There may be snow on the ground but now is the time to start planning summer camping trips according to Cathy Corrigal, Visitor Services Team Leader at Prince Albert National Park. Visitor to national parks are encouraged to plan their travels by reserving campsites and experiences through the Parks Canada Reservation System.
“In previous years, the Parks Canada Reservation Service has been inundated with booking requests for sites in Prince Albert National Park,” said Corrigal, “To ensure faster processing when booking campsites online, we recommend creating an account before the service opens.”
The reservation service opens Prince Albert National Park for bookings on January 11, 2019 at 8:00 a.m. Central Standard Time. Visitors can make reservations for Beaver Glen Campground or Red Deer Campground online at: reservation.parkscanada.gc.ca Reservations can also be made through a toll free number by calling 1-877-737-3783.
All sites in Red Deer Campground and Beaver Glen Campground can be reserved using the Parks Canada Reservation Service. There are 161 full-service pull through sites in Red Deer Campground and 200 back-in campsites with electric service in Beaver Glen Campground. Beaver Glen also has 10 oTENTik sites that can be reserved. Both campgrounds operate from May 17, 2019 to October 14, 2019. Reservations are recommended for campers wanting to secure a campsites between these dates. The lowest vacancy rate is during the summer season and long weekends. Sites not reserved in Beaver Glen and Red Deer are available on a first come-first-served basis.
Visitors without a reservations may choose to stay at one of the three outlying campgrounds on a first-come, first-served basis.
Sandy Lake Campground is located on the eastern shore of Sandy Lake, along Highway 263. The campground offers easy access to a beach, picnic shelter, and boat launch. It features 25 back-in sites and six walk-in sites.
Narrows Campground rests in a mature forest of spruce, fir, and aspen trees. Seventy-six back-in and nine pull-through campsites can accommodate tents and camping units up to a maximum of 27-feet. The area provides many opportunities for hiking, swimming, boating, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and picnicking. Flush toilet washrooms, potable water, and a recreational vehicle dump station are available on-site.
Namekus Lake Campground is 10 kilometres south of Waskesiu. It’s suited to visitors seeking a natural camping experience without the challenges of backcountry travel. There are 14 back-in sites and six walk-in sites near the sandy shores of Namekus Lake. It has a picnic shelter, water tap, and flush toilets.
There is ample space in the park for backcountry camping and it’s open year-round. Fees for winter camping are reduced at sites and increase in a summer rate May 17. Check with Visitor Centre for more details at 306-663-4522 or visit the Prince Albert National Park website: pc.gc.ca/princealbert
Parks Canada Reservation Service opened to the public on January 3 in some regions. Check individual park websites and parkscanda.gc.ca for information on when individual parks begin taking reservations.
The Parks Canada’s Reservations Service has undergone tremendous growth in the past five years. Reservations in Canada have jumped from about 120,000 per year to over 340,000. It’s one way to help Canadians plan to spend time in the outdoors. There are currently over 100 campgrounds and nearly 11,000 campsites available nationally on the reservation system. As the country's largest tourism provider, Parks Canada is committed to connecting visitors with natural and cultural heritage.
Work on the FireSmart Demonstration Area Begins
Parks Canada is set to commence work on the FireSmart Demonstration Area in the townsite of Waskesiu. The four hectare section of land is located adjacent to the Waskesiu Golf Course and Highway 263. The principles of the FireSmart program will be implemented at the site to protect critical infrastructure and to increase awareness among visitors and leaseholders about the importance of wildfire risk reduction in their community.
The FireSmart Demonstration Area includes the parks water treatment plant. The materials used in the construction of the building exemplify the FireSmart principles such as asphalt shingles, small windows, and fire resistant siding. It has a high FireSmart Homeowner’s Assessment score and servers as a guide for home owners and businesses follow from when planning renovations and new building construction.
Glenn Rupert, Resource Management Officer said, “Parks Canada as an agency has a responsibility to protect communities and infrastructure around the park but we can’t go onto lease holder’s properties and do that. It’s up to individuals to learn about the FireSmart principles and implement those measures on their own to help reduce the chance of property lose.”
Rupert encourages people to do the online evaluation on the FireSmart website and visit the demonstration area. The area features three FireSmart priority zones to display fuel management strategies.
In Zone 1, visitors will observe a fire-resistant zone, free of materials that could easily ignite from a wildfire.
In Zone 2, evergreen trees are thinned and pruned, and deadfall is cleaned up to reduce fire hazards.
In Zone 3, space is created between trees and other flammable vegetation.
Once the work on the FireSmart Demonstration Area is completed, the public will be able to see, read, and learn about FireSmart principles in the townsite of Waskesiu, and understand how they can apply the same principles to their properties.
Properties at a distance from a wildfire are still at risk and may catch on fire from burning embers transported in the air. “If you have places where embers can get in or land those material could ignite. Embers can blow under a deck or porch that isn’t screened. Shingles and siding can easily catch fire from embers,” said Rupert.
The following simple steps help protect property and the community from the risk of fire:
- Clear fuel concentrations like dry leaves, twigs, and branches from around your home.
- Clear gutters, eaves and vents of collected materials.
- Keep windows clear.
- Trim trees.
- Keep your porch/deck clear of fuels or screened.
- Screen or seal all soffits.
- Take care of your lawn. Keep sprinklers handy.
- Visit FireSmart.ca to learn how to assess your property.
Parks Canada is collaborating with SaskPower and the Waskesiu Golf Course on the project. The safety of the public, crews, park infrastructure, and neighbouring lands is the park’s number one priority in vegetation management.
FireSmart is a nationwide program designed to help protect infrastructure and surrounding lands from wildfire. The program empowers individual homeowners and wider communities to take steps to reduce the impact of wildfire. FireSmart directs community members, community leaders, firefighters, and industry partners manage wildfire risks in natural and urban interfaced landscapes. Visit FireSmartCanada.ca for more information about the program.
East Boundary Fuel Break
Crews continue work in the East Boundary Fuel Break this winter and are currently collecting and burning brush piles in this area. The fuel break starts on highway 264 and runs one kilometre north along the park boundary. The fuel break is a tactic used to help prevent the spread of wildfire to the neighbouring communities of Elk Ridge and McPhee Lake.
Equipment for Loan
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are two popular winter pastimes in the national park, and this year there is enough snow to do both. Cross-country skis and snowshoes are available for loan to the public to help park visitors take part in these winter activities.
“The equipment provides opportunity for visitors to experience skiing and snowshoeing at no cost,” said Nancy Archer, Hotel Manager of the Hawood Inn. “It is a great way to see the beauty the park has to offer with no investment other than your time.”
The equipment was purchased several years ago by Park Canada and is managed at the Hawood Inn. The Hawood Inn’s extended hours allows the public to ski or snowshoe after dark under starry skies with a headlamp or in the early morning if they so choose.
“The small inventory of equipment is meant to help more people enjoy the outdoors. There is enough equipment and junior sizes for a family to have a great winter experience in the park,” said Townsite Manager Scott Nesbitt. “Experiencing the park through an activity like snowshoeing or skiing helps you stay warm while taking in the winter panorama.”
Visitors can snowshoe or hike some of their favourite summer trails. There isn’t a set path and visitors are free to explore the park as they choose. A popular place to snowshoe, is on a frozen lake such as Waskesiu. Snowshoe and hiking trails along clear roads ways are:
- Boundary Bog
- Mud Creek Trail
- Waskesiu River Trail
- Spruce River Highlands
- Treebeard Trail
- Freight Tait Springs Trail
Nesbitt said there are areas where visitors should not snowshoes such as near the edge of the lake or creek, near structures in the water (as there could be thin ice surrounding it), and on the ice near otter habitat such as the Narrows marina. “Structures in the water often have various thickness of ice surrounding them. Visitors should steer clear of exploring the ice near them to prevent mishaps,” said Nesbitt.
The park offers approximately 45 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails with varied terrain. The Prince Albert National Park Winter Guide and Trail Map includes information on the distance of each trail, the geography, and a rating of easy, moderate, or challenging. It also indicates the trails groomed for skate skiing and classic cross-country skiing. Cross-country ski trails include:
- Beaver Glen Reroute Trail (Red Deer campground)
- Wapiti Trail
- Red Deer Red Trail
- Red Deer Yellow Trail
- Fisher Trail
- Crean Trail
The trails are groomed by volunteers from the Waskesiu Lake Ski Club. Information on the conditions of the trails and the dates when the trail were last groomed is posted on the Waskesiu Chamber of Commerce website under activities: waskesiulake.ca/winter_activities.php
Skiers at the park can connect to the ski trials at Great Blue Heron Provincial Park via the Spruce River Highlands Trail. Trails can also be accessed trails at Jacobsen Bay on Anglin Lake; located approximately 40 kilometres from the park. Saskatchewan Parks manages 18 kilometres of groomed ski trails in the area. For information contact Great Blue Heron Provincial Park at 306-982-6250 or email: [email protected]
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