We needed a beach fix. It needed to have sand, water and a little sun. It needed to smell like campfire, to have a little shade from trees and a place for our tent. And it needed to be within a couple hours drive from Calgary.
We found our solution at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park. We spent three days at this park, which is just south of Brooks. The drive is about 2 and a half hours east from Calgary. Yeah, its a little far, but we’d drive to the ends of the earth for a little sand. (In retrospect, Sylvan Lake may be the same distance, and there may be other beached campsites around here… we’ll have to check those out too.) It is located on Lake Newell, a man-made reservoir that has become a home for wildlife and a place for people to cool off.
Having lived in Calgary for a while, we all know that the mountains are a wonderful place to spend time, but what is in the other direction? (the other direction you say – there is another direction??) I don’t know of too many places around here that you can dig your toes in warm sand, go windsurfing, sailing, motor boating, or simply build castles by the water. But you can do all of the above at Kinbrook Island.
Also there is a really pretty bird sanctuary, where you can see pelicans, all sorts of blackbirds and wildlife. The yellow-headed blackbird is everywhere. The hike goes right around an estuary, which is a perfect distance for a short family bike ride.
Now, before this starts sounding like a paid advertisement for the place I have to let you know there are a few things we had to overlook to have a great time. Firstly, the showers require loonies, and they don’t always work (or they are ice cold, and then you may just prefer to bathe the lake…) The park is entirely drive – in, so if you are using an RV, this may be a good thing. For us wilderness-loving-tenters – it was a little too, ummm, ‘civilized’ for our liking. We just had a hard time creating our wilderness get-away, when our camping neighbours had generators, cruised by in slick hummers, and displayed lawn ornaments. Just sayin’. Some more points to consider before you go dreaming of an idilic sunbathing experience: there are a ton of sand flies on the beach, and the water is ICY. I do have bragging rights though, of being the only person in our group to fully submerge. But then I’m tough. And it was hot. And I like bragging rights.
All this said, it was enough for us to come home feeling rested, sandy and happy. This little park is hidden away and would be lovely if not too crowded. Go on a weekday or not a long weekend and I’m sure you will be blessed with a lovely time. I would recommend staying near the day-use area, and the beach. Although these sites book quickly – so book ahead.
So that’s my review of Kinbrook Island Provincial Campsite. Stay tuned for more reviews and camping tips to follow. (Or fill out the email subscription form on my main page, that I just put in, and that took my all morning to do, and caused more grey hairs than I care to admit…)