Chain Lakes Provincial Park is a sanctuary protecting Alberta’s diverse and abundant wildlife. These prairie lands have more than 90 campsites, surrounded by willow bushes that provide privacy in its own natural way. The Chain Lakes Reservoir is a long and narrow body of water ideal for water-based activities. Situated between the Porcupine Hills and the front range of the Rocky Mountains, the park is surrounded by rolling hills and grasslands covered by aspen making it an extremely verdant retreat.
For decades, animals, as well as First Nation native people, have used these chains of small lakes for their livelihood. During the late 1960s, the agriculture needs of southern Alberta were growing fast and so dams were built to help contain water. Today, the reservoir water serves as a great source of recreation.
Chain Lakes Provincial Park allows campers to enjoy more primitive camping with its unserviced sites, but also the option of electrical hookups if desired.
Activities abound here. Campers can swim in the cool lake whenever they want and enjoy numerous beach activities. There's also fishing, sailing, surfing, and hiking to keep you entertained without having to venture very far. The park is even open in winter and offers plenty of winter campsites as well as opportunities for ice fishing.
Chain Lakes Provincial Park is also special because it is located within the last large expanse of Canada’s mostly undisturbed montane territory. A very unique and structured montane landscape can only be experienced at Chain Lakes Provincial Park and Beauvais Lake Provincial Park.
From Calgary, Chain Lakes Provincial Park is a 90-minute drive to the southwest, towards the east side of the Chain Lakes Reservoir. The park is approximately the same distance from Lethbridge towards the east. All highways connecting to the park are well maintained and wide making for a comfortable and scenic driving experience.
Chain Lakes Provincial Park is home to one campground with 123 campsites. 31 of these campsites are unserviced, 60 of them come with a 15-amp or 30-amp power. They have 32 campsites that are reserved for winter camping.
The campground has a small craft boat launch, cooking shelter, fast food concession, and sewage disposal. For convenience, there's also a firewood shop, picnic tables, water tap and pump, playground, and pit/vault toilets.
The campground is open year-round and has a day-use area along with overnight camping facilities. There’s also a group camping area that can accommodate 15-20 RVs and tents.
Some of the best sites are located near the lake, giving you a front row seat to the lake's stunning views and the beauty surrounding it.
Reservations can be made in advance or on a first-come-first-served basis.
There’s a small craft boat launch provided near the camping area which is easily accessible by the campers for their motorized boats. Powerboating is loved by the vacationers and they can speed up to a limit of 12 km/hr (7.5 miles/hr). Towing is not allowed. Water skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding are also prohibited in the lake. However, campers can enjoy various other water activities to their heart’s content like swimming, sailing, and windsurfing.
With such a beautiful and diverse landscape, it’s inevitable that the campers will want to explore the area. There is a Cowboy Trail that runs along the entire eastern boundary of the park and offers hikers some truly amazing viewpoints of this vast wilderness. Other than that, there are a number of walking trails – some short and some long – located throughout the park.
Be it summer or winter, cast your line and have fun catching rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, brook trout, and mountain whitefish. You might even catch some bull trout since it is the bull trout province, but these fish are on catch and release since they are an endangered species. Anglers need to have their fishing license along with them in order to enjoy the great fishing experience here. The reservoir is stocked every year and this is one of the few provincial parks that also offers great ice fishing.
There are few places with a sky as clear as that of Chain Lakes Provincial Park. Lie down under the sky and you’ll never want to stare at the boring ceiling of your own room again. It's an excellent spot for astronomers and stargazers. Bring your equipment with you and spend the time gazing out at our vast universe and contemplating its mystery. The night skies here are ranked #2 on the Bortle Scale and are some of the darkest skies in the world.
The amazing diverse range of the ecological zones of Canada’s montane landscape attracts a number of birds and this neck of the woods alone is home to over 57 species of birds.
Chain Lakes Provincial Park is close to the boundary of the Rocky Mountains, which not only gives a great view to the campers but also makes it a desirable migrating stop-over for many birds before and after they take on the mountains. This fact makes Chain Lakes Provincial Park one of the best places to catch sight of birds such as eagles, osprey, trumpeter swans, and pelicans.