Enjoy the beach, boating, and birding at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park on the shore of Lake Newell.
The kids are bobbing up and down in the water as I bask in the sun and squish my toes in the sand. We’ve been lounging on the beach for hours, only leaving briefly to chase the ice cream truck. It’s easy to lose track of time at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park where the water is warm and the sand is soft. Although the lake is little more than two hours from Calgary, and the campground is full, the beach doesn’t feel too crowded. People are spread out along the sand, many are out in boats, and during the cooler hours, the Marsh Trail is popular spot.
While campsites here are neither private nor large, they are level, mostly shaded, and close to the lake, so we enjoy coming here for a few days each summer. Amenities like showers, laundromat, concession, playgrounds, and picnic shelters make it easy to stay for a long time if you seek a beach destination close to home (note that in 2020, some services will be temporarily unavailable). We hope to eventually book a group camping area – there are three – so we can enjoy this awesome park with friends!
After dinner at our campsite, we return to the beach to watch the sunset. Sailboats make their way back to the marina and pelicans grace the skyline. A few fishermen cast from shore while a family cheers teammates on from the volleyball court. Evenings are (generally) quiet here once day use visitors leave, so you can relax and rejuvenate for another day by the water – or on it.
Here’s how to spend a fun weekend at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park near Brooks, Alberta.
Fun Things to Do at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park
- Swimming: Lake Newell, one of the warmest lakes in Alberta, has a lovely roped-off swimming area with clear water and a sandy bottom. There is no lifeguard on duty, so keep kids within arms’ reach! Check Alberta Parks Advisories for blue-green algae advisories in July and August.
- Sunbathing: The long sandy beach at Kinbrook Island is perfect for relaxing on. Bring a small sun shelter and lots of sunscreen!
- Playgrounds, volleyball, & horseshoes: There are two playgrounds, two volleyball courts, and one horseshoe court
- Walk the Marsh Trail, an 4.5 kilometre interpretive wetlands trail, and do some birding. We love birding with the (free) Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell University.
- Birding: Over 200 species of birds have been seen in the park. Common sightings include American white pelicans, great blue herons, ring-billed gull, California gulls, double-crested cormorants, ducks, coots, rails, and geese.
- Geocaching: There are three geocaches within the park. You will need the Geocaching app to find them.
- Fishing: northern pike and lake whitefish are commonly caught here. There are also a few species of trout in the lake. For fishing regulations, visit Alberta Fishing Regulations | Zone 2 Parkland Prairie.
- Sailing, paddling, and windsurfing are popular here. If you are canoeing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding, go early or late in the day when it is less windy (and to avoid the power boats).
- Power boating: Power vessels are subject to a 12 km/h speed limit in the posted swimming area.
- Motorized and non motorized boaters should note the following:
- seasonal closure of Pelican Island, at the southwest end of the lake. Access is prohibited from 15 April to 15 September each year.
- The EID Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program is in effect (since 2018). All boaters wishing to access EID reservoirs, including Lake Newell, must complete a watercraft information form and commitment form and receive an EID sticker at the EID office, Lake Newell Resort Marina, Rolling Hills Campground, or Crawling Valley Campground; sticker must be presented prior to launching. For more information, visit the EID Website.
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park Campground
Kinbrook Island has 199 campsites including 185 sites with power hookups. Sites are flat, and most have partial shade and minimal privacy, so they are well suited for trailers. Amenities include showers, flush toilets, tap water, sewage dump station, laundromat, concession, pay phone, and fish cleaning stand. If you are tent campers like us, you may wish to bring a mesh bug screen house that can also provide a bit of sun protection in the event your site doesn’t have a lot of shade (we like the MEC Hootenanny as its robust frame can withstand high winds).
Reservations are recommended at this popular lakeside campground. Reserve your site at Reserve Alberta Parks.
See the park and campground map here: Alberta Parks | Kinbrook Island Provincial Park Map & Tear Sheet.
Things to do in the area
Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where several dinosaur bones have been found, makes a great day trip. For more information, please see our story: Exploring Dinosaur Provincial Park. 45 minutes northeast of Kinbrook Island Provincial Park,
Rolling Hills Lake is a quieter spot for stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking. 10 minutes south of Kinbrook Island Provincial Park.
Duke of Sutherland Park, in the town of Brooks, has a spray park, playground, and workout equipment. 15 minutes from Kinbrook Island Provincial Park.
Brooks and District Museum is situated on seven acres of land next to Meadow Lake. This museum features indoor exhibits, 15 buildings in the historic village, farming and industrial equipment in Machinery Row, and a caboose. Learn about the 4th Duke of Sutherland and his connection to Brooks, and famous cowboy John Ware, while you explore the museum. Kids will enjoy the scavenger hunt, and kids of all ages will love the homemade ice cream. After, visit the Rose Garden and look for pelicans on the pond. For more information, visit https://www.brooksmuseum.ca/ 15 minutes from Kinbrook Island Provincial Park.
Brooks Aqueduct National and Provincial Historic Site, built in 1914 , was the largest concrete structure of its time spanning 3.2 kilometres with a height of 20 metres. The aqueduct diverted water from the Bassano Dam on the Bow River to irrigate 55,000 hectares of land east of Brooks. Check out the retired aqueduct on a self-guided tour. If it isn’t too hot, you can hang out at the playground and picnic area. 15 minutes from Kinbrook Island Provincial Park.
Brooks Corn Maze is open on weekends from mid August to October and offers U-pick raspberries, a magnetic fish pond, The Human Hamster Ball, Pasture Putt Golf, The Corny Sandbox, petting zoo, and more. Visit Brooks Corn Maze for hours and admission rates. 15 minutes from Kinbrook Island Provincial Park.
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park is located 2 hours and 15 minutes southeast of Calgary, or 15 minutes south of Brooks.
The Bassano Dam and Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park (open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm) are two interesting stops en route.
As an Alberta Parks Ambassador (volunteer role), I received free camping in the park, but all words and opinions are my own.