Kicking off camping season

Foothills: Camping season at provincial parks begins online

By: By Jessica Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 12:03 pm

It will be business as usual at the Okotoks Lions Campground in 2014 as extensive repairs to flood damage were completed last year.
It will be business as usual at the Okotoks Lions Campground in 2014 as extensive repairs to flood damage were completed last year.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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Foothills campgrounds are gearing up for another year after last year’s floods.

While some suffered damage from last year’s floods, many have completed repairs and are starting to accept reservations for this year’s camping season.

The Okotoks Lions Sheep River Campground was under water in last year’s flood, but restoration work was done over the summer months and it will be business as usual when it opens this year.

"We have a few things that need to be finished up before the season, but other than that, all of our sites are ready to go," said Gwen Kirilenko, who sits on the park committee and co-manages the campground with Pauline Krause.

The Okotoks campground opens in April. Facilities there include RV and trailer sites, tent sites, sewer, water and electrical, and television hookups, washrooms, on-site laundry facilities and coin-operated showers. It's location on the south side of the Sheep River make it an ideal campground for those wanting to wade in the river, or walk the pedestrian pathways.

It’s a similar story at Riverbend Campground, on the Sheep River just east of Okotoks.

Owner Dwayne Couture says his campground is open year-round.

“Two weeks after the June flood, we were partially open and by the beginning of August, we were fully open again,” he said. “We had 50-60 campers all winter, as we had some displaced campers from High River and workers who were working in High River who had nowhere to stay.”

He said they plan to do some armouring along on the riverbank to prevent erosion this spring and he is welcoming early bird campers.

Riverbend Campground, located at 48033 370 Ave E, offers campers sites with power and water hookups, electrical service, modern washrooms and hot showers, laundry and a store on-site. Activities for families at the campground include fishing, paddleboats, mini-golf and horseshoes, playgrounds as well as walking trails and birdwatching.

It's also open season in several provincial campsites.

The province launched its 2014 online reservation system earlier this month. Users can reserve one of 5,500 sites at any of the province's 66 provincial campgrounds, with reserve.albertaparks.ca.

William Anderson, press secretary for Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, said Kananaskis Country campgrounds will be open for the 2014 camping season, though that's not the case for other campgrounds in Southern Alberta.

"The larger southern closures due to flood damage are Wyndham Carseland Provincial Park, River Cove group camping area at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Porcupine Group Use at Elbow Creek, and Etherington Creek Campground," Anderson said.

In October, the province announced it would rebuild more than 50 campgrounds damaged by last year's June flood, as well as 60 day-use areas and 170 kilometres of pathways and recreation trails.

Kananaskis Country sustained the most damage in it's 35-year history. Over the next two years, Kananaskis will see 51-day use areas, 41 campgrounds and six trail heads restored, as well as other big projects like the Peter Lougheed Visitor Information Centre which was damaged during the flood, with provincial funding of approximately $60 million.

"We're definitely encouraging people who are camping and travelling in Southern Alberta to check the Alberta Parks website for regular updates on flood recovery as it happens," Anderson said.


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