Rimed with rocky mountains, covered with vast coniferous forests, and rich with mineral deposits lies the beautiful western province of Canada known as Alberta. This province of Canada is known to nature lovers for its beautiful scenery. From prairies to desert badlands and more than 600 lakes, the unique landscape of Alberta has everything a nature lover can dream of.
So, if you are a resident of Alberta or planning a trip there, you must not miss the provincial parks to get the most out of nature. The list of the provincial parks in Alberta is pretty lengthy, but here are the names of the three most famous ones where you can have most of the fun activities.
1. Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park falls under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This famous provincial park in Alberta contains fossils of more than 50 species of dinosaurs dating back nearly 75 million years.
This provincial park never fails to give its visitors a sense of adventure. As you explore its five noted trails, you can come across dinosaur bones yourself.
1.1 Things to Do in Dinosaur Provincial Park
This provincial park helps you explore the history of dinosaurs and has other fun activities planned for its visitors. You can hike through 5 self-guided interpretive trails and explore its unique wildlife.
This famous provincial park in Alberta is home to some of the most notable animals and snakes, like mules, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, pronghorn antelope, prairie rattlesnakes, and bull snakes.
The months of May and June are excellent times for bird watching as more than 160 species of birds can be spotted in this provincial park during this season, including golden eagles, mountain bluebirds, prairie falcons, warblers, woodpeckers, waterfowl, and many more.
Other than hiking and birdwatching, you can also enjoy fishing and paddling in the Red Deer River. Even though Dinosaur Provincial Park offers a designated campground, it is much more than a vacation destination. It is a destination for archaeological, biological, and paleontological researchers, where they reach out to seek answers to their questions.
The park also has a museum called the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which takes part in various research activities. A field trip through Dinosaur Provincial Park is an excellent learning opportunity for your family and children. This provincial park in Alberta also has volunteering activities. Taking part in these activities can be deeply enriching as well.
1.2 Safety Tips
- Dinosaur Provincial Park is filled with venomous rattlesnakes. So, keep your pets on a leash, and if you spot one, walk away as slowly as possible.
- In the months of July and August, the temperature rises up to 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Protect yourself from heat exhaustion and sunburn while hiking. Bring plenty of water with you and wear a hat to cover your head.
- During rainstorms, the place can be extremely slippery due to a large amount of clay and water. So, make sure that you are wearing sturdy closed-toe shoes with a good grip while you go hiking.
2. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Located in Kananaskis Country, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park falls within Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. This park is considered the largest provincial park in Alberta, spreading over an area of 304 square kilometres.
This provincial park in Alberta promotes all the cool nature-oriented fun activities, including camping, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, and cross-country skiing. The park also provides cool hiking trails that will help you explore nature to the fullest extent.
This provincial park in Alberta offers more than six campgrounds for backcountry camping and seven automobile-accessible campgrounds.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is open all year round for visitors and is home to a variety of rare wildlife like black bears, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, lynx, cougars, Rocky mountain wolves, moose, grizzly bears, mountain goats, etc.
3. William A. Switzer Provincial Park
William A. Switzer Provincial Park lies between Grand Cache and Hinton. This provincial park in Alberta is open for exploration both in summer and winter. As this is located in the foothills of the rocky mountains of Alberta, the visitors can enjoy the outdoor recreation areas while camping on the sandy beach paved with green trees of Cache Lake, Blue Lake, Jarvis Lake, and Gregg Lake.
One can never get bored in this provincial park in Alberta. It provides group camping areas where you can visit with your family and friends to relax and enjoy a peaceful time away from the busy city or town life.
Booking a trip to William A. Switzer Provincial Park will help you spend your vacation doing fun activities like swimming, camping, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and many more. You can also rent a canoe to add more fun to your tours.
Be it summer or winter, if you are looking for thrill and adventure, William A. Switzer is just the right place for you. But, if you are planning to visit this provincial park in Alberta, then there are some safety tips that you must keep in mind.
3.1 Safety Tip for William A. Switzer Provincial Park
- This place has quite a lot of bears and cougars. So, maintain your safety. Don’t cook or eat near your tent. Keep your torchlight on at night, and if you have brought your pets, make sure they are leashed properly. An unleashed pet might attract the attention of the bears.
- If you spot a bear, do not show fear. Do not run, and stay calm. Enter your vehicle and make loud noises to scare the bear away.
- Travel in groups and keep your children under supervision.
- While hiking, do not forget to carry pepper spray and a walking stick.
- If you spot a cougar, always keep enough room for its escape.
- Check the park’s visitor center before planning your trip for further safety tips and some more pieces of advice.
4. Some Famous National Parks in Alberta You Can Explore
There is a huge difference between National parks and provincial parks. Provincial parks are territorial parks that are generally managed by a country’s province. On the contrary, a national park is protected by the central government of the country.
These parks are immensely valuable because they are sometimes used to protect endangered wildlife or to preserve valuable historical evidence.
Even though these national parks encourage visitors, they have far greater value than other recreation areas. These national parks invite people to enlighten and educate people. If you take a tour through these national parks, you will enjoy and learn something new as well.
So, grab your map and get ready for some educational and outdoor recreation because Alberta acquires more than three of these national parks.
4.1 Wood Buffalo National Park
This national park in Alberta is the largest national park in Canada and covers an area of 44807 square kilometres, which suggests that the area covered by this national park exceeds the entire country of Switzerland.
This park is protected by IUCN and is declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Wood Buffalo National Park protects the last remaining herd of wood bison and is the chief habitat of endangered whooping cranes. This national park is the conservator of the largest beaver dam in the world.
If you wish to visit this famous park, then catch a vehicle and drive through the road from Hay River to Fort Smith. This three-hour ride will take you to the main headquarters of this national park. The park offers fun activities like camping, day hiking, bird and animal watching, canoeing, paddling, motor boating, etc. Other than these common nature-oriented activities, this national park offers the world’s largest night sky for star gazing.
4.2 Banff National Park
Famous for its majestic rocky mountains and vibrant lakes, Banff National Park spreads over 6641 square kilometres in Alberta and is the first national park in Canada.
The place attracts tourists all year round for its tranquil beauty. If you plan to take in the actual beautiful scenery of this park then plan your tour for a minimum of five days in the months of May, June, or September.
4.2.1 Main Things to do in Banff National Park
Banff National Park is known for its vibrant lakes like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, etc. Each of these lakes has its own unique scenic beauty, which a nature lover would not wish to miss. Banff National Park can act as a peaceful and serene getaway where you can hike, relax and bask in the beauty of nature.
As you hike through the rocky mountains layered with different shades of greenery, you can end up finding the little town of Banff surrounded by mountains on the south end of Banff National Park. You can decide to set on a journey to explore this little town.
Suppose you are a nature lover and an early riser. In that case, Banff National Park opens a spectacular wildlife where you can get a glimpse of animals like woodland caribou, black bears, moose, bighorn sheep, elk, deer, and many more unique animals. And after a tiring yet exciting day, you can grab your towel and swimsuit and soak in the soothing hot springs of Banff, which are located at a short distance.
4.3 Waterton Lakes National Park
If you are wondering whether this park is worth visiting or not, then it is better for you to know Waterton Lakes National Park is considered one of the crown jewels of Canada.
Famous for its chains of lakes surrounded by alpine meadows and rocky mountains, this national park ranks second in the biosphere reserve that takes part in the UNESCO program. If you are looking for a quick vacation of two days to relax amid the heart of nature, then this park is the perfect spot for you.
One of the best things that you can do other than biking and hiking is to rent a boat ride for two hours through the vibrant lakes of this park. As you travel through the waters, you can cross the border between the USA and Canada and make a brief halt in the Goat Haunt of Glacier National Park.
This brief, serene journey is all you need if you are trying to seek refreshment in nature.
4.4 Willmore Wilderness Park—A Worth Mention
Located just next to Jasper National Park, this wilderness park is worth mentioning. Untouched by the artificiality of the urban lifestyle, this park is lesser known than the other national or provincial parks in Alberta. Away from public roads, buildings, and bridges, this park quietly sustains the nature and beauty of the wilderness.
Alberta Community Development maintains the park and is home to animals like timber wolves, woodland caribou, coyotes, elk, cougars, lynx, and bears. From horseback riding to white water rafting, many other fun nature-oriented activities are offered by this park and are definitely worth paying a visit.
5. List of Other Famous Alberta Parks
As mentioned earlier, Alberta’s provincial parks list is pretty lengthy. Therefore, a true nature lover will never get bored if he plans his tour in Alberta. So, are you a nature lover? Are you fond of camping and other nature-oriented activities?
Have you visited the famous parks mentioned above and still craving more peace amid nature? Well, then, you can perish this list of Alberta parks.
- Jasper National Park: Jasper National Park is famous for the beautiful scenic beauty of the Canadian Rockies, spanning 11000 square kilometres. March, May, September, and November are the best time to visit this national park.
- Whitehorse Wildland Provincial Park in Alberta: Whitehorse Wildland Provincial Park in Alberta is a perfect place if you wish to spend a fun time in nature. Whitehorse Wildland Provincial Park in Alberta is open for camping, geocaching, hiking, hunting, biking, and wildlife viewing.
- Elk Island National Park: This national park is open throughout the week and for 24 hours. UNESCO designates Elk Island National Park, and the park offers workshops, guided tours, and other learning experiences. The park also has a small gift shop from where you can buy souvenirs for your friends and family.
- Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park in Alberta: Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park can be considered the northernmost bird observatory in Canada. The scenic setting of this place consists of beach ridges, storm beaches, and blowout dunes.
- Kinbrook Island Provincial Park in Alberta: If wildlife watching is one of your favourite hobbies, then Kinbrook Island Provincial Park in Alberta is an ideal place for you. Unique species like a ring-billed gull, American white pelican, California gull, common tern, great blue heron, double-crested cormorant, and many more inhabit this provincial park.
- Fish Lake Provincial Recreational Area: Enjoy boating and fishing amid the crystal clear lake of this place.
- Thompson Creek Provincial Recreational Area: This place is open for camping, and firewood is available for free. Amenities include clean, dry toilets and sheltered camp kitchens.
- Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in Alberta: Recently acknowledged by UNESCO, Writing on Stone Provincial Park in Alberta is a phenomenally beautiful place that is home to more than 100 species of birds. The park is famous for its sandstone cliffs, which are artistically marked by indigenous Blackfoot people.
- Spray Valley Provincial Park in Alberta: With 98 square miles of wilderness, Spray Valley Provincial Park offers approximately 30 campground sites. This provincial park in Alberta is a part of Kananaskis Country Park and offers fun activities like camping, fishing, canoeing, environmental education, etc.
- Cypress Hills Provincial Park in Alberta: Cypress Hills Provincial Park in Alberta shows a unique confluence of grasslands, wetlands, and forests. This provincial park in Alberta has historical value as it presents to the world the evidence of the habitation of the 8500-year-old ancient North American human race.
- Pierre Grey’s Lakes Provincial Park in Alberta: Enjoy lake-side camping at Pierre Grey’s Lake Provincial Park, which offers a series of lakes with immense scenic beauty.
- Aspen Beach Provincial Park in Alberta: The Southern shores of Aspen Beach Provincial Park offer year-round recreation to tourists. But pet lovers will be sad to find out that this provincial park in Alberta is not open to our furry friends.
- Lakeland Provincial Park in Alberta: This provincial park in Alberta is famous for its collection of lakes, which includes Kinnaird, McGuffin, Jackson, Shaw, Dabbs, and Blackett.
- Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Park in Alberta: Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Park is a fine place with 20777.69 hectares of subalpine landscapes and nearly five trails for hiking.
- Crimson Lake Provincial Park in Alberta: If you are an inhabitant of Alberta, then you have the opportunity to enjoy a fun getaway amid nature any time of the year, as Crimson Lake Provincial Park offers year-round camping.
Alberta parks span nearly 27000 square kilometers and protect the biodiversity and several endangered species of Canada. Paying a visit to these parks can be exciting and educationally beneficial.
Arranging group activities in these parks can not only encourage cognitive development but also help in the affective domains, which teaches a person to respond, organize, and empathize with others.