My BIG Alberta Backyard – Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Bighorn sheep roam through Peter Lougheed Park. This mother and baby peek out from behind paintbrush and yarrow, another beautiful wildflower that carpets the wild landscape. RICK PRICE


Alberta is a great place to live. It’s a big, beautiful province full of all kinds of natural wonders. In My Big Alberta Backyard, we introduce you to the unique and interesting wild spaces that you can find in your province, and the diverse wildlife that live there. This time, let’s explore Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. 

Who was Peter Lougheed? 

Peter Lougheed was the Premier of Alberta from 1971 until 1985. He was the head of a government that made great changes for our province to protect wild spaces and creatures, and he helped to create this beautiful provincial park. This means that the land is protected to keep the wildlife who live there safe. Its picturesque mountains, lakes, and forests are also a dedicated space for everyone to enjoy. The park was named after Mr. Lougheed when he retired. 

Upper Kananaskis Lake is the perfect spot to relax, have a picnic, or go for a swim or paddle. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can hike the whole way around the lake! SARA LORENZ

What Can You Do in the Park?

For starters, you can bike, swim, and camp amongst the breathtaking scenery. There are lots of cool places to check out in the park, including over 400 hiking trails! Many are not too long, like the 1982 Canadian Mount Everest Expedition Interpretive Trail, where you and your family can learn more about the park. It’s only 2.1 kilometres and has stairs to make the short climb a bit easier. You can also try horseback riding, geocaching, sailing, and wind surfing! In the winter, many people enjoy ice fishing and cross-country skiing in the park. 

What Will You See in the Park?  

Lush green trees as far as the eye can see, sparkling blue lakes, and towering old mountains make this park a place you won’t forget. You can also view roaring waterfalls! My favourite activity is hiking around the gorgeous Upper Kananaskis Lake to Sarrail Falls, which is only a 1.1-kilometre journey. The trailhead happens to be the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic or swim, too. 

Sarrail Falls are only a short jaunt partway around Upper Kananaskis Lake, with breathtaking views at every turn. SARA LORENZ

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is also an important space for wildlife. Both grizzly and black bears live in the park, along with moose, deer, elk, and lots of bighorn sheep. Sometimes you might even encounter a wildlife traffic jam. Although you won’t likely see wolves, lynx, and cougars, these elusive creatures also thrive in this landscape. 

Prairie-fire, paintbrush, or Castilleja — whatever name you call it, this wildflower paints the park with its variety of vibrant colours. SARA LORENZ

If you visit in late summer, you’ll also see my favourite flower: Castilleja, or paintbrush. This uniquely shaped bloom comes in a variety of lovely colours, including a vivid red-orange hue that gives it the nickname prairie-fire.

In the fall you can view something truly magical: golden larches. These are a special type of pine tree whose needles change from green to gold in autumn. 

When you visit, remember to leave no trace. Take home lots of photos and memories, but no plants, animals, or other natural features. Respect the animals in Peter Lougheed Park by giving them plenty of space. No matter how you like to spend time outdoors, you will find something to love about this gorgeous and wild space in Alberta.

Sara Lorenz is an aspiring editor who loves to explore Alberta’s natural landscapes. Sara feels most at peace in Alberta’s wild places and has been passionate about camping and hiking in our parks since childhood. 

This article originally ran in Nature Alberta Magazine – Summer 2023.