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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: 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

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

Share your photos from your Athabasca Region outdoor adventures by using the #VisitTheAthabascaRegion hashtag.

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