If you’re looking for an amazing camping experience this summer, visit Alberta’s newest provincial park, Castle Provincial Park!
There are four excellent, but basic campgrounds are available at Beaver Mines Lake, Castle Bridge, Castle Falls and Lynx Creek. These have fire pits, vault toilets, garbage services and well graveled roads and camping pads. Recent investments this spring have improved pad size and most are rather spacious with privacy between sites. These are first-come, first-served sites. You fill out a permit and pay when you arrive.
Castle Provincial Park is also an ideal destination for campers looking for a more rugged experience, and if this is the direction you decide to go, there are a few things you need to know!
The random camping experience has been enabled this year through designation of camping areas 1-9 along the road corridors, but you’ll need to have a valid camping permit. A permit ensures staff and emergency responders know where you are in the park in case of an emergency, like a fire, flood or if you injure yourself. A camping permit is required before you set up your campsite. You can download one at albertaparks.ca/castle or pick one up at self-serve kiosks or retailers. The permits for camping areas 1-9 are free this year, but there are currently few amenities and access is rough and undeveloped. Garbage receptacles and toilets will be made available in limited locations.
Congratulations! You have secured your camping permit. So what’s next?
Make sure you set up camp within approved areas, which are marked on the map (you can see the map here: http://www.albertaparks.ca/media/6494062/castle-prov-park-brochure.pdf). The camping area you select must be an open, grassy area or previously disturbed—no new disturbances are permitted and you cannot remove or alter vegetation. Wood may not be cut within these designated camping areas.
If you plan on using your OHV, they are permitted only on signed and designated trails. And remember, it’s now mandatory to wear a helmet while operating an OHV on public land or you could be fined $155!
The Castle area is an important habitat for wildlife such as grizzly and black bears, the federally-protected westslope cutthroat trout, wolverines, wolves, cougars, moose and elk. It’s recommended that campers carry bear spray and know how to properly use it. Most importantly, all food, garbage and scented items must be stored in bear-proof containers or secured in vehicles. You can brush up on your bear smarts here: http://aep.alberta.ca/recreation-public-use/alberta-bear-smart/default.aspx. Also, if you plan to bring your dog along with you, make sure you keep Fido on a leash, no more than two metres in length, at all times.
Thousands of people descend on the Castle area every summer to experience the spectacular wilderness through rustic camping. Ensuring that you have a valid camping permit and are following the regulations will help you get the most out of your Castle adventure!