When camping with kids near Calgary you want it close, you want a variety of activities and you want convenience. Crimson Lake Provincial Park has all of that just 2 1/2 hours Northwest from the core of downtown. (Yes, the official directions will say it’s 3+ hours, trust me – it’s 2 1/2.)
Camping Fees: $29 with electrical / $23 without
Number of Sites: 172 (1/2 available for reservation)
Facilities: shower, laundry. 3 playgrounds, boating, swimming, flush toilets, store, concession, hiking (fishing is available at Twin Lakes a few km away)
Nearest Town: Rocky Mountain House [15km]
Cell Reception: Moderate (payphones available)
The Cowboy Trail is a legendary road running north south on the west side of Alberta. At the northern end of the trail is Rocky Mountain House, a strategic point in Canadian history when both the Northwest and Hudsons Bay Trading Companies set up duelling outposts at the edge of the Rockies.
Just 15 kilometres away from this National Historic Site is Crimson Lake Provincial Park, a park surrounding a gorgeous lake about the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Having Rocky Mountain House so close, makes it this campground a great place to get rustic and still have other adventures close by, like visiting the old town.
There is no sport fishing on Crimson Lake, but if you want to toss in a line, Twin Lakes is just a few km away and it is stocked with rainbow trout. There are also a few golf courses in the area making a stop at this campground much more diverse.
Crimson Lake Provincial Park has a store with all the sorts of things you could forget, a laundry for those who plan on staying a while and lots of trails to explore. There is a 10k loop around the lake that’s great for a run or ride, so pack along your training shoes or bike. If you want to get wet, the beach is long and features a shallow play area for young kids and soft, wet sand that’s perfect for castle building.
There’s a boat launch for those with motorized toys and lots of picnic tables scattered along the shoreline to make sure once you get down to the water you don’t need to leave for the rest of the day.
The Provincial Campground is on the southeast shore of Crimson Lake and while you’re down playing in your ankles you’ll see dozens of cabins dotting the west shore.
The campsites themselves are spread over a wide treed area and are each nestled in a private nook with your own firepit and privacy from your neighbours. There are paths winding throughout the property linking the playgrounds, bathrooms and other facilities so you can wander around without getting in the way of the traffic.
50 of the facilities have electrical hookups, the others don’t. Crimson Lake Provincial Park is also reservable, and with a wide array of things to keep entertained, grabbing your weekend and perfect site ahead of time might be worth the $12 Reserve Alberta Parks investment.
Crimson Lake is the perfect campground for families. The sites are private, there’s a lot to do, the beach is soft, the water is shallow. We saw many groups of families pow-wowing on the beach together – that’s our plan for our next visit.