I grew up in a vacationer city. Not the spring break, summer season on the seashore kind of vacationer city or the cultural hub, uncommon antiquities kind of vacationer city. Sadly. No, my hometown was the bus a great deal of large metropolis seniors coming to purchase ornamental however ineffective knickknacks and hopefully catch a glimpse of Previous Order Mennonites in horse and buggies kind of vacationer city. Enjoyable is available in assorted kinds.
At its peak within the ‘80s and ‘90s, the downtown core was one massive shopping center inundated with pedestrians mindlessly disrupting visitors and aggravating locals. So irritating have been these hordes of holiday makers that in twenty-four years I by no means as soon as stepped foot in many of the shops luring these lots to city.
The centrepiece of this artisanal jamboree was a century-old flour mill transformed to retailers. I solely bear in mind being inside it as soon as and that was for an elementary faculty subject journey to study making apple dolls. As a result of, sure, there was as soon as a time when folks made a residing by solely promoting dolls made with dried fruit for heads.
The purpose is, my yard was this extremely in style place and I knew little or no about it. So negligent was my curiosity within the vacationer actions of my hometown, that this previous summer season whereas house visiting I made a decision to go for a stroll round city and was startled to find that the aforementioned mill is sort of empty. I assume the knickknack enterprise has handed its prime very similar to the majority of its clientele and I’ll now by no means know what drew so many into that place in addition to the shrivelled apple noggins.
This previous summer season we camped for the very first time in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, a part of Alberta’s famend Kananaskis Nation, and I quickly found I had repeated the identical mistake I had made with my hometown. I’ve lived in Calgary for practically twenty years and assumed Kananaskis was nothing greater than a superb mountain golf course, an underappreciated ski hill, an assortment of wilderness trails, and Mt. Kidd RV Park. I couldn’t have been extra improper.
Do your self a favour, nicely two, truly. Don’t wait twenty years to camp in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and if you do, make sure you take the southerly path to the park through Highways 40 and 541 from Longview, Alberta.
This stretch of street, also referred to as the Highwood Move loop, is a scenic wonderland that just about rivals the enduring Icefields Parkway for sheer magnificence. It’s the longer path to Peter Lougheed for many of Calgary and components north, however so very price it. Foothills ranch lands beckon you westward as they evolve into superb, thrusted partitions of gray, snow-capped Rocky Mountains. I truthfully might have spent the weekend simply driving backwards and forwards alongside this freeway.
And we very practically did, because of my ignorance of this a part of the province mixed with a scarcity of mobile service and a irritating dearth of signage. Okay, principally the primary one. However is it too onerous so as to add indicators for the main campgrounds within the numerous provincial parks making up Kananaskis Nation? Certain, we handed a “Peter Lougheed Provincial Park” signal however I’m on the hunt for “Boulton Creek Campground” indicators which by no means got here. It was solely once we’d made it to Mt. Kidd-freaking-RV Park that we realized we’d missed our vacation spot totally. Not one of the simplest ways to start out a soothing weekend within the outdoor.
The understated signage signaling the lone entrance to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park was much more perplexing as soon as we found how large a summer season recreation space this park truly is. It blew my thoughts. I truly felt a little bit silly. I’d been blind to this place for twenty years regardless of tenting virtually subsequent door at Mt. Kidd a number of occasions.
Centred round Higher and Decrease Kananaskis Lakes, Peter Lougheed is house to a number of campgrounds of various sizes and facilities, a lodge, a number of day use areas, mountaineering trails, a retailer, an gear rental store, and a customer centre. There’s even a fuel station on the primary freeway not too far up the street from the park entrance. If that’s not an indication of a bustling vacation spot then, nicely, it’s on the very least an indication you’re in Alberta.
In my defence, one of many causes we’ve missed Peter Lougheed Provincial Park for thus lengthy is that most of the campgrounds are first come, first served solely. Boulton Creek and Elkwood, the 2 largest campgrounds, have some reservable websites however all the opposite campgrounds are FCFS.
As I elaborated upon in my Sandy McNabb assessment, FCFS is a vacation spot killer for us. And that’s a rattling disgrace as a result of among the non-reservable campgrounds in Peter Lougheed look unimaginable. Decrease Lake campground, specifically, seems superb located alongside the south shore of Decrease Kananaskis Lake and providing spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
For our inaugural go to, we selected Boulton Creek campground over Elkwood campground primarily as a result of the park grocery retailer, referred to as the Bouton Creek Buying and selling Put up, is situated there. And grocery shops in campgrounds sometimes imply one factor; scrumptious treats, specifically, ice cream. I might not be disenchanted.
Loop B Web site
Boulton Creek is a stunning, forested, mountain campground. Yeah, that description will get repetitive out right here, however it is vitally a lot what you come to anticipate when tenting west of Calgary. We’re fortunate that method.
The campsites in Boulton Creek are spacious and sheltered with some, relying on location, particularly personal and quiet. All are massive with stage, gravel pads on which to arrange your rig and surrounding your firepit. Set amongst Lodgepole Pine, you actually really feel like you will have your individual private oasis to camp in. In the event you’re seeking to decompress from metropolis residing, that is the prescription your physician ought to be supplying you with.
Pull-through web site
Boulton Creek campground has 161 websites in 5 lettered loops. Many of the websites are back-in however a couple of pull-throughs exist in loops B and D. Loops A, C, and D are un-serviced, together with six walk-in websites in Loop C. Loop B, the place we have been, has 35 websites with 15amp energy and water.
The one gripe I had with our campsite was that the hookups have been situated too close to the entrance. With our small 16’ trailer, we have been unable to hookup to providers from the spot the place we needed to put our trailer. Giant trailers shouldn’t have an issue, however it will have been good if the hookups had been put in additional again on the campsite footprint.
Finally, we selected to fill our RV water tank from the water provide on our web site then transfer it again to the spot the place we needed it. Luckily, we had an extended extension twine in our possession and have been in a position to connect with energy from our most popular location.
Loop E Web site
Loop E seems to be a brand new addition to the campground. Positioned instantly beside the doorway parking zone and registration space subsequent to the Buying and selling Put up, these websites are a lot nearer collectively. Although nonetheless forested, they don’t provide the identical expansive, personal really feel of websites within the older loops. Loop E websites do, nonetheless, have full providers together with sewer, one thing you don’t usually discover within the mountain parks.
All loops come furnished with no less than one outhouse and several other potable water spigots. Even Loop E, the one with sewer service, had a pleasant, new outhouse. We have been tenting at Boulton Creek campground on Labour Day weekend and I can guarantee you, by the top of summer season these pit bogs are vile smelling huts able to inducing constipation faster than consuming a brick of cheese.
That’s to not say that they have been filthy or not attended to, there’s simply no beating nature in terms of sewage stewing in heat temperatures for months. Fortunately, there’s a extra interesting choice obtainable for relieving oneself.
Positioned on the primary campground street, simply to the north of Loop B, Boulton Creek gives campers a brick and mortar bathe and flush bathroom bathhouse. It’s an inexpensive stroll from Loop E and most of Loop B however campers in Loops A, C, and D may discover it an extended haul and not using a bike or automobile. Nonetheless, well worth the effort to keep away from pit bogs.
The inside of this bathhouse is pretty commonplace Alberta Provincial Park stuff. Nothing particular however nothing horrible both. A pair bathroom stalls, urinals within the mens, and some sinks for cleansing up. Showers are token-operated and tokens are bought on the Buying and selling Put up. As regular, I didn’t bathe on our quick go to so I can’t remark as to the standard of the showers or the recent water. I even forgot to have a look at the model of bathe controls. I assume I used to be simply so completely satisfied at not having to make use of the pit bogs.
I’m a bit stunned there is no such thing as a laundry service hooked up to the bathhouse or wherever within the campground. With all of the outside actions obtainable to friends, they’re certain to get sweaty and soiled. We’ve come to anticipate laundry amenities in bigger campgrounds related to sturdy outside actions like this one. And on this event, we might have used one! Extra on that additional down.
In the event you select the consolation of your individual RV lavatory, Boulton Creek campground has a dump station as you strategy the primary registration/Buying and selling Put up parking zone. This dump station is a stupidly engineered factor. It has two entrances enabling RVs to strategy the dump spot from both finish, nonetheless, solely a single gap is offered. In different phrases, two trailers can concurrently enter the dump station however just one can truly use it. Dumb!
I ought to notice that there’s a second dump station within the park however outdoors the campground. It’s on the primary park street and is named Canyon dump station (you’ll see the indicators). That is presumably for customers of all the opposite campgrounds in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, none of which have their very own dump station. One other various is situated on the fuel station on Freeway 40 about 12km north of the park entrance.
Ingesting water for filling RV tanks can be obtainable on the dump station for these tenting in un-serviced websites.
Talking of lacking facilities, one other absentee at Boulton Creek is a playground. I perceive that the main target of Kananaskis is outside journey and exploring nature, however a big playground could be a welcome exercise for teenagers unable to take part in lengthy excursions or ready for meals to be prepped and cleaned up. The campground is decidedly family-oriented (have I discussed the ice cream but?) and there’s loads of area to put in an elaborate playground. This strikes me as a calculated misstep.
Likewise, the abandonment of the Boulton Creek campground amphitheatre is unlucky. And I do imply abandonment. Vegetation are encroaching on the benches indicating this facility hasn’t been utilized in a few years. A poster affixed to the stage states all interpretive applications are carried out on the Elkwood campground amphitheatre.
That is undoubtedly a cost-saving measure. We visited the Elkwood amphitheatre and it’s a lot bigger and elaborate. It isn’t stunning that it was chosen between the 2. However it’s also 8+ kilometres from Boulton Creek campground making it a distasteful stroll and fewer than fascinating bike journey, particularly with younger youngsters. Boulton Creek campers are both going to drive or skip the interpretive applications altogether, which is a disgrace.
Since I’m on a roll complaining, I would as nicely point out the shortage of recent communication obtainable at Boulton Creek campground. Kananaskis Nation is infamous for having non-existent cell service all through a lot of its territory. That is seen as a perk to many and it does provide an enviable escape from our fixed notification tradition. However the Buying and selling Put up, a bustling hub for the numerous campgrounds in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, has no WiFi both. There’s a Telus telephone sales space obtainable for emergencies and nostalgia sake. I, although, would have most popular a WiFi hotspot on the Buying and selling Put up to present campers no less than some choice for communication with the larger world.
Past that oversight, the Boulton Creek Buying and selling Put up is a formidable neighborhood and retail hub for actions each in Boulton Creek campground and the park at massive. The shop has every little thing together with meals, tenting equipment, souvenirs, treats, and ice all on the anticipated inflated costs. It’s the most important collection of all objects I’ve seen at a campground retailer in a very long time. Even full-size propane bottles!
Firewood can be offered right here within the typical bundles discovered at most Alberta parks. I truthfully don’t bear in mind the worth however it wasn’t out of line with what we’ve paid elsewhere. The wooden is first rate and makes a advantageous, s’mores-worthy fireplace. I think about some of us carry their very own wooden.
Contained in the Buying and selling Put up can be the place you register for tenting. Oddly sufficient, as you make your method up the street to your campsite you’ll move an deserted registration kiosk harkening again to a time when public providers weren’t as reviled.
Now for a very powerful attraction at Boulton Creek campground. Hooked up to the buying and selling submit is an ice cream store. There’s a modest café as nicely, however ICE CREAM! A number of flavours of scrumptious, onerous ice cream can be found, and we loved each cone we purchased. Sure, that’s plural.
Right here’s a life hack. Out in these components, proprietors don’t intend to hold inventory over the lengthy winters. So, whereas the shop was having a sale on just about every little thing (principally the costs have been lowered to what they might be in a daily grocery retailer), the ice cream store was supplying you with double the worth. The children’ cones we ordered ended up being singles whereas the singles my spouse and I ordered ended up being doubles, and so forth. Nice, surprising worth and one thing to remember when reserving future tenting journeys … Labour Day is superior!
As for the café, it might need been a much bigger concern at one time however now it’s little greater than a restricted concession stand. They offered scorching canine and a few baked good, additionally espresso (I feel). In any other case, the café is extra of a service desk for the rental on-site rental enterprise.
That is one thing I’ve by no means seen at a campground retailer complicated earlier than. Giant nationwide parks with complete cities inside, like Banff, for instance, have myriad shops promoting all kinds of outside gear however I didn’t anticipate finding a scaled down model right here. You possibly can lease canoes, kayaks, bicycles, and even curler blades to make use of all through the park.
In addition they promote an assortment of sporting gear like life jackets, water bottles, and even climbing gear. Costs aren’t low-cost, thoughts you. Canoe leases have been double the fee we’ve seen at nationwide parks however I believe demand right here is excessive.
One other advantage of tenting right here throughout Labour Day weekend was that a lot of the rental inventory was obtainable for buy. Equally, the retail inventory was decreased in value. Canoes and Bicycles, high quality model title stuff not like what I purchase at Canadian Tire, might be purchased at presumably discounted costs assuming you had the means to move them house with you.
Whereas the shop itself might have been a shock, the demand for rental gear was not. Trails abound in these components, winding by the campground and out into the wilderness surrounding it. There are cycle trails which have been paved and have strains down the center like miniature highways. Different trails are gravel and graded, ideally suited for foot visitors. For the intense hiker, for much longer trails will take you deep into Kananaskis again nation.
The 2 lakes round which all of the campgrounds huddle, gives calm, blue waters on which to boat. However they’re mountain lakes. The water is chilly and storms can roll in with little warning. Alberta Parks recommends solely skilled paddlers canoe/kayak in them (or any rivers).
Motorized boats are additionally allowed, with pace limits, and every lake hosts a ship launch (sorry, no photos).
The climate was sketchy throughout our keep, with rain rolling in a pair occasions. This restricted our already modest need to go on an extended hike. There are dozens of beautiful locations to hike to, however we selected to remain near our RV house base. Fortunately, even homebodies will discover heaps to take pleasure in round Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
Our largest journey was trying to find a geocache mentioned to be situated out within the woods behind Loops B and C. The map confirmed Whiskey Jack path supplied , groomed place to begin for this journey so we headed out one morning below cool however clear skies, paying no thoughts to the rains that had fallen earlier. That was a mistake.
Regardless of our helpful GPS, the path to this geocache turned exploratory in a rush. We quickly discovered ourselves breaking path by virgin woods, ultimately needing to cross a wetland space. We did our greatest to avoid the water, hopping from grass mound to tree stump, however ultimately all 4 of us have been saddled with completely soaked footwear and sad ft. Not enjoyable!
We stumbled upon some kind of flightless fowl which momentarily lightened our temper and we did lastly discover the geocache, although the reward was uninspired. We trudged our method again to the campsite having been gone far longer than anticipated and
turning into a lot wetter than desired. As soon as we arrived and gleefully eliminated our moist boots, I discovered myself wishing greater than ever that Boulton Creek campground had a laundromat. I had solely introduced my mountaineering sneakers and a pair of rubber boots. I desired very a lot to stay my sneakers in a dryer somewhat than put on my big, black clodhoppers for the rest of our keep, although I did make fairly the impression across the firepit.
One other geocache is situated on the Buying and selling Put up. THAT was a sneaky bugger to seek out. We hunted throughout the constructing as bewildered strangers watched our not-so-discreet antics. Finally I discovered it, a lot to our collective aid.
Earlier, when ft have been happier, we explored the facilities of the park, notably the Discovery Centre. Positioned near the doorway from Freeway 40, the customer/info centre at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is superior. Simply the perfect one we’ve but seen at an Alberta provincial park.
This place is straight out of Parks Canada’s playbook. Park workers handle the primary desk offering service and steering to each long run guests and day customers. This place is important for these heading out to again nation for sightseeing and/or tenting. Maps and a few mountaineering gear can be found for buy and up-to-date exercise info is posted on a wall.
Simply half the constructing is devoted to interactive science shows instructing concerning the wildlife, historical past, anthropology, and geology of this area in addition to better Alberta. I really like these instructional installations, as do my youngsters, and these have been very cool even when a couple of weren’t working. I’m not an enormous fan of taxidermy, however many stuffed animals are on show giving metropolis folks like me a greater understanding of the scale of mountain predators.
A big theatre exhibits park-centric movies by request solely. We didn’t request any. I’m unsure why they don’t have a daily schedule of showings as is typical at most customer centres.
An enormous lounge space highlighted by a powerful stone hearth and towering home windows gives unfettered views of the beautiful, close by mountains. Sadly, whereas we have been there it was cloudy and we didn’t see a lot.
On the brilliant facet, there’s free WiFi on the discovery centre. YAY! The one place within the park you may get it and nonetheless no cell service, you’ll no less than have the ability to test your electronic mail and possibly submit an Instagram shot of one thing fairly. It’s not the best WiFi connection however higher than the nothing discovered all over the place else in Peter Lougheed park.
With a lot supplied on the Discovery Centre, mixed with the bigger than regular retailer on the Buying and selling Put up, I used to be a bit stunned by the lackluster reward store. A lot to my son’s chagrin, there have been solely a small collection of branded outdoorsy objects on the market on a freestanding shelving unit. I truthfully anticipated extra.
The Decrease Lake day use space was the primary pure space we hit up for exploring. It’s an odd spot. There’s parking and a pit bathroom, a few tables however in any other case, it’s simply an open, hummocky subject on the jap shore of Decrease Kananaskis Lake. There’s a small boat launch current, however you wouldn’t launch something greater than a canoe or kayak from it imho.
Don’t let the blasé rapid environment deter you from visiting right here. The views throughout the lake are unimaginable. And for those who’re avid rockhounds like us, there’s loads of rocky shoreline to discover with a number of fossilized boulders to find.
Subsequent we visited the Interlakes space, a slim strip of sloping land separating Higher Kananaskis Lake from Decrease. The connecting waterway between the 2 lakes has been damned with an influence technology plant. It is a in style fishing spot as I assume the fish like to hang around across the energy plant outlet. Fishing is forbidden within the waters instantly outdoors the plant, however alongside the shore to every facet it’s honest recreation and several other fisherfolk have been plying their strains hoping to catch supper.
We didn’t carry our fishing gear so as an alternative we once more searched the rocky shores for cool stones so as to add to our assortment. In doing so, we additionally discovered dozens of torpid bees making an attempt to get the final drops of pollen from purple flowers of withering vegetation. Usually there have been a number of on particular person flowers.
As we have been leaving the decrease portion of the day use space, we famous that people had stopped their vehicles in the midst of the street as if one thing. Certain sufficient, on the sloping hillside a black bear was snooping across the shrubs. We had the chance to take some magnificent images of this bear however didn’t as a result of I didn’t have the right lens on my rattling digital camera. By the point I switched it out, the bear was shifting additional uphill and refused to show round, so I solely managed photographs of his/her ass.
Curiously, the bear was making its technique to the Higher Lake day use space parking zone. That is the place we have been headed subsequent and we have been mischievously questioning how many individuals could be spooked when the bear popped his head out from the timber. By the point we made it up the street and located parking, we couldn’t see him and thus turned our consideration to exploring across the dam and lake.
As soon as once more, the views have been inspiring, regardless of the overcast skies. Fossil Falls might be seen within the distance tumbling down the mountainside. You possibly can hike to those falls, however it’s an extended and troublesome one. The views are mentioned to be unforgettable and I can nicely think about they’re.
We spent our time enjoying amongst the rocks and driftwood alongside the north facet of the lake. Folks have created a pair driftwood forts which the youngsters loved enjoying in and renovating. It is a busier spot than the others we visited however we nonetheless discovered the liberty to take pleasure in ourselves in solitude. Many of the automobiles will need to have belonged to hikers.
If one factor turned abundantly clear throughout our weekend it’s that we completely should come again to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. We skilled solely a touch of what this superb park has to supply. I’m embarrassed we didn’t learn about it sooner. This positively ought to have been one of many first locations we ever camped at method again once we first purchased a trailer.
Our thorough enjoyment of our keep at Boulton Creek campground was solely furthered by the hit or miss climate. With rain dampening the expertise for brief durations every day, many Albertans merely stayed house. Whomever had reserved the websites to both facet of us by no means confirmed up giving us an excellent better feeling of privateness. I don’t perceive why folks don’t cancel in the event that they don’t have any intention of exhibiting up, FCFS campers might need favored the areas, however I used to be completely satisfied as a clam to be neighbourless.
Oh, and the skies. That first evening it was so ridiculously black. I feel it was on account of cloud cowl this time, however even clear skies with a brand new moon could be gloriously darkish. Mixed with the silence afforded us by absent neighbours, our evenings across the campfire have been magical. I’m getting chills simply reminiscing about it. That is definitely not one thing you anticipate from a bustling vacation spot.
But, all will not be excellent in our fashionable world. Being solely an hour and a half faraway from a significant Canadian metropolis means artifical intrusions are inevitable. Working example, a flightpath from Calgary airport heading west lies instantly overhead. All delusions of seclusion evaporated as these jets handed by above us, momentarily killing the fantasy.
The identical will be mentioned, I suppose, of the personal cottages discovered alongside the east facet of Decrease Kananaskis Lake. I’m no fan of those current in any park, particularly these days when cabins have been remodeled into second houses for the rich. I imply, if you wish to be in a home that badly, keep house! Cabins ought to be, nicely, cabins. All rustic and such. At the very least these weren’t readily seen throughout our adventures.
Nonetheless, the birds and chipmunks and, sure, mosquitoes (they weren’t insufferable) saved our minds firmly planted in nature. What extra can one ask for.
Not surprisingly, I extremely suggest tenting in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. I nonetheless can’t consider I didn’t learn about it. My god, I’m a goof. As for Boulton Creek campground, I give it 4.25 Child Dill Pickles out of 5. It’s a spacious, sheltered, beautiful campground, excellent for households or solitary adventurers alike. The Buying and selling Put up and central location inside the park make it an important spot for tenting, particularly in order for you the scheduling comfort of reservations. Nevertheless it might actually use a playground. And golly, these pit bogs have been rank on the finish of the summer season. In any other case, I’d have given it an ideal 5.