You weren’t alone when you enjoyed the natural beauty and resources at any of Alberta’s 470-plus provincial parks and recreation areas in 2022, because whether you saw them or not, more than 10 million others visited as well.
“Our provincial parks system benefits every Albertan while attracting visitors from around the world. I am proud to share that we had another successful summer camping and recreation season and we are beginning what will be a busy winter,” said Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry, Parks and Tourism.
Those summer months were especially busy as visitors made more than 260,000 camping reservations, which resulted in more than 642,000 occupied camper nights province-wide.
The number of visitors to Alberta’s provincial parks has increased by more than 33 per cent over the last five years.
Part of that draw has been some recently completed capital upgrades, including approximately 14 kilometres of new mountain biking trails in Cypress Hills Provincial Park, upgrades to the Matápiiksi (Hoodoo) Interpretive Trail in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, a new viewing platform at Little Lake in Saskatoon Island Provincial Park, and new equestrian camping areas in Castle Provincial Park and Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area.
This past summer also saw the reopening of two important facilities.
William Watson Lodge in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park offers year-round, barrier-free wilderness lodging and experiences to persons with disabilities, people who are terminally ill, seniors, and their families.
Peaceful Valley Provincial Recreation Area and day lodge south of Pigeon Lake provides immersive nature experiences and recreation opportunities to persons with disabilities, people who are terminally ill, and seniors as well.
“At the end of the day, parks are for people – for people to explore, appreciate nature, learn, and enjoy,” Loewen said.
The provincial government offered a number of programs in parks across the province this year. Dinosaur Provincial Park, for instance, ran more than 1,100 interpretive programs with a collective attendance of more than 21,600 visitors.
The Ministry of Forestry, Parks and Tourism noted that protecting Alberta’s provincial parks and recreation areas is a priority for the Alberta government. Budget 2022 invested $75 million in operating expenses for Alberta Parks and an additional $34.4 million for upgrades to sites across the province.
By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Dec 08, 2022 at 14:00