Late Summer Adventures SW of Red Deer
By: Jim Alseth
On holidays in August we found ourselves southwest of Red Deer doing a loop through the Innisfail, Bowden, Caroline, Sundre area. Since the long weekend was sandwiched in the middle of our two weeks, the first week didn`t provide an abundance of available camping spots.
We began by camping close to Red Deer for the wedding of our niece. After, we lingered for two days at one of our favorites, Lakeview Provincial Campground on Gull Lake.
Tuesday night was a stop-over at Innisfail Municipal Campground. You don`t plan a holiday around this campground. It`s run down and right beside the highway. To make our stay even more memorable, we were taking a walk around the small lake nearby and our dog stuck her nose into a hornet`s nest. I was lagging behind picking raspberries, but my daughter Kari ran to her rescue, brushed them all off and got stung herself. After a little TLC everyone was fine though.
We traveled west the next day and found Westward Ho Campground, a small camping/RV “town” situated on the Little Red Deer River. We stayed a couple of days (Wednesday and Thursday night) at this picturesque resort located just east of Sundre. Our goal was to settle somewhere in the area for the Sundre Rodeo on the weekend.
Since we had no reservations (our usual method--it`s the adventure of not knowing where we`ll end up) we headed further west from Westward Ho to Sundre. No sites were available here, not surprisingly, so we turned north for Caroline.
Our unfruitful search for any campsite (we weren`t fussy at this point) brought us to the Caroline Golf Course and RV Park just minutes north of the town of Caroline. All the sites here were booked, but the manager was good enough to create an "overflow" spot on a grassy stretch beside their office/mobile home. From this spot we even had power, so we settled in for the weekend.
One of the things we love about small towns is the local hardware store. It`s a popular family activity of ours, perusing these distinct little outposts whose charm just can`t be matched by big city megastores. The isles barely have room for two people to pass and the shelves are packed to the ceiling with stock. The warmth of the locals makes them even more inviting. I even found deals on a new fiberglass long handle axe and a 12V portable air compressor at the store in Caroline.
After the long weekend we were looking forward to a regular campsite to call home for the week. Red Lodge Provincial Park on Hwy 587 east towards Bowden had some good reviews, so we decided to try it. The Little Red Deer River also happens to border this nicely forested, rustic campground.
After finding a suitable spot this park quickly became one of our favorites. The amenities are sufficient, most sites are private and nicely wooded with evergreens, and then there`s the river in the back. A pleasant Alberta summer, with not too much rain, allowed for calm waters--perfect for tubing. So Darlene, our two teenaged daughters Kayla and Kari, and I spent two sunny afternoons relaxing, Huck Finn style, floating down this clear mountain river.
When I use the word "relax" I really mean it. Having never tubed before I had no idea what effect a comfortable tube, a pristine watercourse, and warm sunshine can have. It was a splendid way to end our summer holiday and we drove home knowing we`d found another campground we`ll be visiting again.