Canadian Aspen Forests and Parklands, Part 2

Provincial and Local sites in the Canadian Aspen Forests and Parklands ecoregion subsection are described below. They are generally organized according to the river drainages that cross this grassland transition ecoregion. From north to south, these are the North Saskatchewan River (Edmonton area), Battle River (Wetaskiwin area), Red Deer River, and Bow River (Calgary area). The following are previously described sites included in nationally designated areas. Beaverhill Lake Heritage Rangeland and Beaverhill Natural Area are described under Ramsar sites. Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, North Cooking Lake Natural Area, Miquelon Lake Provincial Park, and Parkland Natural Area are described under Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve.

North Saskatchewan River Area

University of Alberta Botanic Garden (N53ᵒ24’ W113ᵒ45’) is 240 acres located 5 km north of Devon on Route 60. There is an extensive trail system, a Japanese garden, alpine garden, and native people’s garden.

Boisvert’s Green Woods Conservation Lands (N53⁰52’ W113⁰34’) are 80 acres which appear as an island of forest in an agricultural landscape near Morinville. The site is managed by the Edmonton and Area Land Trust.

Coates Conservation Lands (N53⁰19’ W113⁰57’) are 80 acres near Calmar. The parkland forest of aspen, poplar, birch, and spruce are on Willow Creek, reached from Range Road 280 off Township Road 502. The site is also known for its dinosaur fossils of hadrosaur footprints and Albertosaurus skin impressions and bones. The site is managed by the Edmonton and Area Land Trust.

Fort Edmonton City Park (N53˚30’ W113˚35’) is a living history park operated by the City of Edmonton. The reconstructed 1846 fort is on the Saskatchewan River at Route 2. The park also contains living history exhibits for the Settlement Era (1885), Municipal Era (1905), and Metropolitan Era (1920). Adjacent is the John Janzen Nature Centre.

Gallagher Park, City of Edmonton (N53⁰32’ W113⁰29’) is part of the river park system along the North Saskatchewan River. The Muttert Botanical Garden Conservancy, with striking glass pyramids, is adjacent.

Genesee Natural Area (N53⁰21’ W114⁰24’) is 179 ha on the North Saskatchewan River, featuring aspen-dominated forest and deer and moose habitat.

George Lake Natural Area consists of two tracts (north tract N53ᵒ58’ W114ᵒ6’; south tract N53ᵒ55’ W114ᵒ7’) totaling 129 ha in area. It is an aspen forest area on Range Road 15 south of Route 651.

Glory Hills Conservation Lands (N53⁰38’ W114⁰1’) are 110 acres of dense aspen forest and open grassland near Stony Plain. The site is reached by turning off Route 779 on Township Road 540. The site is managed by the Edmonton and Area Land Trust.

Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park (N53⁰36’ W113⁰41’) is 1,800 ha including Big Lake and its shoreline southwest of St. Albert. Trails connect with the Red Willow Trail System of the city of St. Albert. There is a boardwalk through emergent wetlands on the east shore—the John E. Poole Wetland. Big Lake is an Important Bird Area for nesting Franklin’s gulls, waterfowl such as ducks and tundra swans, and shorebirds.

Isle Lake Natural Area (N53⁰37’ W114⁰43’) is 106 ha off He Ho Ha Road north of Route 16. Vegetation includes upland forest, reed grass wetlands, and larch muskeg.

Kakina Lake Natural Area (N53ᵒ51’ W114ᵒ12’) is 65 ha of a hummocky moraine with balsam-poplar forest. It is on Township Road 563a south of Nakamun Park and north of Route 43 at Onoway.

Father Lacombe Chapel Provincial Historic Site (N53⁰38’ W113⁰38’) is on St. Vital Avenue in St. Albert, off Route 2 northwest of Edmonton. The 1861 structure is Alberta’s oldest building, built to serve a French-speaking Metis settlement.

Larch Sanctuary (N53⁰27’ W113⁰33’) is 59 acres on 23rd Avenue in Edmonton. The site includes an oxbow lake and mixed forests on Whitemud Creek. The site is a project of the Edmonton and Area Land Trust.

Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary (N53ᵒ25’ W113ᵒ47’) is 348 acres of marshland, aspen parkland, and pine forest west of Route 60 on Range Road 264 (Sanctuary Road). It is owned by the Canadian Nature Federation. The provincial-owned Clifford E. Lee Natural Area is 11 ha adjacent to the site.

Louise McKinney Riverfront Park, City of Edmonton (N53⁰31’ W113⁰33’), is on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River in downtown Edmonton. It contains the Trans-Canada Trail Pavilion and is a link in the cross-Canada trail.

Mill Creek Ravine Park, City of Edmonton (N53⁰31’ W113⁰28’) contains a trail system between Conners Road and Argyll Road, which connects to the City’s River Park greenways.

Riverlot 56 Natural Area (N53⁰40’ W113⁰35’) is north of St. Albert. The 108-ha aspen forested area is connected to the St. Albert trail system.

Rutherford House Provincial Historic Site (N53⁰32’ W113⁰31’) is on Saskatchewan Drive in Edmonton near the University of Alberta. The 1911 brick mansion was built by the first premier of Alberta.

Sherwood Park Natural Area (N53⁰28’ W113⁰17’) is 68 ha on Range Road 231 south of Township Road 522 (Whitemud Freeway). A 2.7-km loop trail winds through an aspen forest and willow sedge wetlands. The area is administered by Strathcona County.

Strathcona Science Provincial Park (N53⁰34’ W113⁰22’) is a 109-ha ski area along the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton. A bridge connects the park with Edmonton’s River Valley Trail, which is part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Terwillegar Park, City of Edmonton (N53⁰29’ W113⁰37’0, is 186 ha along the North Saskatchewan River and the southernmost of the River Valley Parks, part of the Trans-Canada Trail system.

Thorsby Natural Area (N53ᵒ17’ W114ᵒ6’) is 65 ha of flats, floodplains, and meander scars associated with Strawberry Creek south of the North Saskatchewan River. Access is via Route 622. Uplands are a dense aspen and white spruce forest.

Wagner Natural Area (N53⁰33’ W113⁰51’) is 219 ha known for orchids and carnivorous plants. These rare plants grow in calcium-rich, spring-fed wetlands. The Marl Pond Trail passes by some of these features. The natural area is south of Route 16 at the Route 44 interchange, east of Spruce Grove.

White Earth Valley Natural Area (N54⁰22’ W112⁰44’) is 2,055 ha of marshes and wildflower-covered hillsides and meadows. The 17-km White Earth Trail traverses the park, with a trailhead in Long Lake Provincial Park.

Whitemud Park and Whitemud Ravine Park, City of Edmonton (N53⁰29’ W113⁰35’) are part of the river park trail system along the North Saskatchewan River. Whitemud Park includes an equine trail and the ravine park has a trail system south of Fox Drive.

Whitford Lake (N53⁰51’ W112⁰15’) and Rush Lake (N53⁰49’ W112⁰12’) are a 6,905-ha combined Important Bird Area east of Andrew and south of Route 45. An area on the south side of Whitford Lake is owned by the Alberta Conservation Association. Both lakes are a staging area for waterfowl. Western grebe, eared grebe, and Franklin’s gull find nesting habitat on the lakes.

Battle River Area

Bearhills Lake (N52⁰56’ W113⁰37’), is a duck staging area and Important Bird Area 13 km west of Wetaskiwin and southeast of the junction of Routes 2 and 13. The habitat improvement is via a Ducks Unlimited Canada project.

Big Knife Provincial Park (N52⁰29’ W112⁰13’) is 295 ha off Route 855 south of Forestburg. There are trails along the Battle River and to hoodoos.

Coal Lake North Provincial Recreation Area (N53⁰8’ W113⁰22’) is a 6-ha day-use area on Route 616 at Cloverlawn.

J.J. Collett Natural Area (N52⁰34’ W113⁰39’) is a 635-ha tract of aspen parkland over sand dunes east of Route 2. It is managed by the J.J. Collett Natural Area Foundation (, which maintains 18 km of trails. The entrance is on Township Road 414 east of Morningside.

Magee Lake Natural Area (N52⁰34’ W113⁰25’) is 65 ha of aspen-covered uplands with wetlands, linked to the Chain Lakes drainage system.

Pipestone Creek Conservation Lands (N53⁰1’ W113⁰15’) are 104 acres near Coal Lake on Range Road 231. The spruce and aspen parklands mixed with grassland are preserved by the Edmonton and Area Land Trust.

Wavy Lake (N52⁰52’ W112⁰4’) is a 4,000-ha provincially owned duck staging area and Important Bird Area noted for greater white-fronted geese, snow geese, and sandhill cranes. It is east of Daysland and north of Route 3.

Red Deer River Area

Aspen Beach Provincial Park (N52⁰28’ W113⁰59’) is 214 ha on Route 12 at Gull Lake. Trails wind among the forests and campground areas. Ski trails are maintained in winter.

Buffalo Lake Moraine Conservation Area (N52⁰30’ W112⁰43’) is 1,120 acres on Route 56. There is an interpretive walking trail and spring on the property, managed by the Alberta Conservation Association.

Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation Area (N52⁰31’ W112⁰47’) is on Boss Hill on the east side of Buffalo Lake. The 2-ha site provides viewing area for waterfowl and shorebirds, and hosts a campground.

Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park is 1,598 ha in two tracts on the Red Deer River. The day-use area (N51°57’ W112°57’) with the flat-topped mesa and buffalo jump cliffs rising 200 m above the river is east of Route 21 at Huxley. Also part of the park are the Tolman Campgrounds (N51°50’ W113°0’) on Route 585 at the Red Deer River crossing. The Red Deer River canoe route passes the park and extends from the Route 21 Content Bridge downstream to Dinosaur Provincial Park, a distance over 240 km.

Ewing Lake (N52⁰19’ W112⁰53), Erskine Lake, Goose Lake, Postill Lake, and Shuckburgh Slough (N52⁰19’ W112⁰45’) together make up an Important Bird Area southwest of Stettler. These lakes and marshes are a waterfowl staging area and are used by marsh birds.

Gadsby Lake Natural Area (N52⁰31’ W113⁰17’) is 65 ha of hummocky moraine topography with an aspen-balsam poplar-paper birch forest.

Glennifer Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area (N52°1’ W114°17’) is south of Dickson and west of Innisfail on the Red Deer River. There are six lakeside tracts for a total of 137 ha. The Cottonwood area (N52⁰0’ W114⁰19’) includes picnic sites on Township Road 352 on the reservoir shoreline. The Dickson Point area (N52⁰1’ W114⁰18’) is on the north shore and offers camping and hiking and a rainbow trout pond. The North Dyke Campground (N52⁰2’ W114⁰16’) provides hiking and mountain bike facilities on Range road 225 south of Route 54. The South Dyke Campground is a hiking and mountain biking area on Route 590 west of Innisfail. In the dam area North Valley and South Valley day use areas (N52⁰3’ W114⁰13’) are on the Red Deer River off of Township Roads 360 and 360a. The reservoir is operated by the Ministry of Environment and Water and there is a 15-MW hydroelectric facility.

Heatburg Natural Area (N52⁰19’ W113⁰7’) is 32 ha off Routes 21 and 11 west of Nevis. There are badlands along the Red Deer River and upland aspen and sedge-grass vegetation.

Innisfail Natural Area (N52°2’ W113°46’), is 64 ha on Route 590 east of Innisfail. Vegetation consists of upland poplar and meadows.

Jarvis Bay Provincial Park (N52⁰21’ W114⁰5’) is an 86-ha camping park on Sylvan Lake, on Route 20 north of the town of Sylvan Lake.

Markerville Natural Area (N52°5’ W114°9’) is 52 ha of balsam poplar and willow in the floodplain of the Red Deer River, south of Route 54 west of Innisfail.

Medicine Lodge Hills Natural Area (N52⁰29’ W114⁰18’) is 65 ha north of Route 12 on Range Road 31. The steeply rolling topography includes important ungulate habitat, and aspen and paper birch vegetation.

The Narrows Provincial Recreation Area (N52⁰27’ W113⁰3’) is 24 ha of shoreline reeds on the west side of Buffalo Lake. The site is known for yellow lady slipper orchids.

Fort Normandeau (N52⁰16’ W113⁰53’) is a City of Red Deer historic site at the end of Township Road 382. It interprets the Red Deer Crossing, an important point on the road from Edmonton to Calgary.

Red Lodge Provincial Park (N51°57’ W114°14’) is a 129-ha site on the Red Deer River west of Bowden on Route 587.

Rochon Sands Provincial Park (N52⁰28’ W112⁰53’) is 119 ha on the south shore of Buffalo Lake, operated by the village of Rochon Sands. Buffalo Lake is noted as a birdwatching area with waterfowl on the lake the main attraction.

Rumsey Ecological Reserve (N51⁰57’ W112⁰40’) is 3,432 ha east of Route 56 and south of Route 589. The area is the last remaining undisturbed aspen parkland in Alberta. Topography is knob and kettle, also known as hummocky moraine.

Snakes Head Natural Area (N51°51’ W114°37’) is a floodplain forest with aspen and balsam poplar downstream from Sundre on the Red Deer River.

Stephansson House Provincial Historic Site (N52°10’ W114°12’) is on Township Road 371 west of Range Road 22 north of Markerville. This site was the home of Stephan G. Stephansson from 1889 to 1927, the poet of the Rockies and considered to be the greatest poet in the western world. Stephansson was a full-time farmer and wrote at night after work. The poems were written in Icelandic and are mostly unknown to English-centric readers.

Sundre North Natural Area (N51°49’ W114°37’) is 10 ha of shrubland, floodplain, aspen, poplar, and spruce along the Red Deer River downstream of Sundre.

Tolman Badlands Heritage Rangeland Natural Area is 5,945 ha in five tracts along the Red Deer River downstream of Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park. Three tracts are in the Canadian Aspen Forests and Parklands ecoregion; one is north of Route 585 (N51°53’ W113°0’), and two are south of Route 585 (N51°50’ W113°2’) and (N51°47’ W112°58’).

Bow River Area

Bearspaw Dam (N51⁰6’ W114⁰17’) is a 17-Megawatt hydroelectric facility operated by TransAlta on the Bow River just west of Calgary on Bearspaw Dam Road.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park (N51°15’ W114°23’) is a 32-ha park featuring a large spring with waterfalls on rocky terraces. It is off Route 567 northeast of Cochrane.

Chain Lakes Provincial Park (N50°12’ W114°11’) is 409 ha of willow and open grassland habitats, along with hiking trails and camping areas. It is on Route 22 south of Bar U Ranch National Historic Site.

Cochrane Historic Ranche, Town of Cochrane (N51⁰12’ W114⁰28’), is the site of Alberta’s first large-scale livestock operation, dating to 1881. Interpretive displays and a trail are on-site. It is off Route 22 north of the junction with Route 1A.

Emerson Creek Natural Area (N50°25’ W114°24’) is 194 ha at the ecological transition zone from the Rocky Mountains to grasslands, with limber pine on the ridgetops and grassland and aspen on Emerson Creek.

Fish Creek Provincial Park (N51°10’ W114°22’) is 1,356 ha in southern portion of the Calgary urban area along Fish Creek and the Bow River. It is in the Alberta Aspen Forests and Parklands and Northern Mixed Grasslands ecoregions. Trails wind throughout the park. The Environmental Learning Center portion of the park on Fish Creek (N50°56’ W114°8’) is in the Alberta Aspen Forests and Parklands ecoregion.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park (N51°10’ W114°22’) is a 1,300-ha park between Calgary and Cochrane on the Bow River. The day-use area, operated as a working ranch by the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation, contains trails through the prairie habitats. The trails in the park are part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Griffith Woods Park, City of Calgary (N51⁰1’ W114⁰13’) is 93 ha on Discovery Ridge Boulevard along the banks of the Elbow River, featuring a white spruce forest. A trail system is maintained.

Highwood Provincial Recreation Area group, Alberta, consists of 13 sites along Routes 40, 541, and 940 between Cataract Creek and Mist Creek. Most sites offer camping, picnicking, and hiking, with equestrian uses also at selected sites. One site in the Canadian Aspen Forests and Parkland ecoregion is the Greenford Provincial Recreation Area (N50°28’ W114°25’), 2 ha on the Highwood River adjacent to Route 541 as it leaves the Rocky Mountains.

Nose Hill Park, City of Calgary (N51⁰7’ W114⁰7’), is 1,129 ha of native grassland with vistas of the Rockies, Bow River Valley, and vast plains of Alberta. Glacial erratics are on site. Trails lead across the area.

OH Ranch Heritage Rangeland consists of two operating ranches partly under conservation easement and partly under public ownership.  Public ownership is 4,277 ha. The sites protect native grassland, aspen, and willow shrub ecosystems grazed by large native and introduced herbivores. The Longview Ranch site (N50°34’ W114°24’) is west of Longview on Route 22 and the Pekisko Ranch site (N50°28’ W114°18’) is north of Bar U Ranch National Historic Site.

Okotoks Erratic (N50⁰42’ W114⁰5’) is the largest known glacial erratic east of the Rockies. The quartzite rock weighs 16,500 tonnes and is off Route 7 and 48th Street southwest of Okotoks.

Sheep Creek Natural Area, Alberta (N50°43’ W114°8’) is a 5-ha riverine successional community in the Sheep River floodplain. It is north of Route 7 east of Black Diamond.

Threepoint Creek Natural Area (N50°44’ W114°12’), is 52 ha at the confluence of the Sheep River and Threepoint Creek. It is north of Route 7 east of Black Diamond.

Twelve Mile Coulee Park, City of Calgary (N51⁰7’ W114⁰14’), is 190 ha of grassland and shrub vegetation along Tuscany Boulevard at Stoney Trail NW.  Hiking trails are maintained in the area.

Weaselhead Flats Park, City of Calgary (N50⁰59’ W114⁰9’), is 237 ha on the upper end of Glenmore Reservoir within the City of Calgary. It contains the Elbow River delta and a stand of white spruce. The trails are part of the Trans-Canada Trail system.