Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Crimson Lake Provincial Park - Hidden Gem in Alberta Campgrounds

Crimson Lake Provincial Park is located near Rocky Mountain House in Central Alberta.  We spent a long weekend here at the beginning of September after hearing how amazing the area was.  The verdict:  Annual Trip Baby!!

Crimson Lake Provincial Park

Choosing your Campground in Crimson Lake Provincial Park

The campgrounds in the Crimson Lake area are all fabulous and you have choices from group camping to lake-front camping right at Crimson Lake where you can make reservations, to non reservable "natural" camping at Twin Lakes nearby.

Natural Camping at Twin Lakes

While there are no sites at Crimson Lake right "on" the beach or with actual lake views, you are within a short bike ride from the swimming beach and you'll find 107 power sites so that you don't have to bring your generator if you require your air conditioning, microwave and coffee maker.

Playing at the Crimson Lake Beach

Families who enjoy fishing will want to camp at nearby Twin Lakes with several docks that border the small lake.  I don't know if anybody caught anything, but we saw people fishing all weekend at this campground from sunrise to sunset.  This is also a good campground for families who want to enjoy peace and quiet for canoeing or paddling without the noise of motor boats found on the bigger Crimson Lake.

Fishing Docks at Twin Lakes

If you have a group of 5 families or more joining you, you can also book a group campground at either Crimson Lake or Twin Lake.  This is always a good option for family reunions or large gatherings where you want to camp close together. 

Group Camping in Crimson Lake Provincial Park

Beach Time at Crimson Lake

We spent an afternoon at the Crimson Lake beach and found it to be a safe place for kids to play.  The swimming area was shallow enough for the kids to easily run around in and because it was roped off, they could even practice a bit of paddling in toy kayaks.  The playground at the lake is also fabulous with tons of powdery soft sand to play in!!

Beach Time at Crimson Lake
Learning to Kayak at Crimson Lake

Biking around Crimson Lake

We biked the Amerada Trail while we were at Crimson Lake and it was a great family bike trail that loops the lake in an easy 9km ride.  While it is definitely mountain biking, we just walked the big hills and rode the fun parts. 

Biking the Amerada Trail at Crimson Lake
Biking on the Boardwalk at Crimson Lake

Mountain Biking from Rocky Mountain House to Crimson Lake

We found another great mountain bike trail as well while camped at Crimson Lake.  While we couldn't find a lot of information on the ride, I did take a photo of the trail map shown here and we broke the ride up into two trips:  Rocky to Twin Lakes, and Crimson to Twin Lakes.

The total distance is 12km one way according to the visitor information I found. All in all, it's a doable distance for a one way ride with young kids or return trip with older children. 

There were a lot of hills but we just walked them and accepted that at least we weren't hiking 100% of the trail.  We biked what we could, and walked the rest.  Either way, we still got to bike about 60% of the trail at least.

For more information on bike trails in Rocky Mountain House, and to view the visitor guide, click on this link to the Rocky Mountain House Visitor Guide.  The biking information is on page 33.

Biking between Rocky Mountain House and Crimson Lake


Lake Time at Twin Lakes

Although the Alberta Parks website refers to Twin Lakes in the plural, there is really just one lake.  One that we found anyway.  And though it doesn't have a beach, it's still a great place to spend the day fishing, canoeing, and enjoying some quiet time on the water.

Morning paddling on Twin Lake
Evening at Twin Lake (photo:  Cam Schaus)
Biking on the boardwalk at the Twin Lakes Campground


Paddling on the North Saskatchewan River

Being the paddle-happy family we are, we couldn't camp near a major river and not take some time to do a short paddle.  We put in just above the National Historic Site in Rocky Mountain House at the rapids known as the Brierley's. Fortunately there was a safe way around the rapids on the left and we only paddled for an hour until we reached the Hwy 11A bridge.  Next time, we're definitely doing a longer stretch.  For a map of this stretch of river, check out this map of the North Saskatchewan River.

Putting in on the North Saskatchewan River
Easy Class I Rapids on the North Saskatchewan
Paddling under a bridge outside of Rocky Mountain House
Take out spot at the Hwy 11A bridge

Special Memories

It's always a happy moment when you find a hidden gem like Crimson Lake Provincial Park and that was our experience this summer.  We can't wait to go back to this beautiful part of Alberta.

Camping Memories at Crimson Lake Provincial Park (photo:  Cam Schaus)

For more information on Crimson Lake Provincial Park, visit the Alberta Parks website.

For more great campgrounds visit this story:  The Best Provincial Park Campgrounds in Southern Alberta

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