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 have visitor centres and 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!
Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park
This place got its name because of a plateau that rises 130 m (426 ft) above the Red Deer River, where for 3,000 years the Plains Cree drove buffalo over the edge to their deaths, ensuring the survival of their people. What you may not know is that Dry Island Buffalo Jump is just as famous for dinosaur fossils as its more widely-recognized cousin, Dinosaur Provincial Park. In fact, the area is documented as the site of the most important bonebeds of the Albertosaurus – a slightly smaller cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex. The 34.5 sq km (13.3 sq mi) park is yours to explore. Set up camp, hike the hills, paddle the Red Deer River, watch for raptor birds including vultures, hawks and falcons, and fish for just about every kind you can find in Alberta.
Fish Creek Provincial Park
Fish Creek Provincial Park is right in the middle of 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.
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
Check out one of the newest Alberta’s provincial parks. Approximately 35 minutes northwest 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!
Lakeland Provincial Park
East of Lac La Biche in the heart of our lake country, discover some of the finest lakes, beaches and shorelines. Home to Alberta’s only backcountry canoe circuit, put in at Mile 10 staging area and paddle Kinnaird, Jackson and Blackett lakes. Lakeland Provincial Park has lots of campgrounds and access to hiking such as the Shaw Lake Trail used by First Nations and the early fur traders.
Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park
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. The 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.
Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park
This park is an entire island, the largest of nine in the middle of the lake known as Lac La Biche. Camp overnight or just hang out for the day. Explore the island on the well-marked trails. Launch your boat into one of the largest lakes in the region. Three sandy beaches for sunning and swimming and two fully-equipped playgrounds for the kids make this the perfect summer getaway. And it’s heaven for birdwatchers. Bring your scopes and try to spot over 200 resident and migrant species of boreal forest birds, waterfowl and shoreline birds.
Visit Alberta Parks for the full list of our parks and recreation areas.