It’s easy to see why Albertans love their provincial parks. Anyone wanting nature at its finest will marvel at the endless variety of landscapes. Check out the vast, untamed parks of the north, the wide open plains and river valleys of central Alberta and the grasslands and Badlands in the parks of the south. Blow your mind some more and explore the rugged beauty of Kananaskis Country – so cool it needs its own page. The parks are teeming with wildlife, Aboriginal culture and history, and outdoor adventure. Many provide interpretive programming.
No matter where you are in Alberta, you’re less than an hour from a provincial park or recreation area. Over 500 protected areas make it easy to escape the hectic pace of the city and reconnect with nature. These provincial treasures are well guarded - White Goat, Siffleur and Ghost River are among the most strictly protected wilderness areas in Canada. You’re invited to stay - from remote backcountry camping to fully serviced sites, experience the provincial parks as your temporary home under the stars.
Mountains. Grasslands. Badlands. 500. Here’s your insider provincial parks checklist!
Rising 600 meters (1,970 ft) above the prairies is Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Sharing land with neighbouring Saskatchewan, it occupies the highest elevation east of the Rockies. Explore this unique ecosystem on 50 km (31 mi) of hiking trails.Go into Elkwater townsite to provision for a few days camping at Elkwater Lake. Cozy up for a night of perfect stargazing in the Dark Sky Preserve. 65 km (40 mi) southeast of Medicine Hat.
You can almost feel the ground rumbling with the footsteps of the mighty beasts that roamed Dinosaur Provincial Park millions of years ago. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park contains one of the richest bonebeds in the world. Join a dig and unearth ancient fossils. 200 km (124 mi) east of Calgary.
Fish Creek Provincial Park is right in the city of Calgary! Get away from life in the fast lane without leaving town. Calgary’s year round playground is one of the biggest urban parks in North America. Hike, bike or blade the trails in summer and snowshoe or ski them in winter. Stop for a fine meal at The Ranche Restaurant and learn the early history of this place.
New kid in town
Check out the latest jewel in the crown of Alberta’s provincial parks. Approximately 35 minutes north and west of Calgary’s city centre lies Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Its creation saved a vast expanse of scenic grassland valley from urban sprawl. You won’t believe the sweeping views of the Bow River valley and the toes of the foothills that give way to the Rocky Mountain skyline. Cycle or walk the extensive pathways and don’t forget the camera!
Calling all birdwatchers
A 1,421 hectare park named for extraordinary Albertan, Lois Hole, encompasses the Big Lake and Sturgeon River area around Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park supports large nesting grounds, and is a haven for more than 235 species of birds, including the endangered trumpeter swan and peregrine falcon. Bring your binoculars and birding scopes to the wildlife viewing platform on the eastern shore of Big Lake and get ready to cross a bunch off your ‘lifer’ list.
Lakes, lookouts and luge
On the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains, William A. Switzer Provincial Park is all eye candy. Still lakes reflect white peaks, blue skies and cool green forest. In winter, the park is pure excitement. Experience the Athabasca Lookout Nordic Centre’s world class cross country ski trails, biathlon shooting range, luge track and telemark hill. 90 km (56 mi) northeast of Jasper.
Camp by the river in the sacred Blackfoot land of Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. First Nations guides will lead you on an exploration of the valley’s bizarre rock formations and ancient paintings and carvings on the sandstone walls. Visit the First Nations themed visitor centre, and follow the interpretive trails. Stay for the drumming and storytelling around the campfire. 100 km (62 mi) southeast of Lethbridge.
Visit Alberta Parks for the full list of our parks and recreation areas.