Camping in Castle Provincial Park, Alberta

by - Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Castle Provincial Park offers great camping and wild mountain adventures on paths less travelled.

The water is calm as we paddle across Beaver Mines Lake. Campers wave to us from shore and fishers quietly tend their lines. It's a peaceful evening and we still can't believe we got a first come, first served campsite on this gorgeous August weekend.

Stacey and Chad from Lethbridge tell us it's always like this here. Chad grew up in Blairmore, less than an hour away, and has spent a lot of time in the Castle. He recommends a pickerel rig to catch trout in the weed beds offshore and shows us how to set it up. It seems to work well for them! My kids, on the other hand, aren't patient enough to sit still, so we explore the campground before settling in for the night.

The next day, we hike Table Mountain (2232 metres elevation). Although it's a well known peak, we see only two people on the trail all day! The 29 degree (84 F) heat may have something to do with that. Later, we learn that Castle Falls is the place to be on a hot day - for cliff jumping and wading.

For this trip, however, we enjoy the peace and quiet and lack of crowds (the campground is only half full). Next year, we will definitely be spending more time in this mountain park only three hours from Calgary!

Beaver Mines Lake, Castle Provincial Park
Beaver Mines Lake, Castle Provincial Park

Camping in the Castle

Since becoming a provincial park in early 2017, Castle has received new infrastructure and upgrades. Some of the changes include: reservable campsites (formerly all first come, first served), a beautiful warming hut at Syncline Day Use, cabins at Beaver Mines Lake, larger tent pads, and more signage/washrooms. Random camping is no longer permitted in the park, but you can camp for free in designated camping areas; more info below.

Castle Provincial Park has four rustic campgrounds, two group camping areas at Syncline (reservations required), comfort camping (reservations required), and nine free-of-charge designated camping areas (obtain a free permit from the self-registration kiosk).

Beaver Mines Lake, Castle Provincial Park
View of Beaver Mines Lake from Table Mountain, Castle Provincial Park


Campgrounds

Castle Provincial Park campgrounds have basic amenities - pit toilets and firepits - so bring your own drinking water, and firewood if camping outside of peak season. Most campsites are first come first served, but as of this year, some sites are reservable at Beaver Mines Lake, Castle River Bridge and Castle Falls Campgrounds.

Beaver Mines Lake is the largest campground in the area with 96 unserviced sites. Enjoy fishing (Beaver Mines Lake is stocked with rainbow trout), paddling, and hiking at this pretty lake. The boat launch and trailhead for Table Mountain are near the entrance to the campground.

Loops A-C are first come, first served with good tree cover. Loop A is furthest from the lake, Loop B has some some walk-in tent sites and car camping sites, and Loop C has a few lakeside spots.  Loop D, the "View Loop" is on a little hill above the lake and has more open sites that are reservable.

Beaver Mines Lake, Castle Provincial Park
Beaver Mines Lake, Castle Provincial Park
Castle River Bridge,1 km off Hwy 774, is adjacent to sandstone bluffs along the Castle River. It is open year round unless there has been very heavy snowfall (check park advisories before you head down in the off season). Try for trout, kayak the rapids, or hike to Carbondale Hill Fire Lookout. 15 out of 30 sites are reservable.

Castle River near Castle River Bridge Campground
Image Credit: Alberta Parks
Castle Falls, a popular cliff diving spot, is 6 km down Castle Falls Road. Campsites are in mixed forest with partial shade or full sun. 19 out of 45 sites are reservable.

Castle Falls, Castle Provincial Park
Castle Falls, Castle Provincial Park
Image Credit: Alberta Parks
Lynx Creek is a small campground 16 km from Hwy 774 with 18 spacious first come first served sites. The River Loop has a few campsites right next to the Carbondale River.

Lynx Creek Campground, Castle Provincial Park
Lynx Creek Campground, Castle Provincial Park
Image Credit: Alberta Parks

Group Camping Areas

There are two group camping areas in Castle Provincial Park: Syncline A (max capacity: 15 units) and Syncline B (max capacity: 20 units). Amenities include picnic shelter, pit toilets, firepits, and horse corral. Reservations required.

Comfort Camping

Comfort camping is coming to Beaver Mines Lake! Check out Alberta Parks - Castle Provincial Park - Comfort Camping for more information on the cabins you can book in summer 2018. Reservations required.

Random Camping aka Wilderness Camping 

Random camping is not permitted in Castle Provincial Park, but you can camp for free (until further notice) in Designated Camping Areas 1-9. See the Castle Provincial Park Summer Map Guide for more information. Note that you must complete a permit at the self-registration kiosk and pack out all trash. There are no firepits, washrooms, or trash bins at the designated camping areas.

Random / wilderness camping is permitted in the adjacent Castle Wildlands Provincial Park provided you camp at least 1 km from roads or backcountry facilities. It is recommended you camp more than 30 metres away from water sources.

Haig Lake, Castle Provincial Park
It's a short hike to beautiful Haig Lake, Castle Provincial Park.

Recreational Activities in Castle Provincial Park

See my story Hiking in Castle Provincial Park (coming soon!) for ideas on where to hike in the park.

If you're in Castle Provincial Park in late August, don't miss the Huckleberry Festival at Castle Mountain. Fun for all ages!

For winter fun including snowshoeing, skiing, ice fishing, and cross country skiing, please read Winter Fun in Castle Provincial Park.

Beaver Mines Lake in winter
Snowshoeing on Beaver Mines Lake, Castle Provincial Park

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