RVwest Insider

Better camping, more tourism in Castle parks

Girl silhouetted against setting sun.
— Photo courtesy Travel Alberta / Jeff Bartlett

Albertans will have more opportunities for adventure this year as the province invests $3 million in capital upgrades in the Castle parks. Improvements will include new and improved family-friendly camping opportunities, trails, highly accessible front-country experiences and better access to the vast wilderness.

“Albertans have loved the Castle for generations. The region’s majestic landscapes are home to stunning mountains, rolling hills, montane forests and meadows. I’m pleased that through our capital funding commitment we can ensure families and visitors have an amazing and quality outdoors experience.” — Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

In addition to the capital funding, Travel Alberta is contributing to and leading a $400,000 advertising campaign to encourage local visitation and boost international tourism to the Castle region. The campaign follows a series of closures in Waterton Lakes National Park due to damage from last year’s wildfires in southern Alberta.

“The Castle region is ready and open for business. Working with Travel Alberta, Alberta Parks and tourism operators, we’ve developed a campaign to help raise awareness and encourage visitation. It’s another way we are assisting in the local tourism recovery effort. I encourage Albertans and visitors alike to get out and explore all the hidden gems the Castle region has to offer.  Get ready, there is so much to see and do.” — Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism

The tourism strategy will improve visitor access by paving Highway 774 south of Beaver Mines to Castle Mountain Resort and support the installation of water lines. Tourism signage on primary highways and wayfinding along travel routes through the Castle parks and region will also be installed this summer.

The Government of Alberta is also releasing the Castle Management Plan. The plan reflects input provided through extensive engagement and consultation with First Nations, stakeholders and Albertans. Protection of wildlife and headwaters, the respect of Indigenous rights and exceptional recreational experiences remain the primary management objectives of the parks.

“The Castle Management Plan provides great opportunities to enjoy this beautiful and diverse landscape. The Great Divide Trail is the world’s best wilderness long-distance hiking trail, starting on the U.S.-Canada border travelling northward to the newly formed Castle parks. We couldn’t be happier with the outcomes in the plan. It has provided clarity, assurance and opportunity for recreation users who love the quiet contemplation of wild nature, and a reduced footprint on this ecologically important area of Alberta.” — Dave Hockey, president, Great Divide Trail Association

“Equines and equine enthusiasts are an integral part of Alberta. The Alberta Equestrian Federation provides programs and services that cover a wide range of equestrian activities for beginners to experts in a multitude of disciplines. The Alberta Equestrian Federation is pleased to have participated in the public consultation process for Castle parks and we are excited about today’s announcement that facilitates equestrian use and enjoyment of this beautiful area.” — Jason Edworthy, director, Alberta Equestrian Federation 

“Castle parks is a prime destination for Albertans hitting the road for a weekend with their family. The Recreation Vehicle Dealers of Alberta are pleased that these announcements today will result in more Alberta locations for owners of RVs to enjoy the RV lifestyle experience and keep Albertans supporting the local economy.” — Dan Merkowsky, executive vice-president, RVDA of Alberta

“United Riders of Crowsnest Club is very enthusiastic about Alberta Parks’ plan for recreational trail development in the Castle provincial parks. A new ‘Epic’ mountain biking trail, linked to the communities of Crowsnest Pass and existing trails, will provide a great draw for mountain bikers. We look forward to sharing our spectacular scenery and trails as the Castle parks and Crowsnest area are increasingly recognized as a great outdoor recreational destination.” — Jim Lucas, trails coordinator, United Riders of Crowsnest

Albertans won’t have to wait long to see changes to the new parks. A variety of small-scale infrastructure developments will be implemented to support the visitor experience, including improved camping amenities, trailhead parking, equestrian facilities and backcountry campsites.

2018 improvements in the Castle Parks

  • Twelve new campsites in Lynx Creek, each with a new fire pit, picnic table, washroom facility and garbage receptacle.
  • Nine improved rustic camping areas with space for over 150 camping units, each with a fire pit.
  • Two new warm-up huts with seating for 12, each including a wood stove, open at the Syncline South Staging area and Beaver Mines Lake Boat Launch.
  • Five new comfort cabins installed at Beaver Mines Lake; each includes sleeping space for four.
  • Trail improvements including water crossings, debris-clearing and hazard tree removal at Table Mountain, Grizzly Lake and Barnaby.
  • Improvements to backcountry campsites at Grizzly Lake, Southforks/Barnaby Lake and Bovin Lake.
  • Installation of new wayfinding signage, including 14 kiosks throughout the park to post trail and park details, and emergency contact information.                                                               

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