Located in Kananaskis Country, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is one of the largest provincial parks in Alberta. The park encompasses an impressive 74,880 acres of breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery and a host of outdoor recreation activities.
The park, which was officially established in 1977, was originally named Kananaskis Provincial Park. It wasn’t until 1986 that the park was renamed after the premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed. Premier Lougheed is believed to have created the park after taking a scenic helicopter tour over the area. Though, several key figures, including a Calgary environmentalist, Bill Milne, and Alberta Highways Minister Clarence Copithorne, contributed to the preservation of the land.
Prior to being discovered by European settlers, Peter Lougheed was home to the Stoney-Nakoda, Kootenai, Siksika, Kainai, Peigan, and Tsuut’ina people. Today, the art of Metis and Inuit students can be found on display in the Peter Lougheed Park Visitor Centre.
Peter Lougheed sits in the Front Ranges of the Canadian Rockies, preserving acres of snow-capped, craggy summits in the Kananaskis Lakes region. Impressive peaks like Mount Joffre, Mount Petain, Mount Robertson, Mount French, and Mount Sarrail tower to over 10,000 feet. Mount Joffre is the park’s highest summit and is the tallest peak in what is known as the World War One General Group, a set of summits located near the border of British Columbia.
Beneath these imposing summits, a series of stunning alpine lakes and u-shaped valleys decorate the landscape. A variety of wildlife can also be found throughout the park, including grizzly bears, black bears, elk, deer, moose, Rocky Mountain wolves, and bighorn sheep.
The Rawson Lake trail is considered by many to be one of the most scenic footpaths in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The trail begins at Upper Kananaskis Lake before dropping down to Sarrail Creek. From there, hikers will wade through a creek before branching off from the lakeshore trail to climb a series of switchbacks. After enduring the switchbacks, hikers are rewarded with incredible views of Rawson Lake and the rugged slopes of Mount Sarrail. From there, hikers can opt to continue toward Sarrail Ridge. The trek to Sarrail Ridge is a strenuous and steep climb that travels up an avalanche shoot. However, hikers willing to make the effort will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes, as well as the incredible Mount Indefatigable.
Chester Lake is a perfect year-round, family-friendly destination for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Follow the Chest Lake trail up an old logging road, peering back at Burstall Pass along the way. After a short distance, the emerald waters of Chester Lake will come into view with Mount Chester looming in the background. Just beyond Chester Lake are the Elephant Rocks, a set of giant, isolated boulders that can be climbed or admired from afar.
One of the most breathtaking destinations in Kananaskis, the trail to Burstall Pass winds through lush forest and willow flats to incredible views of Canadian Rocky summits, glaciers, and alpine meadows. After climbing roughly 1,500 feet and traversing 4.5 miles, hikers can also scramble to the summit of Snow Peak.
Nestled in Kananaskis Country, overlooking the Lower Kananaskis Lake, the William Watson Lodge opened in 1981 by Premier Peter Lougheed and his wife. The lodge is operated by Alberta Tourism and offers 22 accessible cottages, 13 full-service campsites, picnic sites, and roughly 9 miles of accessible trails. The lodge prides itself on being a wilderness destination catered to visitors with disabilities and Senior citizens. In fact, the lodge itself is named after an Albertan that spent most of his life trying to improve social and environmental conditions for people with disabilities.
Nicknamed the “Queen Town of the Rockies,” Canmore is often described as a picturesque mountain town enveloped by the majestic Canadian Rockies. Canmore offers unparalleled panoramic mountain views in every direction and boasts a number of popular lodges like the Falcon Crest Lodge, Stoneridge Mountain Resort, and Silvertip Resort. Visitors can not only access Bow Valley, Spray Valley, and Kananaskis Valley from Canmore, but can explore nearby summits like Ha Ling Peak, Read’s Tower, Sarrail Ridge, Mount Yamnuska, and Mount Lady Macdonald.