Located in Alberta, 23 km (14 miles) west of Turner Valley, Sheep River Provincial Park is part of the Kananaskis Country park system and includes a section of the Sheep River valley. The park, which encompasses the eastern slopes of the Rockies to the west and foothills to the east, is home to a variety of species of birds and mammals, particularly bighorn sheep, who reside in the area all year. In fact, part of the park is the Sheep River Wildlife Sanctuary, which offers a permanent home for the animals and increases your chances of sighting one (or more!) of the magnificent sheep.
The park has opportunities for year-round recreation; visitors can engage in horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and camping in warmer months, while during the winter, there are 37 km (22.99 miles) of groomed trails for cross-country skiers to explore as well as ice skating at the Sandy McNabb campground. Looking to relax? Then sit back at a campground or day use area and take in the park’s beautiful scenery and enjoy its solitude.
With excellent wildlife viewing and plenty of recreation available, Sheep River Provincial Park makes an ideal destination for both adventure and relaxation, regardless of the time of year.
To get to Sheep River Provincial Park from Calgary, take AB-2 S for 32.6 km (20.25 miles). Take exit 222 for Alberta 552 E/Alberta 2 Alternate S toward Okotoks, continuing onto AB-2A S and proceeding for 8.9 km (5.53 miles). Next, make a right onto Big Rock Trail, continuing onto Township Rd 204. Making a slight left onto Township Rd 203A and travel for 1.5 km (.93 miles) until Township Rd 203A turns slightly left and becomes 16 St W. After 900 meters (2952 feet), turn right onto AB-7 W and proceed for 15.8 km (9.81 miles). Continue onto AB-22 and drive for 4 km (2.48 miles), while looking for signs for AB-546. Follow AB-546 W for 33.3 km (20.69 miles) to Sheep River Rd and the park.
Parking is available throughout Sheep River Provincial Park.
Public transportation is not available to Sheep River Provincial Park.
Located 35 km (21.13 miles) west of Turner Valley on Hwy 546 is Bluerock Campground. There are 66 unserviced campsites that are first come first served at the campground. Sites are able to accommodate RV’s and trailers as well as tents and are surround by trees. There are an additional 17 unserviced sites that include hitching rails, corrals and a loading ramp for those traveling with horses. Close to the campground is the Sheep River, ensuring easy access to fishing opportunities. Camping at Bluerock Campground also offers easy access to trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Water and pit toilets are available at the campground and campers can purchase firewood.
Sandy McNabb Campground can be found 21 km (13.85 miles) west of Turner Valley on Hwy 546. The campground includes 112 sites with electric hookups with shade provided by trees. Sites are first come-first served and visitors can relax and enjoy the pine forest and the clear water of the Sheep River. There are also 41 equestrian sites, which include hitching rails, corrals and a loading ramp. Some of the sites have electric hook-ups and others offer both electric and water hookups. Sites can accommodate RV’s and tents. The campground offers a playground, as well as flush toilets and showers, ensuring that you will be comfortable for the length of your stay.
A popular activity for visitors of Sheep River Provincial Park is hiking and the park offers plenty of trails for exploration, regardless of ones’ ability. For example, you can enjoy an easy trail to Sheep River Falls (possibly the best waterfall near Calgary), which follows the west side of the Sheep River gorge and offers beautiful views of the foothills and Rocky Mountains, as well as the river pools and eddies along the Sheep River. While the short trail has minimal elevation gain, the trail offers a huge experience without requiring too much work. The park includes plenty of other trails to explore, all of which have something unique to offer.
Sheep River Provincial Park is an excellent place to engage in fishing. Not only will you have the chance to catch a meal (or two!), but fishing will allow you to relax and take in the beautiful scenery that the park has to offer. There are many types of fish in the crystal-clear Sheep River; brown, bull, cutthroat and rainbow trout, longnose dace, northern pearl dace, longnose sucker, mountain sucker, mountain whitefish and spoonhead sculpin can all be found. So, grab your rod and reel and be sure to get the appropriate fishing license. Then relax and enjoy your experience!
Sheep River Provincial Park provides visitors with the opportunity to glimpse birds as well as wildlife during their time in the park. Within the park is the Sheep River Wildlife Sanctuary, which offers a home all year to the Bighorn Sheep of Alberta. Not only can you view these magnificent creatures during your visit, you may also catch sign of a bear, cougar or other mammal. The park is also popular among those who enjoy birding, as it is home to almost all of Alberta’s species of birds of prey. Keep your eyes out while driving through the park, going for a hike or relaxing during a picnic and be ready for a possible encounter!
Sheep River Provincial Park offers a unique opportunity for those visiting in the winter; the opportunity to ice skate within the park’s confines! A public skating rink is open throughout the winter months at the Sandy McNabb Campground. The rink can be found at the lower end of the day use area south of 546 and an iced path is present so that one can get between the skating pond and the parking lot. Not only can you enjoy the experience of ice skating, you can do so while taking in the park’s beautiful scenery.
You might think that winter is not an ideal time to visit a Provincial Park. When it comes to Sheep River Provincial Park, the winter is a perfect time to engage in activities like cross country skiing. The snow on the ground during the winter months provides a different view of the park, and from December to March 37 km (22.99 miles) of groomed trails that lead from Sandy McNabb Campground are open just for those looking to cross country ski. Explore the park in its winter glory as you glide at your own pace along the trails. You will get in a good workout as well as take in some magnificent scenery!
During the winter when there is snow on the ground, hiking is not a possibility. Fortunately, when there is snow there is the chance for snowshoeing! Strap on your snowshoes and be ready to explore the part at your own pace. Snowshoes will keep you from sinking into deep snow and will allow you to walk along the park’s trails. Winter trails can be accessed from the Sheep River Ranger Station. Feel as if you are a part of a winter wonderland as you make your way along the trail with the help of your snowshoes!