Undisturbed wildland on the northern doorstep of the Rocky Mountains is pure eye candy. Lose yourself in 63 sq km (24 sq mi) of rolling foothills, meadows, evergreen and aspen forests, glacial lakes and wetlands. All this waits just 3.5 hours west of Edmonton and 20 minutes north of Hinton in William A. Switzer Provincial Park.
Are you wild for wildlife? You’re likely to spot more creatures than humans. Borrow a wildlife viewing pack from the Visitor’s centre and watch for grizzly and black bear, wolves, coyotes, cougar, moose, elk, beavers and over 150 species of birds. Wild for water? Canoe, boat, sail, swim, and fish to your heart’s content.
Land lover? Hike to the Athabasca Lookout – about a 15 minute walk from the parking lot and, wow, what a view you get of the Solomon Valley from a height of 1,585 m (5,200 ft). Scan the skies for eagles and hawks on the updrafts above the foothills and mountain ranges to the west.
Wild and wooly. Wet and wonderful. Here is your William A. Switzer Provincial Park checklist!
Stock up on all things outdoor in Hinton, jumping-off point for the park.
Six Pack of Family Fun
Stop at the park’s visitor centre and make a donation to rent any of six different Family Fun Adventure Packs. You’ll find everything you need to explore nature here. Check out the interpretive programs offered in the summer months.
Jarvis Creek interconnects a chain of five lakes within the park. Rent a canoe and paddle the 4 km interpretive route. Put in at Kelley’s Bathtub near the visitor’s centre. It takes about an hour to get to the take out point at Graveyard campground. Crossing beaver dams is part of the fun!
Hike or bike any number of self-guided interpretive trails. Try the Jarvis Lake Trail, a 10 km (6.1 mi) loop beginning at the Kelley’s Bathtub parking area. The Gregg Lake Trail is a 4 km loop that begins at the boat launch and circles back on the lakeside road. In winter, cross country ski a further 2 km through a beautiful meadow to the Cache Campground.
Tons of campgrounds to choose from: Gregg Lake (has the most sites), Jarvis Lake, Graveyard (really!), Lakeside, Cache and Halfway. Bring your friends and family and use a group campground: Pine Bay or Beaver Ranch. Go to Alberta Parks to reserve your site. Did you know you can camp year round in this park?
Nordic in the North
In the winter months, enjoy cross country skiing on 50 km (31 mi) of groomed trails at the Athabasca Lookout Nordic Centre. The centre also features a luge run, telemark hill, and biathlon gun range. You may encounter Olympic hopefuls in training!