Aspen Beach Provincial Park
Driving Distance from Calgary: Just under 2 hours [google map directions] Number of Sites: 300
Facilities: Toilets, Showers, Boat launch, Fishing, Playgrounds, Swimming, Beach
Nearest Town: bentley
Cell Reception: Not really
“Oh, I love that you call it the ocean,” said a mom sitting on the beach next to me playing with her 3 kids in the sand.It’s an old habit that will die hard. I grew up in Vancouver and when faced with a body of water that stretches to the horizon and beyond, I will call it the ocean. Gull Lake is big, and beautiful, and if I squinted from my perch on the grassy esplanade across from the beach, I could imagine I was at Kits Beach in Vancouver. The best beaches in Calgary are not near Calgary (unless you live in a Lake Community). If you want beach time, you’ve got to go for a drive, and this is one of the best.
Aspen Beach is long and the sand is soft. The shore at Gull Lake is very shallow for at least 100 metres. You can sit on the grass across from the beach and watch the kids in the sand and water for hours. I can’t rave enough about the beach and the lake. The boys loved it.
There’s a cash-only concession by the beach that serves hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, and ice cream. Horseshoe pits are nearby as well, but bring your own shoes.
The campsites are well wooded. You have a great sense of privacy with bushes and aspens surrounding each site. Ours was covered in gravel, not the best for a tenting spot.
On this trip I discovered there are two types of campers in Alberta: mountain people and prairie people. The mountain campers go for the nature and are pretty quiet and relaxed in the campgrounds. After a day of hiking, there’s not much energy to party. The prairie campers, however, are party people. They sit around in circles on the beach, and in their campsites breaking out the beers all afternoon.
After returning to the campsite after the beach, I was getting ready to make dinner when I heard nothing but howls from a double campsite a few over. There was at least a dozen people laughing and joking and having a great time. Good for them, bad for me. With two kids and a bumpy campsite in the tent, I wasn’t looking forward to staying up to 11 or beyond.
I convinced the boys that we could pack up the tent and be home in time to sleep in the backyard. If you’ve got a hard body trailer that can insulate the neighbour noise, or if you like to party, this is the campground for you.
Me? I loved the beach. We’ll be back for daytrips next summer with the boys to dig and play and chill on a hot summer day.