still have my grad pin. :>)

Roy's 50th anniversary Barrhead High School reunion took place in September, 2009 at the Batt Traps golf course.

Our Parkland Jays Chapter of the Good Sam Club reserved the group area in 2001 and a couple of pictures are available here

Last visited in late September, 2011 during a time of beautiful Fall weather. A wonderful break after Janet's illness in August.




Vermilion Provincial Park

Vermilion has a row of immaculately kept soccer fields, a trout pond, a children's wading pool, good 'loony' showers, ten kilometers of hiking trails, a trout pond, etc.

We stopped at Vermilion on our way back from Lloydminster and found power only sites cost $17.00 per night. Some full service sites are available on top of 'Windy Hill'. Firewood is sold by the bundle.

Vermilion hosts a lot of soccer tournaments that fill this park up fast. ...Roy and Janet 2003




Wabamun Lake Provincial Park

N.B.: Wabuman Lake Provincial Park has been opened again after 2005 renovations. The trainload of bunker C oil that spilled in the lake last year may cause some problems.

Wabuman is a fairly large, scenic park on Highway 16 about 45 minutes west of Edmonton.

There are now two power site loops and a number of large unserviced sites.

Last visited in September, 2011. We also visited the village of Wabamun which includes the world's largest dragon fly.




William Switzer Provincial Park

William Switzer Park is on the highway to Grande Cache, North of Hinton, Alberta. Be sure to gas up in Hinton as there are no services until Grande Cache. The hill up the other side of the Athabasca River on this route seems more difficult than some of the mountain passes on the Jasper-Banff highway.

Lots of rain and the odd bear are common Hinton area hazards.

Campgrounds in William Switzer Park

Cache Lake
Rustic
Graveyard Lake

Reputed to be an old Indian burial ground-Janet would never stay there. Hinton area residents who have camped there say the burial ground story is complete nonsense, but facilities are quite primitive.

Gregg Lake

Under renovation in 2009

One of our favorites, a peaceful foot hills park that always seems to be a relief to get to after the commotion in Banff or Jasper. Large, treed sites with showers nearby. One loop has electric power available, there is also a central shower building.

Gregg Lake has a muddy bottom but the water is unusually clear. My son and I once spotted a Northern Pike lurking in the weeds about ten feet below our canoe, also canoed some of the creek that connects Switzer's five small lakes.

We drove up to Gregg Lake while camped at the Hinton-Jasper KOA in July, 2009. Renovation work is still going on there with only one loop open for camping. There is also a new visitor center by Kelly's Bathtub on Jarvis Lake.

Jarvis Lake

The only lake in the park with a beach, as far as I know, and this one can get noisy sometimes.




Willow Creek Provincial Park

Willow Creek is located near Stavely Alberta, not far off of highway two. The park is located in a lush river valley that is hidden by the long prairie grass above. " .....Norma Campbell




Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Whitney is situated East of Edmonton and just West of the Frog Lake Massacre site.

There are a series of small lakes and a campground with showers and a Group Camping area.




Willmore Wilderness Park

A link to information on riding and hiking trips , from the Alberta's Special Places site.




Writing on Stone Provincial Park

E-mail message from B.C. :"..... it's a *long* way south from Hwy. 1 on a great road with little traffic. There are lots of campsites but the park does not seem crowded. You can camp in nice sandy spots right on the river. The park rangers run regular trips to the petroglyph sites, some of the best in the world. (I hope the government is doing more to protect them from vandals than when I was there!). Lots of hoodoos and wildlife, too. I was there on July 1 weekend and, far from turning rowdy in honour of the holiday, people seemed to take the opportunity for quiet enjoyment - I think the ambiance of the place affects folks this way. Thanks for listening,
Maxine"

Writing on Stone is located near the Milk river, close to the U.S. border.




Photo Credits: The photos of Cross, Pembina, and Carson Pegasus Parks were taken by Roy Schmaus. Other credits are as shown.




For more complete information, brochures, etc. , call Alberta Tourism information (North America) 1-800-661-8888 or visit one of the Tourist Information Centers. The Alberta Campground Guide and the 'Discover Alberta's Provincial Parks' pamphlet are recommended and available at Tourist Information Centers throughout the province.The first is just a listing of locations and facilities available, the second has pictures and short articles on each park.

Related Links:


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