Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

The Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area is a scenic park with four riverside campgrounds and a group campsite in the south-western prairie of Alberta, Canada. Set beneath cottonwood trees on the banks of the Oldman River near the Crowsnest Pass with a wind farm nearby, it’s the ideal spot to enjoy water and wind-based sports, such as sailing, windsurfing, power boating, and fishing.

But while there is a boat launch area on-site, you don’t have to have a power boat to enjoy the park. You can also launch a canoe or kayak to explore the birdlife and wildlife along the river, stroll the prairies in search of long-tail weasels and deer, or simply chill out at the campground and listen to the soothing sounds of the flowing water.

The campgrounds differ in size and facilities, but they are tent and RV-friendly with campsites catering for big rigs up to 60 feet (longer sites may be available if you call ahead and check). What’s unusual about this park’s campgrounds is that they are self-help and run on an honesty basis – there are no hosts to greet you and organize your campsite; you just show up.

Facilities include a children’s playground, picnic areas, restrooms, and a dump station. As it’s located in one of the windiest areas in Canada, you’ll enjoy some spectacular views of the wind turbines and countryside scenery from Cottonwood Campground.

RV Rentals in Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area

Transportation in Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area

Driving

Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area can be found right off the Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3) outside of Ft McLeod in Albert, Canada. It is located eight miles north-east of Pincher Creek, about 15 minutes’ drive.

Parking is available in the day-use area for day visitors. When you enter the park, do not turn in at the Day Use Only if you're in a big rig. If it’s busy and there are a lot of cars in the parking lot, you will find it difficult to turn around. The campground entrance is about a half mile past the picnic area.

Once you get to the campgrounds, take care on the roads. Drive slowly and keep an eye out for low-hanging branches and trees as well as wildlife.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area

Campsites in Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Three Rivers Group Camp

The Three Rivers Group Camp is available in summer only, close to Cottonwood Campground. It can be reserved in advanced by calling Alberta Parks. It’s great for a large family or group gathering with space for trailers, RVs and tents. Facilities include a picnic shelter, picnic tables, and pit toilets. Please note that quiet hours have to be respected from 23h00 to 0700 daily. The park is pet-friendly but dogs need to be kept on a leash at all times.

Castleview Campground

Castleview Campground is located along the southern side of the Oldman River in Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area. The campground has 30 electric campsites available for tents and RVs up to 50 feet. Longer sites may be available so call ahead to check. While it is open year round, limited facilities are available during the off season.

Campers will have access to drinking water, electricity, showers, flush toilets, and a dump station. The campground is also wheelchair accessible. It’s recommended that you bring your own water supply just in case. Please note that quiet hours have to be respected from 23h00 to 0700 daily. The park is pet-friendly but dogs need to be kept on a leash at all times.

Cottonwood Campground

The Cottonwood Campground can be found beneath Cottonwood trees on the southern side of the Oldman River in the Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area. It caters for tents and RVs up to 60 feet in length, according to the Alberta website but larger sites may be available if you call ahead to book.

There are 82 shady campsites here in total, 30 of which are electric with 30 amps and 52 of which are unserviced that are available from May to October only. Campers can enjoy access to restrooms with either vault or pit toilets, water taps, a kids’ playground, a boat launch area, and a dump station nearby at Castleview Campground.

Please note that quiet hours have to be respected from 23h00 to 0700 daily. The park is pet-friendly but dogs need to be kept on a leash at all times.

First-come first-served

North Fork Campground

The North Fork Campground in Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area offers a choice of 10 open and unserviced campsites along the northern banks of the Oldman River, suitable for RVs.

Campers will enjoy access to pit or vault toilets, a boat launch area, and a water pump. All campsites here are available on a first come, first served basis and are self-service in the off season. Campers are expected to bring their own water. Please note that quiet hours have to be respected from 23h00 to 0700 daily. The park is pet-friendly but dogs need to be kept on a leash at all times.

Windy Point Campground

Windy Point Campground offers a choice of 16 unserviced RV-friendly campsites along the southern bank of the Oldman River in the Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area. The sites are self-service and available on a first come, first served basis.

Campers will have access to pit or vault toilets, a boat launch area and a pier. As it’s one of the windiest spots in the park, it’s a great spot for sailing and wind surfing. Please note that quiet hours have to be respected from 23h00 to 0700 daily. The park is pet-friendly but dogs need to be kept on a leash at all times.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area

In-Season

Water Sports

Water lovers will be in their element at the Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area. With a wind farm nearby, it’s one of the windiest places in Canada, making it an excellent spot for sailing and wind surfing. There are also boat launch areas so you can bring your own watercraft along to enjoy water skiing, tubing, or simply canoeing or kayaking in the Oldman River Reservoir. Please make sure that any watercraft you use passes the Canada Shipping Act and regulations.

Canoeing/Kayaking

There is both a boat launch area and a hand-launch area where you can launch your canoe or kayak to explore the Oldman River. Paddling the river is a great way to spot some of the amazing birds and wildlife in the park, such as long-tail weasels and deer. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars! You’ll also get a great view of the wind farm with its wind turbines scattered on the hill tops above the river.

Fishing

The Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area and the campgrounds within it are popular spots for fishing enthusiasts. Located along the banks of the Oldman River, you can cast your line and try and catch something to grill on the barbecue for dinner. The Oldman River contains species such as rainbow trout, bull trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, as well as hybrid trout species. You will also find pike, walleye, mountain whitefish, lake sturgeon, catostomidae, goldeye, and minnows here.

Off-Season

Picnics

The Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area is a great place for picnics all year round. Some of the campgrounds stay open throughout the year so you can enjoy facilities such as restrooms, showers, and a picnic area. The day-use areas all offer picnic tables and changing rooms, but some of them are seasonal and closed during the off season months. Even if that’s the case, you’ll be able to find a scenic spot to set up your picnic and enjoy the peaceful river views.

Geocaching

With an abundance of wide open spaces and hilltops to explore, the Oldman Dam Provincial Recreation Area and its four campgrounds are perfect for those with an interest in geocaching. This outdoor recreational activity involves tracking down geocaches held at different locations all over the world. You will need a smartphone or GPS to follow the coordinates.

Ice Fishing

The Oldman River and Reservoir contain heaps of interesting fish species and you can enjoy ice fishing in the winter season here. Cast your line and try and catch all kinds of trout, such as rainbow, bull, brown, and cutthroat, as well as hybrid trout species that are a mix of these. You may also find pike, walleye, mountain whitefish, lake sturgeon, catostomidae, goldeye, and minnows in the river. Please note that a bait ban is in effect at the park. Please check with the Alberta Guide to Sportfishing regulations for more information.

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