Written by Karen Ung
Where to play outside in Camrose, Hardisty, Killam, and Wainwright, Alberta this summer
Discover outdoor fun in East Central Alberta this summer! The friendly communities of Camrose, Wainwright, Hardisty, and Killam offer a wide range of outdoor activities from fishing and paddling to biking and bird watching.
Sunlight sparkles on the water at Camrose Nature Conservation Centre, and a light breeze ruffles our hair. Children chase each other around the playground while their parents barbecue burgers in the gazebo, and paddlers ply the waters.
“Is that a swan?!” my youngest asks, excitedly pointing across the pond. We take the trail past the scuba diving dock to get a closer look and discover it’s a pelican! With powerful strokes of its flipper-like feet, it quickly makes its way around a little island covered in Canada geese. Most likely it’s looking for lunch; the pond is stocked with rainbow trout.
Camrose Nature Conservation Centre beautifully demonstrates what can be done with an old gravel quarry. The 37-acre park boasts a pond, walking trails, boat launch (non-motorized only), playground, gazebo, fire pits, picnic areas, and scuba diving. Paddle, picnic, and birdwatch; several species of birds have been spotted in the park!
More parks and trails to explore in and around the beautiful city of Camrose include:
- Mirror Lake Park: Walk the 3 km lake loop or paddle around the lake (no inflatables), then have a picnic under tall trees and cool off with an ice cream from OleO’s Ice Cream Castle. 6001 50 Ave
- Camrose Heritage Railway Station & Park: Take a guided or self-guided Heritage Flower Tour of the 12 gardens, then explore the historic CN train station and enjoy tea and cakes in the Tea Room. The Station & Park are open Tuesday to Saturday, and the Tearoom is open Saturdays in July & August from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 4407 47 Ave
- Stoney Creek Valley: Walk or bike the lovely 4.1 km paved trail through the valley. Highlights include The Grand Trunk Wooden Trestle Railway Bridge, Stoney Creek Disc Golf Course, and Stoney Creek Nature Playground. Wanna go further? There are 37 km of trails to explore! 5320 39 Ave
- Pleasure Island Fish Pond: With 10 fishing stations to choose from along the 644 metre long lake trail, you can find the perfect spot to try for rainbow and brown trout. The pond is stocked twice a year! While you wait for a bite, watch birds come and go from birdhouses around the pond. 10 minutes southeast of Camrose
- Miquelon Lake Provincial Park: With lots of trails and large, spacious campsites and interpretive programs, Miquelon is a fun camping spot near Camrose. While it isn’t a swimming lake, you can paddle here or play on the sandy beach. Look for beavers and birds at the Grebe Ponds, and look up after dark; you’re in a Dark Sky Preserve! You can also bike the paved 3.7 km bike path. 27 minutes north of Camrose
- Pelican Point Park: Splash in the warm water of Buffalo Lake and play at the sandy beach! Boating and fishing are popular activities here, and kids will love the big playground on the beach. 48 minutes south of Camrose
Bonus: Stop at Meeting Creek to visit the 1913 Heritage Railway Station and a 1917 grain elevator set in a picturesque valley.
Hardisty Lake Park is a hub of activity in summer, when locals and visitors head to the manmade lake for swimming, beach time, and boating. With a sandy beach, covered picnic area, playground, campground with affordable power and water sites, and 9-hole golf course (Lakeview Golf Course), you can stay for the day, or the weekend! And if you need a cold treat, the campground office sells ice cream.
Hardisty also has several nature trails. For the best views, park east of the Hwy 881 overpass and walk along the Battle River. Bring your fishing rod; the river is home to walleye, pike, and goldeye.
In mid July, don’t miss the Hardisty Rodeo, “A Buckin’ Good Time!” Highlights include a pancake breakfast, parade, Street Fair & Car Show, Rodeo, Chariot & Chuckwagon Races, Combine Crunch, outdoor dance, and Saturday night fireworks. July 14-16, 2023
Stretch your legs in the charming town of Killam, located about halfway between Camrose and Wainwright. Heritage Park’s playground and skate park are fun for kids, and you can see several species of birds along the 2.5 km nature trail through the wetlands. Interpretive panels describe the plants and animals that live here.
Centennial Park Campground has serviced and unserviced campsites if you’d like to stay a while.
Wainwright offers a wide range of outdoor activities from fishing and golf, to one of Canada’s largest rodeos.
At Battle River Trestle Bridge (also known as Fabyan Trestle Bridge) viewpoint, we hear a train whistle in the distance and get our cameras ready. This is what we’ve been waiting for; a shot of a train crossing Canada’s second longest steel trestle bridge. Built in 1908, the picturesque Battle River Trestle spans 846 metres and stands 59 metres tall. As the train clickety-clacks across the tracks, we snap away and watch the engines get smaller and smaller in the distance.
Continuing east, past deer grazing in a farmer’s field, we stop at Petroleum Park to see one of Alberta’s first pump jacks. To our surprise, British Petroleum #B3 Pump Jack, built in 1923, is made mostly of wood!
The next day, we watch the Wainwright Stampede Parade on historic Main Street, and rodeo at the Wainwright Stampede. We cheer as national rodeo champions and newcomers alike compete in calf roping, bull riding, steer wrestling, and more; and hold our breath as daring trick riders hang upside down and hop off and on galloping horses. Later, we hit the Midway, get some mini donuts, and cool off at Rotary Spray Park for the perfect fun-filled day.
More outdoor activities in the Wainwright area include the following:
- Bevan’s Park and Nature Area has forested urban trails and a large playground near Rotary Spray Park. 1800-8 Avenue (street parking)
- Peace Memorial Park & Rotary Skatepark has a skatepark, playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, and ball diamonds. 733 5th Avenue.
- Wainwright Golf Club has an 18-hole, 6,400 yard golf course; restaurant; RV Park (inquire about their Play & Stay package!); and virtual golf simulators. 1505 – 2 Street.
- Bud Cotton Bison Paddock has over two dozen bison and is named for Canada’s first buffalo warden. Look for bison from the parking lot or pathway along 1st Street. 1st Street & 4th Avenue, near CFB Wainwright.
- Fishing: Try Wallace Park Pond (stocked with rainbow trout), Battle River (pike and walleye), Arm Lake (pike), or Clear Lake (walleye and pike).
- Mini golf at Riverdale Mini-Park is fun for the whole family! They also have an 18-hole golf course, campground, cafe, and riverside beach. 19 km north of Wainwright on Highway 41.
- Explore the Wainwright Wildlife Society’s Recreational Trail System (6 km of trails) east of Riverdale Campground at the end of Battle River Road. The scenic riverside trails are perfect for hiking, or mountain biking.
- Arm Lake Recreation Area has a sandy beach, campground with power and power/water sites near the lake, a golf course, clubhouse & cafe, and playground. The shallow, warm water is suitable for swimming and paddling. 30 kilometres from Wainwright.
- Clear Lake is a popular boating and scuba diving spot near Wainwright. 26 kilometres from Wainwright.
From Camrose Nature Conservation Centre to Arm Lake Recreation Area, East Central Alberta offers outdoor fun for everyone. With ample trails and fishing holes, and affordable golf and camping, it’s easy to enjoy the outdoors in Camrose, Wainwright, Hardisty, and Killam. Start planning your East Central Alberta getaway today!