A four-season provincial park, Crimson Lake offers year-round recreation opportunities to those looking for a great time on the water or in the woods. The park's namesake lake is only one of several, and all are set within deep green woods of spruce and aspen. In the summertime, the big water is a big draw; visitors can sail, canoe, waterski, fish, swim and more. There are several lovely sandy beaches for sunbathing, and there are volleyball courts too.
If you're looking to delve deeper into the park's woodlands, take any one of the park's several well-groomed trails. Hikers and mountain bikers can take the six mile/9.65 km loop around Crimson Lake, or they can enjoy some of the shorter interpretive trails and boardwalks. In the wintertime, the sparkling, snow-clad landscape becomes a wonderful backdrop for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat-biking.
If you're traveling with kids, be sure to take advantage of the park's interpretive events; guided hikes, amphitheater talks and campfire programs are all offered on a regular basis.
Crimson Lake sports two great campgrounds. The first, at Crimson Lake itself, has over 160 sites with electric hookups and offers many amenities, including showers and a laundry station. A smaller, primitive-site campground is located at Twin Lakes.
Reservations are taken for many sites at Crimson, and a handful of sites remain open through the winter. Twin Lake's sites are first-come first-served, and the campground closes during the off-season (November through April).
Crimson Lake Provincial Park is located right off of AB-11 (also known as the David Thompson Highway). Turning off of AB-11 and onto Rd 756 will take you straight through the park. Driving north, you'll find the Twin Lakes Campground turn-off on your right, followed shortly by the Crimson Lake Campground turn-off on your left. Roads too and within the park are paved and well-maintained. This part of Alberta is quite flat, too, so no need to worry about steep or winding sections on your drive.
All spots are back-in at both campsites, but you should have no trouble maneuvering into your spot, so long as you meet your site's specific length requirements. Crimson and Twin Lakes are just a short drive away from each other, and there's ample day-use parking available at both sites.
The smaller and quieter of the provincial park's campgrounds, the Twin Lakes Campground sits in a wooded area on near the shore of one of it's namesake lakes. Twin Lakes sports 39 primitive sites, which can accommodate small or medium RVs and trailers but do not offer water, electric or sewage hookups.
Twin Lakes is just to the south of Crimson Lake, however, and Twin Lakes campers can drive to and use the many amenities at the Crimson Lake campground (including showers, laundry station and sanitary dump station).
A small boat launch offers access to one of the Twin Lakes, and there's a pier and fish cleaning station too. There's also a group camping area and volleyball court on the lake's southern shore. A couple of short trails skirt the northern edge of the lake, offering great views the quiet fishing spots, while a longer trail leaving from the day use area heads to Crimson Lake.
Sites at Twin Lakes are all first-come first-served. The campground is open from May 9th through October 15th.
The sprawling Crimson Lake Campground features over 160 RV and trailer suitable sites set in spruce and aspen woodlands. Though the campground is large and can get quite busy, sites are well-spaced and offer good privacy.
Many sites can accommodate even large rigs, with the maximum site length topping out at 60 feet. 15/30 amp power hookups are available at all of Crimson Lake's sites, and though water and sewage hookups are not available, the campground does have several potable water spigots as well as a sanitary dump station. Modern restrooms, two playgrounds, a laundry area, a sheltered picnic area and an amphitheater are present, too.
A short walk away, at the day use area, visitors will find a boat launch, a swim beach, and a sand volleyball court. In the other direction, at the group use area, you can purchase firewood or play at the park's horseshoe pits. Several trailheads also begin near the campground.
Over half of the campsites can be reserved, while the rest are first-come first-served. Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance, beginning in late February every year. Eleven powered sites remain open through the winter season, so even RV/trailer campers can swing by and enjoy some of the great winter recreation opportunities the park has to offer.
Crimson Lake's extensive trail network features over 12 miles (20 km) of paths open to hikers and mountain bikers alike. The lengthy Amerada trail circumvents Crimson Lake, offering great views and solitude along the way. Shorter boardwalks and nature walks let visitors explore woods, marshlands and the placid waters of Beaver Pond. Birders may spot sandhill cranes, greater yellowlegs, western tanagers and much more.
During the summer, you can join park rangers on guided hikes to learn more about the area's fascinating natural history.
At well over 500 acres (200 ha), tree-lined Crimson Lake is an expansive and inviting body of water. Canoes, kayaks, sailboats, powerboats and waterskiis can all be found paddling or zipping across the surface during the busy summer season. Anglers can find the perfect spot for snagging a trout or perch. A convenient boat launch is located just up the road from the campground.
The smaller Twin Lakes also offer a quieter setting for boating; speeds there are limited to 7.5 mi/hr (12 km/hr).
Throughout the year (but especially during summer) park staff over excellent interpretive programs on a regular basis. Kids can learn about the area's ecology, human history, geologic history and more from friendly park interpreters. Some programs, such as the "Crimson Campfire Hour", take place at the campground, while others, such as the "Flavours of the Forest" tour (a crash course on edible forest plants), involve guided hikes through the woods. Curious minds should also take a visit to the park's great Environmental Learning Center.
Well-stocked waters, great views and easy accessibility make Crimson Lake Provincial Park a popular spot among anglers. Crimson Lake itself is the largest body of water in the park, though many fishermen opt to head for the Twin Lakes, which are much smaller but also less busy. Both options offer easy shoreline access and boat launches for those who want to cast in deeper waters. During winter, ice fishing is quite popular, and, during that time of year, quietude is guaranteed. Trout and perch are the two biggest game species here.
Crimson Lake maintains two lovely skating rinks throughout the winter, both located right near the main campground. Sail across the ice while taking in views of the sparkling, frozen surface of Crimson Lake and the snow-clad spruce that surround it. If you're traveling with friends, perhaps a pick-up game of hockey will be in order. However you choose to spend your time on the ice, you can't go wrong with a (well-earned) hot drink afterwards!
When winter rolls around (and it comes early in Alberta), Crimson Lake's fields and woodlands are quickly covered in a deep blanket of snow. The park maintains its extensive trail system through the winter, giving off-season visitors the chance to exercise and explore the quiet, sparkling wonderland. Perhaps you'll catch a glimpse of an owl as it flies in search of its next meal, or maybe you'll spy a moose tromping through the deep snow, looking for willow bushes to snack on.
There are several kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails. Packed trails, like the 6-mile (10 km) Amerada Trail, lend themselves to snowshoeing and fat-biking. On Saturdays from January through March, the park offers snowshoe rentals and lessons.