Point your motorhome towards northern Alberta and head for Grande Prairie. Five miles west of this fast-growing community is Saskatoon Island Provincial Park. At one time, prior to 1919, it really was an island. First Nations people used to paddle out to this bit of land and collect Saskatoon berries, hence the name. Then the water level in the plains dropped, creating Saskatoon Lake and Little Lake. It left a narrow strip of land in between. In 1932 this strip of land became a provincial park.
In 1948, Saskatoon Lake became a Federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary and today is one of the largest nesting spots of the Trumpeter Swan. These birds, the largest and heaviest water-birds in North America, were almost extinct by the early part of the 20th century. Thanks to places like Saskatoon Island Provincial Park, these snowy-white swans have made a remarkable recovery.
During the warm-weather breeding season, it’s easy to do a bit of swan watching. A wooden boardwalk leads out to the edge of the lake, some of which is a freshwater marsh. At the end of the boardwalk is a viewing platform. All you need is a pair of binoculars and/or a camera. You can find the swans by following the lake’s coastline, but this boardwalk gets you a lot closer to the birds. Trumpeter Swans tend to nest in the same area each year, so many of the birds are repeat visitors and tend to tolerate well-behaved people quite nicely.
Each year the City of Grande Prairie, which adopted the Trumpeter Swan as its official symbol, hosts its Swan Festival. Held the third weekend in April, the festivities start in the city with entertainment, nature presentations and a silent auction. The second day is an on-site party at the Provincial Park. Activities include swan sighting tours, crafts, face painting, food and more. Entry to this family-friendly park event is free.
The Saskatoon Island campground is open between May 1 and October 15. It offers powered 15 and 30 amp RV sites as well as dry camping spots. Some sites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long. Each campsite has its own firepit and firewood is available or sale. Potable water, showers, washrooms and a dump station are onsite. Some of the campsites, as well as the showers and washrooms, are suitable for the physically challenged.
After your visit to your Alberta RV Dealer, perhaps you’ll consider an RV vacation to one of Alberta’s wilderness treasures. Spend time at the lake's beach, play some baseball or do some hiking. At night sit around the campfire and watch the Aurora Borealis paint its colours across the northern skies.