Categories > Daytrips

10 Unique Places, Events and Attractions in the Athabasca Region

The Athabasca Region has a lot of what you might expect… forests, lakes, trails, community events and small-town charm. We also have some unique places, activities and events you won’t find elsewhere!

From a BBQ at the Athabasca Airport to a triathlon that includes the Athabasca River, The Athabasca Region has something for an entertaining day trip, an active weekend getaway or a week of exploration. #LiveLifeOutside in the #AthabascaRegion


 

Athabasca Airport Fly-In BBQ

Every July, Athabasca County hosts the Fly-In BBQ at the Athabasca Airport! It’s an annual family event that locals and visitors love!

The airport is about 8 km northeast of Athabasca, about 2 hours north of Edmonton and 3 hours south of Fort McMurray.  Parking is available, but it gets busy so you may have to walk in a bit.

There is a free BBQ, activities for the kids, and a classic car show. It’s a fun family afternoon, especially for those who love planes!

Pilots can fly their planes to the BBQ, and join in from around the province. If you are a pilot who would like to fly in, please be sure to register: athabascacounty.com/PILOT-REGISTRATION

Learn more here!

 

Workout at the Athabasca Riverfront

Athabasca’s Riverfront Park is the beautiful heart of the town. It’s a place where folks meet up, grab lunch at one of the food trucks or launch their boat in the river. There’s a playground, a splash park and a skate park.

Adjacent to the playground is one of Athabasca’s unique amenities: the outdoor training circuit. A circuit of machines that use body weight to provide resistance is set up so you can work out while the kids play in the playground. Or maybe the kids want to work out too!

After your workout, everyone can come together around one of the firepits for a fire, roast some hotdogs, and watch the river go by.

 

Athabasca’s “Hollywood” Style Welcome Sign

Athabasca doesn’t have much in common with Hollywood, except for one thing… a big sign on a hill!

Kind of like the famous Holywood sign, on the north shore of the Athabasca River, across from Downtown Athabasca, is a sign up on the bank welcoming folks to town and asking everyone to keep things green by preventing forest fires! It’s a little smaller, well, a lot smaller, but you can’t miss it! Even the locals call it the Holywood sign.

You can get to the site, which is at Lion’s Centennial Park, by crossing the bridge (Hwy 813) and turning left at the sign. The park has amenities to enjoy the view of the town while picnicking or relaxing in the gazebo.

Even this view is unique! Not many Alberta towns boast a view of their home like this!

 

Athabasca Historical Walking Tour

Learn about the history of Athabasca on this unique walking tour of the Town.  The Athabasca Heritage Society in partnership with the Alice B. Donahue Library and Archives publishes a guide booklet with detailed descriptions of the landmarks and buildings.

There are many stops on the walk, 29 in total. At some places along the way, there will be signs that give you a brief history and context.

The walk starts at the Athabasca Train Station, moves through Downtown and up to the Archives and Old Brick School, and then you head back down to the Riverfront.

Take a look at some of the sites you’ll visit: Athabasca Historical Walking Tour Gallery

So, put on some comfortable shoes, fill up your water bottle and enjoy this self-guided tour of Athabasca History. It’s like an outdoor museum!

Athabasca Historical Walking Tour Guide Book

 

Amber Valley Museum & Cultural Centre

One of the unique stories in the history of the Athabasca Region is that of the people who settled Amber Valley, about 20 km east of Athabasca on Highway 55.

In the early 1900s, many African American people, escaping from the conditions in America, settled in various parts of Western Canada. Amber Valley is one of those places.

The Amber Valley Cultural Centre is where the ancestors of the original settlers and the community come together for events and celebrations. Watch our calendar for their Chicken Suppers!

The Amber Valley Cultural Centre hosts a collection of memorabilia from the Amber Valley settlers. Call 780-675-3490 to book a tour of the collection.

 


 

Antique and Collectables Collection at Island Lake

A hidden gem of the region is “Bill’s Garage Sale” and “Val’s Cabin”, a unique site tucked into the forest at Island Lake.

Bill’s Garage Sale is the ongoing project of Bill Desrosier. For over 25 years, Bill has been building his collection of antiques and collectibles, in his RV garage. It’s a fascinating step back in time, with more things to look at than you have time for!

And it is a garage sale! Bring some cash because you’ll want to pick up a few pieces.

After you visit Bill, Val Desrosier can show you the Cabin.

It is a re-assembled log cabin that’s lovingly set up with antiques and household items, in a museum-style display. There is Ukrainian art, historical pictures and even a machine used to knit socks!

They are open for visitors from spring to fall. Please call 780-675-5452 to check hours and availability.

 


 

Trail Running & Athabasca River Access at River Meadows RV Park

Another unique place in the Athabasca region is River Meadows RV Park. For outdoor adventurers who like various activities, River Meadows has many right at your doorstep!

This privately owned RV park is about ten minutes north of Athabasca, close to Athabasca Golf and Country Club. The campsites are located just steps away from the Athabasca River.  They offer seasonal and short-term stays.

The site offers access to get your watercraft into the river. You could paddle a canoe or kayak or launch your jet boat. There is an opportunity to fish off of the bank as well.

Once you have finished your river adventure, you can take in the amazing Boreal forest on a run or hike on the many trails. Some of the trails offer quite a challenge, being on the steep banks of the Athabasca.

Visit their website for more info and to book a site: rivermeadowsrvpark.weebly.com

 

Kapâwinihk Triathlon

Those trails at River Meadows? They are part of one of the Region’s unique events, the Kapâwinihk Triathlon.

This triathlon is unique in that instead of swim/bike/run it’s bike/paddle/run. Contestants start at Riverfront Park in Athabasca on their bikes and head out to the Muskeg  Creek trail system on the west side of Athabasca.

After finishing their loop on the bike trails, contestants jump in or on their watercraft (canoes for teams, kayaks and paddle boards) and launch into the Athabasca River. They follow the river downstream for approximately 8 km until they reach River Meadows RV park.

Here, the contestants don their trail runners and head out for 5 or 10 km of trail running through the boreal bush.

They are finally welcomed to the finish line with a BBQ and growler of craft beer! It’s always a challenge and always a good time!

Visit their website for details and to enter: www.parallel54.org

 

Par 3/Disc/Fling/Soccer Golf at Rockylane Fairways & Recreation

If golf is more your recreational style, check out Rocky Lane Fairways and Recreation. They have a unique course set up so players can enjoy traditional golf, disc golf, fling golf and soccer golf, all at the same time!

Rocky Lane is located just south of Athabasca, close to accommodations and restaurants, and if you are looking for a camping spot, they have unserviced lots for you to set up camp.

It’s a gorgeous and well-maintained par 3 course, with water features and a lot of bush. You can rent gear or bring your own.

Call 780-327-9671 to book your tee time or visit their website for more info: rockylanefairways.wixsite.com/recreation

 

Xcalibre Paint Ball

Are you looking for a unique group experience that involves shooting skills, stealth and a lot of fun? Then paintball at Xcalibre Paintball should be on your bucket list.

Located 14 km south of Boyle, close to Long Lake Provincial Park, and tucked into the Boreal forest, the property has multiple playing fields and obstacle courses.

You can rent gear or bring your own. If you are looking for a group experience, make a reservation, if you want to try it out, you can join with other players on the course. Open to all ages, but minors must have a parent’s signature.

Check out their website for more info: www.xcalibrepaintball.com

 


Now that you know some of the special and unique places, events and activities in the Athabasca Region, be sure to experience one or all of them the next time you visit. Tag your social posts with #VisitTheAthabascaRegion to share your experiences!

Tourism Spotlight: River Meadows RV Park

If you are looking for a place to camp with access to hiking, boating, canoeing, and golf and is just minutes away from the amenities of Athabasca, look no further than River Meadows RV Park. River Meadows is a family-run business that developed the site on their property because they knew it was a special place and wanted to share it with others.

River Meadows is 2 hours north of Edmonton and St. Albert and 3 hours south of Ft. McMurray.


All photos by River Meadows RV Park


The Campground

River Meadows RV Park is nestled in the Boreal forest on the banks of the Athabasca River, just a few minutes north of Athabasca. It offers guests generously sized spots for either short-term or seasonal stays. Some sites back into the bush and others have river views. All have fire pits and picnic tables.

While the sites are unserviced, seasonal campers can set up water and sewer tanks. The Athabasca sani dump is just a few minutes away.

A Google reviewer said:

“We spent last summer hanging out here and can’t wait until spring arrives so we can get right back to our favorite spot. This is a place where you can do it all! Quadding, boating, hiking, fishing, foraging, and yet you have everything 10 mins away.”

 

 

Athabasca River Access

River Meadows offers a great location to enjoy the Athabasca River, in many ways! You can launch your river boat, canoe or kayak for a trip down the river. Or if you are into fishing, there are spots you can fish off of the bank.

They have a day-use area if you’d like to have a picnic and a swim in the channel by the nearby island.

 

Hiking/Biking Trails

River Meadows also has many trails, set in the forest and along the river. You can hike, run or ride your bike just steps away from your campsite.

The trail system is available for day use. Please let them know you’ll be on the trails at rivermeadowsrvpark@gmail.com or call  (780) 689-1565 or (780) 689-1398.

The Kapâwinihk Triathalon

The Kapâwinihk Wilderness Triathalon is a new and exciting annual event hosted at River Meadows. It is a unique event, in that instead of bike/swim/run, triathletes bike/paddle/trail run. 

The race begins in the Town of Athabasca where the cyclists start at the Riverfront Park. They make their way through the Muskeg Creek trails and back down to the river. There, they launch from Riverfront Park into the Athabasca River and paddle a few kilometres downstream. When they get to River Meadows, they run the trails through the forest!

The event ends with a barbeque and frosty beer in the green space at River Meadows. It’s a great day for athletes of all levels. Learn more here: www.parallel54.org.

 

Annual Athabasca Riverboat Association Rally

River Meadows also participates in the annual Jet Boat Rally, running from Athabasca, downriver to the Riverside Recreation Area (Learn more: www.facebook.com/jetboattheathabasca). River Meadows offers a stop where boaters can grab some BBQ lunch and pick up a card for the poker run.

Book Your Spot

Check out River Meadows’ website for more information and online booking: rivermeadowsrvpark.weebly.com

Share photos of your River Meadows experience with the hashtag #VisitTheAthabascaRegion. #LiveLifeOutside

Tourism Spotlight: Athabasca & Boyle Farmers’ Markets

The Athabasca Region is lucky to have 2 fantastic Farmers’ Markets during the summer and for one, the winter as well! They are the Athabasca Farmers’ Market and the Boyle Farmers’ Market. Both are essential parts of their respective communities! Providing opportunities for Athabasca Region vendors to sell to the public and improving the local economy.

 


 

Athabasca Farmers’ Market

The Athabasca Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday in the Summer from 10 am to 2 pm. You can find an amazing selection of vendors set up at the Athabasca Riverfront Park. On an occasional Saturday, you might find them at the Senior Center or another location in Downtown Athabasca, due to another event happening at the Riverfront.

There is a great selection of Make It – Bake It – Grow It items including baked goods, meats, produce (in the summer), and food from around the world! There are also artisan crafts, handmade soaps and personal care items, 3-D printed toys, yard art and more. There are new vendors all the time!

The Athabasca Farmers’ Market is also a mainstay of Athabasca’s big Canada Day celebration! They partner with The Magnificent River Rats Festival and hold their market with the festival.

For most of the summer Markets, Athabasca’s multiple food trucks show up at the Riverfront to offer delicious lunches and snacks!

The Market is located at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex during the winter months on every second Saturday until Christmas. Many of the same vendors come to the Winter markets, except produce vendors. They usually take a break for March and April and start up again on the first Saturday of May.

Here is some history of the Athabasca Farmers’ Market, from founder Yvonne McDermid:

Having moved here from St. Albert – the city known for having Western Canada’s Largest Outdoor Farmers’ Market, I was anxious to plant the seed for a Farmers’ Market here in Athabasca.   After the closure of the old Farmers Market location on the corner of 49 St and 49 Ave., I contacted the Manager of the St. Albert Market and asked her how I would go about starting a market here in Athabasca.  With the government documents in hand I approached the President of the Chamber of Commerce – who I believe was Trevor Martin at the time, to sponsor the first, Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market in Athabasca.  In approx 2005 or 06 the market saw its beginning in the lower level of the Community Hall .  When the community hall was scheduled for demolition the Market moved to the basement in the Legion. The chamber of Commerce decided it was no longer financially sustainable and withdrew its support – so with no revenue, no vision, and no direction, it suffered a slow death, finally closing its doors in about 2009.

In the fall of 2011, myself and 4 other like-minded individuals, who wanted to see the resurrection of an Athabasca Farmers’ Market, formed our own Not-for-Profit Society for the sole purpose of sponsoring this market.  This not-for-profit society was originally called North Country Community Council   With a generous donation from an anonymous gentleman in our community, we were able to get the Market off the ground in Nov of 2011.   Two years later, with grants from both the Town and County, and a name change to Athabasca Market Association, we were on our feet and on the road to success.  Athabasca has such a beautiful river setting so moving the market outdoors in the summer was always my dream and it was finally realized in the summer of 2012.  I remember that year struggling to get 7 or 8 vendors out – now we fill that space with 30-40 tents every Sat. May – Sept with vendors coming from as far away as Ft.McMurray, & Edmonton.

Many people are not aware of the differences that exist in Farmers’ Markets – If you have an “Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market”, which we do, you work in conjunction with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and your local health inspector.  All our food vendors are required to complete an On-line Food Safety Course.  As an approved market we also encourage and prefer the “Make it, Bake it, Grow it,” vendors and are restricted to allow no more than 20% Multiple Level Sales at our Market.

 You’ve probably seen this little farm girl with blue overalls and straw hat on our printed advertisements but weren’t aware of its significance. This Sunnygirl logo is the trademarked logo for Alberta Approved Farmers’ Markets.  It helps the consumer identify that the market is approved and they are affiliated with a chain of high quality markets offering Alberta-produced products that consumers can trust.  It indicates that we have met the government guidelines to offer you the best market experience possible.

 

Visit the Athabasca Farmer’s Market on Facebook to learn more and to stay up-to-date with vendors and Market dates. You can check out their Instagram, too.

 


 

Boyle Farmers’ Market

The Boyle Farmers’ Market is held on Thursdays from noon to 3 pm, May to September, at the Boyle Community Centre in Downtown Boyle. Boyle Ag Society is its main sponsor.

At the Boyle market, you’ll find a great assortment of baked goods, home preserves, crochet toys, woodworking and more. They feature fresh seasonal vegetables later in the summer.

You can find some special markets during the summer! They will be at the Boyle Wildberry Festival, and the Shoreline Shore RV park, plus they have Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas season special markets. You can stock up on all your holiday treats!

Visit the Boyle Ag Society’s Facebook page for more information.

 

Make it a day trip!

Boyle and Athabasca are within day-trip distances from Edmonton, Fort McMurray, St. Albert and other regional locations. Make a day of it by visiting the Farmers’ Market, having some lunch and then finishing off with a hike!

Share photos of your Farmers’ Market finds with the hashtag #VisitTheAthabascaRegion. #LiveLifeOutside

Tourism Spotlight: Rocky Lane Fairways and Recreation

Rocky Lane Fairways and Recreation is one of the Athabasca Regon’s unique tourism destinations. It’s a Par 3 golf course just south of Athabasca, about 1 and a half hours north of Edmonton.  They offer a unique experience by having 4 different types of golf available, which can be played simultaneously by your group. How great is that?



The Course

The course is set in the Boreal Forest, with rolling hills and natural water features. It’s beautifully landscaped and offers some great views.

Rocky Lane is located just off Hwy 2 for easy access. It’s about 10 minutes to the town of Athabasca where you can find hotels, Airbnb’s, restaurants and other services.

 

 

5 Ways to Golf

At Rocky Lane, golf can be fun for everyone! Whether you are an experienced golfer, an up-and-coming disc golf player or have never golfed, there is a way to experience the beautiful course and have fun.

You can play 9 or 18 holes on the par 3 course for traditional golf. There are clubs to rent if you don’t have your own.

Disc golf is a sport that is rising in popularity. Disc golf involves throwing a disc (think Frisbee) down the course to land in a basket. Rocky Lane has one of the highest-rated Disc Golf courses in Alberta.

They have hosted several tournaments in the past few years. Watch for two tournaments they have coming up, The Hidden Gem and Wally’s 100th. Get more information about these tournaments here: The Hidden Gem June 15 -16, 2024   |  Wally’s 100th

Fling golf is similar to traditional golf, using the same ball, but instead of hitting the ball, you fling it, similar to lacrosse.

For those players who are new to the game, there is foot golf or soccer golf. For this version, you kick a soccer ball along the course into a “hole” under the disc golf baskets. This could be a great way for younger kids to golf with their parents!

Finally, you don’t have to be a fair-weather golfer at Rocky Lane! They have two indoor golf simulators available year-round. Keep your swing in shape all winter long!

You can rent the gear you need for disc, fling and soccer golf, so don’t worry about having your own.

A Google reviewer said:

“Great course. I’ve tried the disc golf and the fling golf. Both are a lot of fun. It is a great way to have a good time with friends and family. The course is in a great shape, the owner is very friendly and helpful. Highly recommend.”

 

RV Park

Rocky Lane has a 10-site RV park available to make a play-and-stay getaway! Each unserviced site has a fire pit and picnic table. Firewood is available to purchase. The RV site can be booked by individuals or groups, for events.

Events

Rocky Lane can accommodate you if you are looking for a beautiful outdoor venue for your next family or corporate event. They have tables and chairs for 2oo people as well as tents, BBQ’s, sound system and more. There is ample parking for all of your guests.

Book Your Round

To book your next round of par 3, disc, fling, or soccer golf or your upcoming event, call 780-327-9671. Visit rockylanefairways.wixsite.com/recreation for more information.

Share photos of your Rocky Lane experience with the hashtag #VisitTheAthabascaRegion. #LiveLifeOutside

4 Routes for Bird and Wildlife Viewing in the Athabasca Region

The Athabasca Region is nestled in the southern part of the mixed-wood boreal forest, providing excellent habitat for birds, mammals, amphibians, insects and more! This creates great opportunities for wildlife spotting, photography and viewing. Each season there is a varied cast of characters for you to see. Spring is a great time for returning migratory birds.

The Athabasca Region has viewing platforms and other infrastructure to help make your wildlife watching easier. All of the routes have ample camping spots, so you can take your time to tour all of the sites. So bring your binoculars or telephoto lens to glimpse some of the iconic species in the Athabasca Region! #LiveLifeOutside

Here are some routes to help you plan a wildlife-viewing adventure…

 

Tips for Successful Wildlife Viewing

  • The wildlife you might see depends on the seasons. Some birds may live here all year and others migrate here.
  • Some of these sites are more remote and may not be accessible by all people. Many viewing platforms have ramps, but getting to them may be a challenge.
  • Many roads are gravel, so be prepared for the driving conditions.
  • Don’t feed or harass wildlife and stay a safe distance away.
  • Keep your pet leashed. Dogs can scare wildlife.
  • Dress for the weather. Layers are best in our climate!
  • Be respectful of the habitat and leave no trace.
  • Have fun!

Here are some guides produced by Crooked Creek Conservancy and partners. They have some basic maps, lists of species and details on when and where to best view them.

Birds of the Athabasca Region Guide  | Mammals of the Athabasca Region Guide

 

South of Athabasca

A great wildlife-watching day trip or overnight from Edmonton!

Leave from Edmonton or St. Albert and drive north on Hwy 2 to Rochester. Turn into Rochester and follow Range Road 240A north out of the village. The viewpoint is about 7 km north. There is a sign to mark the entrance.

From there make your way north-west to Narrow Lake Campground. Travel north to Perryvale and get back onto Hwy 2. Travel north to Hwy 663 and turn west. Follow to TWP 650 (its a bit of a jig and a jag, so consult your maps). Follow west then forth to the campground. There are tables and fire-pits in the day-use area and this would make a good spot to view, as it is adjacent to some riparian areas where birds and wildlife might hang out.

Depending on how long you want to spend, from here you could visit Cross Lake Provincial Park or head north to Baptiste Lake. Cross Lake has a viewing platform that is a bit of a hike in, but is an undisturbed area so viewing might be good!

To get to the Baptiste Lake Campground, take TWP 652 east to Hwy 812 and head north. This will take you to Baptiste Lake. Turn west to Baptiste Lake and follow Baptiste Dr. to the campground. When you arrive at the Baptiste Lake Campground, follow the road north a bit and you will see some picnic tables along the bank. This area is a little more secluded and away from the busy beach area.

When you are finished at Baptiste, head east on Hwy 2 to Athabasca for a delicious meal at one of our great restaurants or stay overnight. From Athabasca, it’s just 1.5 hours back to Edmonton.

 

Tawatinaw River Viewpoint

 

Narrow Lake

 

Baptiste Lake Day Use Area

 

North of Athabasca

North of Athabasca there are some opportunities to do some viewing right on the Athabasca River and then at Calling Lake Provincial Park.

Travel north from Athabasca on Highway 813. The first place to access the river on this route is River Meadows RV Park. They are a private RV park but have a day-use area right on the river bank. Their site is also adjacent to a meander that might be a great spot to view all sorts of wildlife. If you want to stop in for the day, please contact them here. Or better yet, if you are combining your wildlife viewing with camping, stay the night!

From there you can return to Highway 813 and follow it to Riverside Recreation Park. Turn east on Twp Rd 684. Turn right on Range Road 214 and continue until you reach the campground. There is access to the river, a day-use area and camping.

From there return to Highway 813 and follow it north to Calling Lake Provincial Park Campground. There are a few secluded spots along the lake bank where some birds and other wildlife might be hanging out.

 

 

Northwest of Athabasca

This route is a longer day trip from Edmonton or Athabasca. There are plenty of camping or lodging opportunities if you want to stay overnight.

From Athabasca, follow Highway 2 West then north. Turn east on TWP road 673 and follow to RR235. Head north to TWP road 680. Turn east and follow to the campground. Island Lake has a viewing platform that is a short hike from the campground.

From there, make your way back to RR 235 and turn north. Travel a few kilometres until you get to TWP road 682 and turn east. Travel east to RR 234 and travel north to the Chain Lakes Provincial Recreation Area Campground. Chain Lakes has an open beach for birdwatching and provides self-registration campsites.

From Chain Lakes PRA, head back down to TWP 682 and travel west until you get to Hwy 2. Turn north and travel 15 km to the Lawrence Lake Provincial Recreation area. The campsite is just off the highway. There is a day-use area where you can set up.

Island Lake Campground

 

Boyle – East Athabasca County

The Boyle area offers multiple birdwatching opportunities and wildlife spotting. Much of this area is connected to a large section of undisturbed Boreal forest. There are also a varied selection of camping opportunities.

Travel north from Edmonton to Waskatenau. Just before Waskatenau, turn north onto Hwy 831 at the traffic circle. Follow Hwy 831 to Long Lake Provincial Park. Turn east on TWP 631A and follow to the campground. Two sections of the campground offer birdwatching opportunities. There is a day-use and beach area in the north section and a smaller dock and beach section in the south section.

The trailhead leading to the White Earth Valley Natural Area is at the far south end of the south section. Along the trail, there are multiple spots to set up for your bird and wildlife viewing experience.

From Long Lake/White Earth, head back to Hwy 831 and travel north towards Boyle. After stopping for refreshments at Boyle, travel north on Hwy 63 to TWP 654 and follow the signs to Hope Lake Campground.

Hope Lake offers a beach and dock area for observation and an extensive trail system that follows the lake. There are many riparian areas where you will find birds and wildlife.

From Hope Lake, head back to Hwy 63 and travel north a short distance to TWP 662. Follow the signage to North Buck Lake Narrows Campground. This campground had a birdwatching platform that overlooks a narrowing with a lot of wildlife-friendly vegetation.

If you plan on making more of an overnight or multi-day trip, you could continue north on Hwy 63, turn west on Hwy 55 and head to Poacher’s Landing. Turn west on Hwy 55 and follow a short distance to RR 194 A, which leads to the Alberta Pacific pulp mill. Foll north to TWP 690 and turn east. Follow a short distance to the Poacher’s Landing entrance. When you get to the park sign, take the left road to the campsite. Poacher’s Landing has a day-use area and 6 first-come first-serve campsites. From the boat launch area, you’ll see several islands in the river that are home to many birds.

If you travel from Fort McMurray, follow this route in the opposite order!

Long Lake Provincial Park/White Earth Valley Natural Area

Hope Lake Campground

 

Poacher’s Landing

 

Share Your Photos

Whichever route you choose, we hope you get some great photos! Share on social media with the hashtag #VisitTheAthabascaRegion! If you have any questions, contact us here.

12 Winter Getaways in the Athabasca Region

This winter, get out of town for a day, a weekend or a week to the Athabasca Region! The air is crisp, the forest is quiet, and there is a getaway for you to discover.

Whether looking for unique thrift items, relaxing with your family around a cozy fireplace or sledding the Athabasca River at a remote cabin resort, there is a trip that fits your interests, timeline and budget.

Be sure to visit our Events calendar to see what is happening in the Region during your stay!

Winter activities are dependent on weather and snow conditions. If you need information about local conditions email: ted@athabascacounty.com or contact your host.

Winter 2024 dates for the Athabasca Farmers’ Market are: Feb 17, Mar 2,  16 & 30


Saturday Day Trips

 

1. Boyle History Walk, Lunch & Downtown!

When: Any Saturday!
For a Saturday day trip, visit the Village of Boyle! About 1 hour 45 minutes from Edmonton and 2.5 hours from Fort McMurray, Boyle makes a great day trip to get out of the city. It offers small-town charm, a walking trail and access to cottage country and wilderness in Athabasca County East.

  • When you arrive, do the Boyle Historical Walking Trails through town
  • Grab a delicious lunch at one of Boyle’s great restaurants!
  • Stroll through Downtown and check out the unique shops and small-town charm
  • Be home for the hockey game!

 

 

2. Athabasca Farmers’ Market & Muskeg Creek Hike/Snowshoe/Ski

When: Saturdays in February and March
An active day trip that gives you a chance to stock up on some of the great artisan goodies and crafts at the Farmers’ Market, then experience the Muskeg Creek trail system!

 

 

3. Downtown Athabasca Thrifts & Finds Crawl

When: Any Saturday!

Downtown Athabasca hosts an eclectic selection of second-hand and thrift shops, fashionable boutiques and unique finds! We have planned out a route for you right here: Athabasca Thrift and Finds Crawl

 

 

4. Athabasca History Walk

When: Any Saturday!

If you love history and walking, you’ll love the Athabasca Historical Walking Tour. It winds its way through Downtown Athabasca, with interpretive signage telling the story of the settlement of Athabasca through its historical buildings.

  • Fuel up at Paddymelon with a hot drink and snack
  • Head down to the Train Station for the first stop on the tour
  • Follow the tour book. Download Here
  • Finish off with a delicious meal at a Downtown restaurant: Family Dining   Fast Food

 

 


Overnight Getaways

 

5. Friday Night, Date Night

When: Any Friday/Saturday!

Have a relaxing “date night’ getaway with your love!

Stay in Athabasca: Hotel/Motels Short-Term Rentals

  • Saturday morning, grab a coffee and a wrap at Paddymelon Gifts, Espresso & Eatery.
  • Check out downtown shops
  • Stroll Rotary Trail at the Riverfront Park
  • Visit the Farmers Market at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex on your way back home (various weekends in Feb/March)

 

 

6. Best of Athabasca

When: Weekends in February and March

On this active weekend itinerary, you’ll experience some of the best that the Town of Athabasca has to offer.

  • Arrive Saturday early afternoon, go to Farmer’s Market and pick up some home-style treats and artisan goodies
  • Rent snowshoes from the Multiplex and hike the Muskeg Creek Trails
  • After supper Downtown, stroll Rotary Trail/Riverfront Park,
  • Drinks at Neighbour’s Pub to end the evening!

Stay in Athabasca: Hotel/Motels Short-Term Rentals

 

 

7. Lake Getaway – West

When: Anytime, based on availability.

If you’re looking for something closer to nature, the west Athabasca County Lake Country has a few lakeside cabins to rent. Relax with family or friends in scenic Boreal lake settings.

  • Arrive Saturday, hit the Athabasca Farmers’ Market (www.facebook.com/athabascafarmersmarket) and stores to stock up on the way through town
  • Check into your cabin rental
  • Snowmobile the vast River Runner’s trail system
  • Icefish on the lake
  • Contact your host for their recommendations on winter recreational activities

 

 

8. Lake Getaway – East

When: Anytime, based on availability.

The East side of Athabasca County has a few cabins to rent, too. Surround yourself with a picturesque Boreal setting.

  • Arrive Saturday, stop in Boyle to stock up on the way through town
  • Check into your cabin rental
  • Take advantage of the Chump Lake trails for snowshoeing and snowmobiling
  • Contact your host for their recommendations for winter recreational activities

 

 


Wilderness Experiences

 

9. River Runners Snowmobile Trails

When: Anytime, based on snow conditions!

If you love sledding, the Athabasca region has some great trails, especially routed for snowmobilers. Take a look at their maps and info here. Call ahead to check conditions and pay your trail fee.

You can stay in Athabasca or rent a West County cabin on Airbnb.

 

10. Grand Rapids Snowmobile Adventures

When: Various Weekends 

Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventures hosts weekend expeditions at their remote cabin resort located on the banks of the Athabasca River. They provide cozy cabins, meals and more.

Learn more here

 

11. Reel Angling Ice Fishing

When: Anytime based on ice conditions!

Let an experienced local guide show you the best spots to ice fish! Ice fishing packages for the day, weekend or week are available. Take a look at their website for more info or contact them at:

780-916-9768

 

12. Winter Wilderness Camping

When: Anytime!

The Athabasca Region offers some excellent winter back-country camping:

La Biche River Wildland Provincial Park

Hubert Lake Wildland Provincial Park

Peace River Wilderness Trail

Winter camping tips:

  • Dress in layers
  • Be prepared for all kinds of weather
  • You may need to bring firewood
  • You may need to bring potable water
  • Showers and flush toilets will most likely be closed
  • Animal-proof food storage is essential
  • Make sure someone knows your location and timeline

Follow Athabasca Region Tourism on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to post pics of your winter adventures. Tag us at @visitathabasca #VisitTheAthabascaRegion #LiveLifeOutside

7 Winter Walks You Can Do In the Athabasca Region

Ready for an active getaway?

For some, the chilly weather makes them curl up under a blanket and stay cozy until spring. If you’re the opposite, and the brisk air makes you want to get outside and move, then the Athabasca region has some great outdoor walks that can be done in the winter!

If it snows a lot, most of these walks are well-maintained sidewalks, so no trudging. On the nature trails, grab some snowshoes or cross-country skis and move across the land and snow that way.

If you use AllTrails, check out the Athabasca region maps and contribute your own walk/run/ski to add to the route listings. We have added some AllTrail links to the article.

Whatever walk you choose (or walks, because how can you choose just one?), you’ll see how easy it is to enjoy the outdoors and experience an active getaway for the day, weekend or week in the Athabasca Region! #LiveLifeOutside


1. Boyle Historical Walk

On the outskirts of the Village of Boyle, you’ll find the Boyle Historical Walking Trails. The trail system was established by the Boyle Community Betterment Committee to commemorate the centennial of the village.

Starting at the Boyle Campground, follow the trail to the west. You can then turn south and then back down to town.

 

Food and Accommodations in Boyle

After your hike, hit up one of Boyle’s homestyle eating establishments like Boyle Pizza House, Pepper Tree Café, or Hooters Truck Stop Restaurant.

Boyle is 3 hours from Fort McMurray and 1 hour 40 minutes from Edmonton. If you want to stay overnight, check out the accommodations: Airbnb, and Boyle Hotels.

 

2. Athabasca Rotary Trail

The Athabasca Rotary Trail is a paved walking trail that takes you from one end of Athabasca right to the Muskeg Creek Trail system. If you started on the east end of Athabasca, you could follow the trail down the hill, under the HWY 55 bridge, west along the riverfront until you get to Hwy 55 again. You could continue to the west and meet up with the Muskeg Trail System.

There are informational signs, telling the story of the Athabasca River and Athabasca Landing. There is a great view of the Old Bridge in the distance.

The Riverfront walk is about 2.5 km long, relatively flat and fully paved. The Riverfront Park has firepits to warm up with, with firewood for sale at the Husky Market across the highway.

  • The Rotary trail is cleared by the Town after a snowfall.

Rotary Riverfront on AllTrails

 

 

 

 

3. Athabasca History Walk

a display of antique and historical items at the Athabasca Archives

The Town of Athabasca played an important role in the history of Northern Alberta. Athabasca Landing was a transportation hub connecting Edmonton and northern settlements. The river was the highway the town the gathering area.

Many of the historical buildings and sites remain in the town and the Athabasca Historical Society created a historical walk to tell their stories.

The walk wanders through Downtown Athabasca, down to the Riverfront and back. End your walk with a visit to the extensive collection at the Athabasca Archives.

Read the Blog

Download the PDF

  • The sidewalks on this walk are generally cleared after a snowfall.

 

 

 

4. Athabasca Thrift & Finds Crawl

Love thrifting, unique finds and a good walk? Then the Athabasca Thrift and Finds crawl is for you!

This walk visits the excellent thrift stores Athabasca hosts, with high quality and unique second-hand finds. You’ll also visit some unique boutiques that curate eclectic and thoughtful collections.

There are plenty of stops for snacks, meals or coffee, so take your time and refresh yourself during your exciting haul!!!

Read the Blog for route and descriptions.

  • The sidewalks on this walk are generally cleared after a snowfall.

 

5. Muskeg Creek Trails

One of the best attractions in the Town of Athabasca is the Muskeg Creek Park trail system! The park is located on the west side of Athabasca, adjacent to the University of Athabasca campus. It is a beautiful slice of the Boreal Forest, within the Town of Athabasca.

There are multiple loops of varying distances and elevations.

“The Muskeg Creek Valley is a steep-sided, heavily wooded ravine located west of the downtown area and adjacent to Athabasca University.  Covering an area of 17.5 square kilometres with an elevation change of 50 meters, it is easy to get away from the sights and sounds of the nearby urban area.”

  • In the winter, the trail system is groomed for in-line and skate cross-country skiing. You can rent snowshoes from the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, as well.

Learn more and download a map here

Muskeg Creek on AllTrails

University Loop on AllTrails

 

6. Athabasca Landing/Trans Canada Trail

The Athabasca Landing/Trans Canada Trail is a historical travel route that followed the Tawatinaw River Valley from Edmonton in the 1800’s.

The trailhead is situated right in the Town of Athabasca, with easy access from Hwy 55 and plenty of parking. This is an in & out trail that can be followed all the way to the Village of Colinton. You can also park at the trailhead in Colinton. The point-to-point distance is approx 13 km.

  • This trail is not groomed in the winter. Some sections may become packed, but snowshoes or skis are recommended. Bridge repair is ongoing and may be unpassable.

Athabasca Landing Trail on AllTrails

Follow the trail to Colinton

 

7. Centennial Park – North Shore of Athabasca River

When you look across the Athabasca River from Riverfront Park, you will see a big welcome sign on the north shore. The sign, and an amazing view of the Town of Athabasca, can be found at Athabasca Centennial Park. The also serves as a starting point for a walk along the river and into the forest.

Walk west of the park along the River Ave trail. You can turn and walk north for about another 1 km. The total distance is about 3 km.

  • This is an in-and-out trail that is not groomed in the winter.

 

Bonus Walk!

Would you like to experience the terrain that the triathletes participating in the Kapâwinihk Wilderness Triathlon run/walk? It’s a winding trail through gorgeous Boreal forest that has some great views of the Athabasca River. The trail system is part of the River Meadows RV Park but is open to the public. The owners ask that you call or text 780-689-1565 to let them know you are on the property.

Before you enter the RV park, you will see a parking area across from a construction site. The entrance to the trails is just down from there. If you plan on hiking the whole loop, please be aware that two sections cross water, so use caution. 

 

Food and Accommodations in Athabasca

Athabasca has some fantastic restaurants that will serve up a delicious meal to fuel up your walk or warm you up when you are done. If you want to spend a weekend or more, you could choose from chain hotels, Mom & Pop motels and short-term rentals.

Check out our Food listings:

Check out our Accommodations:

 

Share Your Walks

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Golf & Stay in the Athabasca Region

Are you looking to combine a getaway with a great round of golf (or two)? Look no further than the Athabasca Region!

We have some amazing choices that pair scenic and sometimes challenging courses set in the Boreal, with camping, vacation rentals or in-town accommodations. Check it out!

Main photo courtesy of Athabasca Golf & Country Club

 



Athabasca Golf & Country Club

The Athabasca Golf & Country Club is located just north of the Town of Athabasca. It is nestled in the Boreal forest along the banks of the Athabasca River. It is considered one of the premiere courses in Northern Alberta and challenges the most experienced players.

scene of trees and golf fairway with green in the distance

Athabasca Golf and Country Club was originally a nine hole layout designed in 1963. The course was expanded to a full eighteen holes in 1995 by Sid Puddicombe. Now with a recent $1.8 million renovation (also by Puddicombe) it boasts the 4th most difficult challenges in all of Canada. This beautiful course has much to offer even the most experienced golfer. During your round you may encounter a variety of wildlife including fox, moose, deer or even the occasional bear. Come test your skill and enjoy the natural beauty of Northern Alberta. – AGCC website.

The AGCC is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year! To celebrate they are hosting a 60th Anniversary Championship Tournament on September 10, 2023. If you haven’t experienced the area in the fall, this would be a fantastic way to soak in the usually warm and dry weather and the fall colours.

They also host multiple themed tournaments and special events, including the upcoming Road to Hope fundraiser on September 7, 2023.

The clubhouse is home to their Pro Shop and the Fox Den Restaurant. The pro shop offers all the clothing and equipment you will need for a successful round. Please note that the club does have a dress code of preferred golf attire and footwear.

The Fox Den serves up a mean burger (veggie choice available, too), fish and chips, salads and delicious craft beers. They boast a gorgeous patio to enjoy your meal and the view after your round.

If you are looking for camping accommodations, the Blueberry Hill RV park is just across from the clubhouse. They also manage the Lions Campground, which serves as their overflow. About 10 minutes away is the scenic River Meadows RV Park, situated right on the river.  If you want to rough it a bit, check out the Riverside Recreation Area about 10 minutes away.

If you are looking for a hotel/motel or AirBnB, Athabasca has many choices. Check out our “Stay” section for details.

The AGCC has partnered with the Tawatinaw Valley Retreat Bed & Breakfast for a Stay and Play Package! The Tawatinaw Valley Retreat is about 40 minutes from Athabasca and is set in the gorgeous Tawatinaw River valley. After you are finished golfing, take in the view of the lake at the end of the dock or go on a stroll. It’s a peaceful place away from everything! Check out their website for details on the package.

 

Contact Information

Website: https://athabascagolf.ca/
Phone:  780-675-4599
Email: info@athagolf.com
Photo courtesy of Athabasca Golf & Country Cub

 

Rocky Lane Fairways & Recreation

Rocky Lane Fairways & Recreation offers fantastic, family-friendly recreation for all skill levels. And if you aren’t a golfer, they have something for you, too!

golf course scene with a pond in foreground

Located about 10 minutes south of the Town of Athabasca, just off Hwy 2, Rocky Lane has a 9-hole par 3 course, disc golf, soccer golf, fling golf and a golf simulator. It is a gorgeous course with water features and lots of lush landscaping. The really cool thing is that the course has been designed so that your crew can golf, throw discs or fling balls together, all at the same time!

Rocky Lane has a 10-stall campground as well, so you can camp & play without having to leave the site. Each stall has a picnic table and fire pit. You can purchase firewood for your evening s’mores, too.

If you’re looking for a space for an event like a wedding or family gathering, Rocky Lane can accommodate you. They have tables and chairs, a sound system, event tents and more.

 

Contact Information

Website: https://rockylanefairways.wixsite.com/recreation
Phone: 780-327-9671
Email: rockylanefairways@gmail.com
Photo courtesy of Rocky Lane Fairways & Recreation

 

Skeleton Lake Golf & Country Club

view of golf fairway with some sparse trees at the end

Skeleton Lake Golf and Country Club is located in the Summer Village of Bondiss, about 8 km east of the Village of Boyle, with access off Hwy 663. This is a scenic 9-hole course that is as fun as it is challenging.

Their clubhouse has a licensed restaurant and lounge and their pro shop features great golf merchandise along with cart and club rentals.

If you are wanting to stay overnight, Shoreline Camping and Fishing Resort is located just on the other side of the bay. There is a gorgeous lakefront  AirBnB cabin in Bondis as well.

 

Contact Information

Website: https://www.skeletonlakegolfandcountryclub.com/
Phone:  780-689-2455
Email:  slgolf@mcsnet.ca
Photo courtesy of  Skeleton Lake Golf and Country Club

 

 

Northern Ridge Golf & RV Resort

fall scene on golf course with trees on both sides of fairway

Also not too far from Boyle, about 12 km south, is Northern Ridge Golf & RV Resort.

This is another scenic 9-hole course set in the Boreal forest. They have a licensed clubhouse with a deck that overlooks Hole 5.

They have over 30 fully serviced campsites and a few that have power only.

Located close to a paintball course and Long Lake Provincial Park, which offers camping and lake access, this site makes for a getaway with lots to do!

 

Contact Information

Website: https://www.northernridgegolf.ca/index.html
Phone: 780-576-3939
Email:  information@northernridgegolf.ca
Photo courtesy of Northern Ridge Golf and RV Resort

 

Riverbank Golf & RV Park

Last but not least, at the far northern end of the region, you’ll find Riverbank Golf & RV Park

scene of a golf course hole overlooking a pond

This hidden gem is nestled along the Wandering River about 1 hour north of Athabasca and 2 hours south of Fort McMurray. This 9-hole course is a Par 36 regulation course that will challenge you while you soak up the Boreal forest setting.

They host a number of tournaments over the season, with the next public one set for August 26th

Riverbank has a licensed restaurant with a full-service menu that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner selections.

They also have a 50-unit RV park:

Riverbank RV Park has 50 fully serviced RV sites that are 50 feet wide by 60 to 100 feet long. Unlike many RV Parks in the area, which are built in the middle of an open field, our sites either back onto the river or have beautiful views over the river and golf course. Come and have a look for yourself to compare to the other parks! Power, fresh water and no hassle sewer make the difference in a scenic river valley setting. – Riverbank website.

Contact Information

Website: https://www.riverbankgolfandrv.com/home.html
Phone: 780-771-2582
Email:  riverbankgolfandrv@gmail.com
Photo courtesy of Riverbank Golf and RV Park

 

Whether you are looking for a day trip round or a week of golf and sun, the Athabasca Region has multiple choices for a great golf & stay getaway. Be sure to try them all!