Sheep Creek Provincial Park.

Alberta’s backyard: photos of the ten provincial parks and recreation areas that are now completely shut down

With a pledge to focus on ‘renowned signature destinations’ and cut spending, the Alberta government is shutting smaller provincial parks and recreation areas in rural areas of the province

Ten provincial parks and provincial recreation areas — covering more than 4,400 hectares — across Alberta are now shut down to the public, their websites sporting a new red banner reading “full closure.” 

The notice includes a note that “this closure is part of the changes to the Alberta Parks system that will allow government to focus its energy on renowned signature destinations.”

The move is expected to cut $5 million from the province’s budget — though critics have been quick to point out that the government has been able to find $30 million per year to fund its so-called ‘war room.’

These closures are part of a broader effort by Premier Jason Kenney’s government to “optimize” Alberta’s parks system, by fully or partially closing public sites, and by privatizing campgrounds and park facilities.

Ten more parks and recreations areas will be partially closed, while another 164 provincial recreation areas — which the government describes as “very small and under-utilized provincial recreation areas” — are on the list to be “removed from the parks system” and “available for partnership opportunities or alternative management approaches.”

As Katie Morrison of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society told CBC, “these are in more rural communities and smaller centres. They may not be right next to Calgary or Edmonton, but they are providing places for Albertans to go out and camp with their families.”

Below is a roundup of the ten provincial parks and recreation areas that will no longer allow any public access at all.

1. Sheep Creek Provincial Recreation Area

Sheep Creek Provincial Recreation Area was home to a small campground along the banks of Smoky River, just 25 kilometres north of Grand Cache.

View this post on Instagram

Fall is in the air 🍁🍂

A post shared by Brynlee Thomas (@brynlee.thomas) on

The site was popular with anglers and boaters — and anyone looking for a quiet escape along the Smoky River.

View this post on Instagram

First camping trip in the enchanted frog!

A post shared by Nicole (@mountainmamagc) on

2. Twin Lakes Provincial Recreation Area

Photo: Alberta Parks

The now-closed Twin Lakes provincial recreation area was 65 kilometres north of Manning, between Peace River and High Level.

The provincial recreation area was first opened in 1962, but is now fully closed according to the local tourism website, which says the entire area is “closed to public access … as part of the 2020 provincial budget cuts.”

This, it says, “includes ‘entire park’ — no access any more.”

According to Alberta Parks, “the lake is excellent for canoeing.” The lake was popular with anglers looking to catch rainbow trout, and the area also includes a pier, small campground and playground.

3. Crow Lake Provincial Park

Photo: Alberta Parks

Another park in northern Alberta, Crow Lake was a 786-hectare provincial park a little over 100 kilometres south of Fort McMurray.

According to Alberta Parks, “this beautiful northern lake is perfect for wildlife watching from a canoe, kayak, or other paddle equipment.”

 

4. Running Lake Provincial Recreation Area

Photo: Alberta Parks

More than 600 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, this remote area was home to a lakeside campground and picnic area, with opportunities for anglers to catch rainbow and brook trout.

5. Little Fish Lake Provincial Park

Photo: Alberta Parks

Roughly 40 kilometres east of Drumheller, Little Fish Lake provincial park was billed by Alberta Parks as a “quiet prairie campground.”

View this post on Instagram

No pun in-tent-ed ⛺️ 🦕 🦖

A post shared by Marcy Montgomery (@marcyjeanmontgomery) on

Located near the badlands of the Red Deer River, Alberta Parks dubbed it a good spot for “bird watching and relaxing under starry skies.”

 

View this post on Instagram

Bernice’s first trip was a success #vanlife 😍🍻

A post shared by Rae (@luckylioness.hairlounge) on

6. Kehiwin Provincial Recreation Area

Photo: Alberta Parks

More than 230 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, Kehiwin provincial recreation area was home to what Alberta Parks describes as a”cozy” campground with nearly three dozen lake-side campsites, a playground and a boat launch.

 

The area also included a beach and a fish-cleaning station.

7. Greene Valley Provincial Park

Photo: Alberta Parks

The largest of the parks to be fully closed, Greene Valley provincial park, not far from Peace River, was designated as a park just 20 years ago, in 2000.

The park is nearly 500 kilomentres northwest of Edmonton.

8. Sulphur Lake Provincial Recreation Area

Photo: Alberta Parks

An hour’s drive north of Peace River, Sulphur Lake was home to an 11-site campground “nestled in the beautiful mixedwood forest on the shore of Sulphur Lake.”

9. Bleriot Ferry Provincial Recreation Area

Photo: Alberta Parks

Adjacent to the Bleriot ferry — a still-operational cable ferry that was first constructed more than 100 years ago — the Bleriot Ferry provincial recreation area was home to a small campground among cottonwoods.

Alberta Parks advertised the campground as a spot with easy access to the Red Deer River — a destination “for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, or just floating along through the winding badlands.”

10. Stoney Lake Provincial Recreation Area

Photo: Alberta Parks

Another spot in northwestern Alberta, Stoney Lake was a campground — maintained by campers themselves — home to 15 campsites along the shores of Montagneuse Lake.

Like several other now-shuttered areas, it was hundreds of kilometres from the nearest major city.

One of the now fully closed provincial recreation areas in Alberta, Sheep Creek. Photo: Ian Robert Reid / Alberta Parks

 

We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?
We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

See similar stories

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs hosted a Peace and Unity gathering. RCMP made arrests

This week Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs welcomed a delegation from across the country and beyond to the yintah (territory) for a Peace and Unity Summit. Through...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Support investigative journalism you won't find anywhere else
Support investigative journalism you won't find anywhere else
We’re tripling our Prairies coverage
The Narwhal’s newly minted Prairies bureau is here to bring you stories on energy and the environment you won’t find anywhere else. Stay tapped in by signing up for a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism.
We’re tripling our Prairies coverage
The Narwhal’s newly minted Prairies bureau is here to bring you stories on energy and the environment you won’t find anywhere else. Stay tapped in by signing up for a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism.