Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation Area is a natural park located in the Central Parkland Region of Alberta, near the town of Stettler. Locals refer to Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation Area as Boss Hill so don’t be confused! The rustic campground is situated in the 5.88 acre (2.38 Hectare) park and has 29 unserviced RV sites. The campground and provincial recreation area is situated on beautiful Buffalo Lake which is also the site of several other provincial recreation areas and private camping sites and attractions.
While Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation Area is located on the northeast side of the lake, the south west corner is home to Old MacDonald's Farm, where many family friendly activities are available including farm animals, hay rides, go kart rentals, and a music festival in the fall that campers visiting the provincial parks can visit during the day. While staying at the Buffalo Lake Provincial Park, RVers can partake in the many activities the lake offers. There is a beach and swimming area, fishing, and nature walks along the shoreline to watch for wildlife such as owls, local and migratory birds, and local mammals including deer, elk and moose that frequent the area. Power boats are permitted on the lake, and water skiing and windsurfing activities provide plenty of thrills and spills for lake goers who like a little excitement.
Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation Area is located centrally in the Province of Alberta, and easily accessible for RVs from the three major cities, Edmonton, Red Deer, and Calgary . It is just over a 1.5 hour drive (161 kilometers/100 miles) from Edmonton, a 1 hour drive ( 106 kilometers/65.8 miles) from Red Deer, and a 2.5 hours drive (264 kilometers/164 miles) from Calgary on secondary highways.
From Edmonton or Calgary you can take the primary Highway 2, which is a four lane, paved, and well maintained road for RV travel to Red Deer. From Red Deer go east on Highway 11 which is also paved and well maintained, to highway 601 and turn left. The 601 paved highway curves to the east again, and takes you to paved Highway 56 just north of Stettler. Turn north on Highway 56 and then left on Township Road 412 which is the access road to the campground.
The access road is gravel and may be dusty in dry conditions, or soft and muddy in wet conditions, so RVers should use caution. Take it slow to avoid skidding on loose gravel or mud, hitting bumps and washboard, or stirring up dust.
The nearest major town is Stettler, Alberta, which has services and amenities for local campers. Stettler can be accessed by travelling east on Township Road 412 for 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) than turning south on Highway 56 and travelling for 21 kilometers (13 miles) to the townsite.
There are 29 unserviced sites at Buffalo Lake Provincial Campground. The area is surrounded by Boreal forest, and campsites are grassy and well kept. You can choose from sites near the lake which are more open, or well treed sites in the wooded areas further away from the lake which are shady and cool in summer months.
Many sites are able to take larger RVs; be sure to check when phoning for a reservation to ensure your rig can be accommodated at your chosen site. Amenities at the campground include a beach, swimming area, picnic tables, fire pits, camp kitchen shelter, hand water pump, out houses, garbage cans, firewood sales, playground, and a boat launch. Fire bans are occasionally in effect during dry weather, as are blue-green algae blooms which affect activities on the lake, and you should bring your own water for drinking at all times. The hand pump is not operational during the non-peak season and may not be appropriate for drinking water at other times.
Buffalo Lake has a plentiful northern pike population, and fishing from the shore or from watercraft for these large game fish is a popular activity while camping at the Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation Area. Use spinners, jigs, or spoons to catch a large jackfish on the lake. There are also a few Burbot in the lake for anglers to try their hand at. Be sure to have a current fishing license for Alberta and to become familiar with the regulations for catch size and numbers at Buffalo Lake prior to fishing.
Buffalo Lake Recreation Area has a sandy beach for sunbathing and for kids to build sandcastles, and a shallow swimming area ideal for children. There can be algae growth later in the year, and blue-green algae blooms will prevent campers from enjoying the water as the algae growth is dangerous for swimmers. If the lake is low, water is pumped in from the nearby Red Deer River, which usually keeps the water level higher and the water clearer than in other lakes without this feature.
There is a boat launch site at the campground, so power boating and non-motorized boating are a great way to enjoy the lake. Watersports from power boats such as water skiing or dragging a tube with happily screaming passengers is great fun, but be sure to use caution, and wear life preservers when engaged in these activities. Windsurfers can be seen on the lake with their colorful craft. Watch out for windsurfers when boating on the lake as wind powered craft may have less maneuverability. Kayakers and canoers also enjoy peaceful paddles along the shoreline and power boat operators should also be aware of these users and avoid them for everyone's safety.
Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation Area is open year around, even when the campsite is not being maintained in the winter, which allows ice fishers to access the lake. You can use spoons and spinners to catch the Northern Pike which are plentiful and usually easy to catch in wintertime or anglers who want to try a different approach may choose to use baited smelt. Remember to be sure you have a current fishing license even during the off season.
Enjoy hiking in the area in the spring and fall, when migratory birds like geese make their way north or south. The sounds of the geese calling to each other and their huge “V” formations are an exciting experience during transition seasons. Deer, moose, and elk visit the lake for a drink and can often be seen near the shoreline and birds of prey such as owls are often frequent visitors to the lake edge. Look for trails along the shoreline to enjoy the wildlife along the lake but keep your distance so as not to disturb the local inhabitants.
The Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation area is classified as between a 4 and 5 on the Bortle Scale, which means that there is some light noise from local development in the night sky. However, stargazing from this rural location is good. In the wintertime you may get a chance to see the Northern Lights if conditions are right. Use an app on your phone, or take a book on constellations and see how many you can pick out of the night sky from this rural lake area.