North Fork Provincial Recreation Area is located on the east slopes of the beautiful Rocky Mountains of southwestern Alberta, an area that is world famous for its breathtaking scenery, wilderness, trails, activities, and attractions. The nearby town of Millarville, a 15 minute drive, holds a farmers market on Saturdays during the summer season, and hosts an annual fair and rodeo in July that is definitely worth checking out. Also a short drive from North Fork is the Banff National Park and town site, Kananaskis Country, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park, and the town of Bragg Creek. Nearby Bragg Creek is a notable tourist destination with many unique shops and sights only 30 minutes away from North Fork. The North Fork campground in the Provincial Recreation Area has 34 unserviced sites for RV camping. The campground and recreation area is set in the Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country. The foothills along with the forested and open terrain near the mountains provide plenty of natural sights and sounds as well as historical sites. A combination of wilderness and ranching area, this region has plenty to see and experience while RV camping in the region. The area is known for its scenery, wildlife, hiking and riding trails, attractions, and rustic country atmosphere.
North Fork Provincial Recreation Area is 16.6 kilometers (10 miles) west on Highway 549 from the hamlet of Millarville, Alberta, which has some services and amenities. The short access road to the campground is on the south side of the highway and is a dirt road that crosses over a cattle gate and slopes down to the campground. Go slow over the cattle gate to avoid unnecessary jostling of your RV and contents. During wet weather the road can be muddy and there is an incline down to the campsite which can be slick when wet, so use caution. To get to Millarville take highway 22X west from the south side of the city of Calgary, then head south at Highway 22. This is 59.4 kilometer trip (37 miles) to Millarville where you will take highway 549 west to the campsite. North Fork Campground is approximately a one hour drive from Calgary, 1.5 hours from Banff, and 30 minutes from the nearest major townsite of Bragg Creek. The two lane highways from the city are well paved and excellent for traveling with an RV.
The North Fork Campground is located in a wooded area with a creek below it. There are 34 unserviced sites suitable for moderately sized RVs, up to 24 feet in length. Amenities at the campground include picnic tables, fire pits with grills, outhouses, and a hand water pump. It is recommended that RV campers bring their own drinking water. The campground is open from mid-May when the snow pack abates until late September. There are RV sewage disposal sites at other nearby campgrounds. You can also purchase firewood at some of the nearby campgrounds.
There are many trails from the campground for leisurely walks to enjoy the natural surroundings and do some wildlife spotting. The campground does not take reservations, and camping is first come first served, so make sure you head out early on busy weekends when the campground can fill up quickly.
The trails in the area are often used by local equestrians and there are local outfitters that can arrange group trail rides and summer riding camps for kids. Enjoy the spectacular scenery from horseback in this ranching and wilderness community. The forested areas, mountains, hills, and open meadows are a delight for riders. You can often get much closer to wildlife from horseback than you would on foot, but be careful as horses can spook when confronted with large mammals or predators and close encounters with bears in the area should be avoided.
The creek near the campground, and several creeks, rivers, and lakes in the area make excellent fishing sites. Be sure to have a current Alberta fishing license, and be aware of limits and regulations. Creek fishing is popular with anglers and spoons and spinners are more frequently used in local lakes. The water is cold in these high elevation water bodies so if you are on or near the water use caution and wear a life jacket.
Informal trails from the campground and maintained trails in the region are attractive to cyclists and mountain bikers. The terrain has many elevation changes, some of which are steep, so be sure to choose a route that is appropriate for your equipment and ability. The trail surface even on maintained trails is rough and may have tree roots, holes, and slick surfaces, so be sure to wear a helmet for safety.
During the fall season, the area's trails are ideal for a long hike, when temperatures are cool and trails tend to be drier. After the first frost, many insects die off which makes wilderness hikes in the area more pleasant. Wear layers so you can stay warm in the chilly autumn air, and peel off layers as you heat up later in the day. Be sure to make someone aware of your hiking plans and location before venturing out, and keep an eye out and be cautious of local wildlife.
Local trails can become difficult to hike after the first snowfall, and as the snow becomes deeper. Try strapping on a set of snowshoes, which can be purchased relatively inexpensively from a sporting good supply store or rented from local outfitters. The wide surface of the snowshoes allows you to traverse the trails without breaking through the snow surface. Enjoy the winter wonderland that the North Fork Provincial Recreation Area provides in the colder months while covering much more ground than you would on foot.
If you enjoy cycling in the summer, what about in the winter? It is possible with the right equipment. Fat bikes are specialized bicycles with large, extra wide, “fat” tires, that are 3.8 inches (10.5 cm) or wider, and have deep treads that allow for cycling on icy and/or snowy surfaces. Several trails in the area are listed as appropriate for fat biking in winter months. Do not proceed down cycling trails in the winter if your bike is leaving ruts or you are having trouble maintaining a straight line.