Set in the middle of southern Alberta's agricultural heartland, Kinbrook Island offers a beach getaway in the most unexpected of places. On a small island near the shore of Lake Newell, Kinbrook draws anglers, birders, boaters and beachgoers alike.
Newell's sparkling and expansive waters are an idyllic setting for summer sailing, windsurfing or waterskiing. Canoeists and kayakers can enjoy the lake too - it's large enough that everyone can find a quiet spot to themselves. Anglers can cast their lines into one of southern Alberta's best fisheries; Walleye, pike, trout and more reach impressive sizes in the lake's mild waters. If you're looking to take a dip, you can head to Kinbrook's sand-lined swimming beach. Or, work up an appetite playing a few rounds of beach volleyball.
Naturalists, and birders especially, should take advantage of the lovely Kinbroom Marsh interpretive trail. Some species of waterfowl congregate in huge numbers along the lake shore, drawn to the rich, productive marshes that line Newell.
During winter, ice-skating, cross-country skiing and ice-fishing are popular park pastimes. A few dozen sites remain open-year round to accommodate off-season visitors.
In total, Kinbrook sports over 160 RV-friendly sites. It's main season stretches from early May through mid-September. Most sites are reservable, and can be reserved up to 90 days in advance.
Kinbrook Island is located just 10 miles (16 km) south of the large town of Brooks, Alberta. Brooks, in turn, is just to the south of the Trans-Canadian Highway.
To reach the park, drivers should take AB-873 and then turn west onto Township Road 173A, which leads right to the campground. All routes to the park are paved and well-maintained, and the entire region is very flat, so drivers need not worry about steep or winding sections of road.
Camping spots are spread across Kinbrook Island and are organized into ten distinct loops (labeled A-J). All spots are back-in, but most are very long, with many being able to accommodate rigs over 40 feet (a few can even accommodate 60+ foot rigs). Curves within the loops are mellow, and drivers should have no problems maneuvering into their spaces.
The island also sports multiple day-use and overflow parking areas. There is also a small parking area at the mainland trailhead for the Kinbrook Marsh interpretive trail.
Kinbrook's campground, which features over 160 individual RV-suitable sites as well as cabins and cottages, nearly occupies the whole island. Sites are all just a quick walk from the water, and most have at least a few shade trees. This modern campground features many amenities: 15/30 amp electric hookups (at 155 sites), showers, flush-toilet restrooms, a laundry station, a sanitary dump station and a concession stand that's open during the summer season. Off the island, but close by on the mainland, there's a group camping area with three large sites.
There are also several developed recreation areas spread throughout the island campground; there are two volleyball courts, two playgrounds and several horseshoe pits. The swim beach, fish-cleaning station and boat launches are all at the island's northern end, but it's an easy walk even from the southernmost campsite.
Most sites are reservable during peak season, from early May through mid-September. Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance.
A few dozen sites remain open and powered throughout the year, allowing for winter recreation, though many of the campground's other facilities and amenities shut down.
The big waters of Lake Newell draw boaters from far and wide. Set in the middle of a vast and flat stretch of plains, conditions on the lake can get quite blustery, creating an ideal setting for sailing and wind surfing. Power boating and waterskiing are popular on the lake as well. Those looking for something slower-paced can paddle out on a kayak or canoe. With 25 square miles (68 sq km) to play on, you'll have plenty of space to yourself, even when things are busy.
Whether you're fishing from the pier or heading out by boat, you'll find well-stocked waters at Kinbrook. Indeed, Newell Lake has a reputation as one of southern Alberta's most productive fishing lakes. Walleye, northern pike, rainbow trout and lake whitefish are a few of the many species that can be caught here. During the winter season, ice-fishing is permitted and is quite popular as well.
Before you wet your line, make sure you are familiar with current fishing regulations at Newell (seasonally up-to-date info is available at the park office).
Summer days in southern Alberta can get quite hot; high temps in the 80s are not at all unusual (that's 27+ Celsius). Newell's clear, mild waters provide a refreshing respite on muggy days. A long, fine sandy beach is located at the northwestern end of the island, within easy walking distance of all the camping loops. Enjoy a dip or a sunbathing session, or both, as you take in the views of sailboats and lazy summer clouds.
Here in land-locked Alberta, on a lake surrounded by miles of plains, visitors can find some surprising bird species. Drawn to the big body of water like a beacon, avian visitors to the lake include California gulls, American white-billed pelicans, double-crested cormorants and caspian terns. If you go for a walk along the interpretive trail, you'll pass by wooded and marshy habitats, and where you may come across warblers, vireos, flycatchers, pintails, eiders, mergansers, rails, coots, and more. Many of these species are migratory, so spring and autumn are the best times to see them.
Skirting the edge between wetland and dry plains, the Kinbrook Marsh interpretive trail offers up both botanical and zoological diversity. Arid-climate plants thrive just a short distance from the lake, while marshy pools and inlets along Newell's margins provide rich feeding grounds for a host of wading and waterfowl species; interpretive signs describe the area's ecology and fauna, while viewing platforms provide a great place for birders scan the marsh. The walk is about 2.7 miles (4.5 km). It leaves from the northern end of the campground and ends on the mainland.
With many campsites being available year-round, Kinbrook draws a fair share of winter visitors, too. Some days, when biting winds are whipping across the plains, can be harsh. But on calm days, blue-grey skies shine light over a marvelous snowy landscape. Cross-country skiing can be done on the Kinbrook Marsh interpretive trail, while the smooth surface of the lake lends itself to ice skating. Snowmobilers are not permitted to ride in the park, though they can use the park's boat launch to set out onto Newell.