Area campgrounds are ready for summer as reservations are rolling in.
James Lee, chairman of the Black Diamond campground, said reservation numbers are good so far.
“We’re full this weekend,” Lee said.
The campground, managed by the local Lions Club, has 55 sites available by reservation. The remaining sites are occupied by seasonal campers.
Campers stay at the Black Diamond campground for the nature in the area, including hiking and fishing, without the crowds that are often seen in the mountain parks, he said.
The Sheep River flows past the site, while the amenities and small-town flavour of Black Diamond and Turner Valley are close at hand.
Sites at the campground are available by reservation only, and Lee suggests booking a week or two in advance, as spots can fill up quickly.
“Last year was a record year for the campground,” he said.
The campground is equipped with wifi, and other amenities include a recycling centre and an outdoor sink for washing dishes.
Just up the road from Black Diamond, the Turner Valley Municipal Campground is taking reservations this year, where it had been strictly first-come, first-served in the past.
Kim Ellingson, campground host, said the process has been going well. They will keep some sites open for first-come, first-served camping, she said.
The 18-site campground is close to Kananaskis, but also offers in-town amenities. Like in Black Diamond, attractions and services are within walking distance of the campsites.
Despite being in town, people are surprised how quiet the Turner Valley campground is, Ellingson said. A horse pasture flanks one side of the site, and horses will often walk up and check out the campers, and it's common to see deer walking through the area.
“You might be in town, but you still feel like you’re in nature,” Ellingson said.
The river is close by, as is the Friendship Trail. There is an outdoor pool, baseball diamond and library, along with restaurants. Books can be taken from the library by donation and the pool will be opening sometime in June, she said.
There are “lots of things to do with a young family,” Ellingson said, adding people who like being close to nature, but not in nature, enjoy the location.
Ellingson looks forward to meeting campers and sharing information about the area.
“I love meeting people and finding out where they’re from, and where they’re going,” she said. “I love sharing about our little town and what we have to offer.”
Weekends can fill up, but there is usually more space during the week, she said. Same-day reservations are allowed.
For an out-of-town experience, Archie and Janet Hogg Park offers rustic, family-friendly camping.
Peter Sutherland is entering his first season as manager at the campground located between High River and Longview.
The 62-site campground is not yet open, but Sutherland said they are aiming to open somewhere between May 15 and 18. The online reservation system is not up and running yet, but Sutherland said, “I would imagine (reservations) are going to pour in once we get it turned on.”
Located along the banks of the Highwood River, nature and privacy are what draw people to the campground, and the area is rich in plants and wildlife. Fishing and swimming are popular activities.
“This is a beautiful spot, with the mountain view and the river,” Sutherland said. “I think the river is going to be the big attraction, the river and the privacy.”
The sites are not serviced, and potable water is not available in the park. A day-use area in the park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.