My sister put Carson Pegasus Provincial Park on my camping radar a few years back and this summer we finally made it out for a weekend with friends. It isn’t too far out of Edmonton, about 2 hours drive on double lane highways passing through many small towns. The park itself is just outside of the town of Whitecourt and is a hidden gem in the (general) Edmonton area. Along with having multiple playgrounds, hiking trails and near 200 campsites, the campground also has a beautiful lake with a seawall surrounding the northside. We stayed in loop C and were very happy with the location- an easy walk to the beach and seawall, and the sites all seemed very private. The lake is swimmable and there is a smaller sized beach right next to the waterfront playground. Even though the beach isn’t huge, my kids are just happy for some sand and water so there were no complaints. The seawall is a beautiful walk along the waters edge and seemed to be a favourite of fisherman young and old.
The campground also has boat rentals- canoes, paddleboats, rowboats and electric motor boats. We rented a paddleboat for 30 minutes (you’ll get a little wet) and it turns out my kids love paddle boating! It was only $10 for the rental, it was so easy to do and was inexpensive activity for our afternoon. There are lifejackets included with rentals as well, along with a public free rental station for anyone wanting a lifejacket for their children near the water. Tim tried his hand at fishing on seawall early in the early morning but came up empty handed. We did see others catching fish and groups having great success with fishing off their boats in the middle of lake.
In the town of Whitecourt there is another hidden gem, The Riverslides at Rotary Park. They are located at the end of 51st street, just right off highway 43 (the main one which takes you to Carson Pegasus) and are a free local attraction. We spent all day Saturday enjoying the slides again and again. My kids were both able to tube down the either river alone ( there is 2 hillside slides lined with plastic and fresh water) and even the adults enjoyed going down with the kids. We loved that even on a hot Saturday in July it wasn’t overly busy and there was ample space for a picnic and no line ups to get down the slides. Also there is a beach, an awesome spray park right next to the slides and one of the biggest, coolest playgrounds I’ve ever been too. Total Kid Heaven. We took a small breaks for slurpees and snacks, but otherwise these kids tired themselves out so well they were asleep before we got out of town and napped the quick 15 minute drive to our site before refusing to wake up again. Ha. Violet has been asking to go back ever since. If you have a day to spare before summer is over, I would recommend making the trip out there for free family fun. If you can spare a whole weekend, check out Carson Pegasus and enjoy the campground amenities and all the actives in town of Whitecourt.
Look Forward to-
-The Riversides and Rotary Park as part of your camping trip.
-Spending time at the beach and enjoying (a tad expensive but worthwhile) ice cream from the large camp store. With so many lakes around Edmonton having water quality issues, it was so nice to be able to swim at the lake with no problems.
-Walking trails along the lake with great birdwatching. We also saw some deer in the park.
-Catching small shrimp (crayfish?) right off the pier. The girls used some bait and their nets to catch and release the little guys.
-Making marshmallow waffle cones as an alternate to s’mores. Stuff your cone full of any treats you like- marshmallow, strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips….. wrap in tinfoil and pop on the fire grate to melt. It was a great treat and a little less messy then traditional s’mores.
But Be Prepared for-
-The campground being a bit noisy. We found that although most trailers stuck to the 8am-11pm quiet time, that generators were running more the usual and music was louder then we have experienced at other campgrounds. We didn’t see a park ranger go through our loop at all while we were there. There were posted numbers to call and complain about noise, but we never made the effort to get the number, so that was our own fault. However, we heard from another family who went a different weekend that they also found the campground louder the usual. So keep that in mind if you are tenting and perhaps keep the complaints phone number on you so can call late at night if the noise is too much. If you want to ensure that there are no generators around you, try booking a walk-up tenting site right on the edge of the lake peninsula. Those site were beautiful and there is no risk of large generators. The campground has very few power sites, so it adds to the noise when there are a lot of generators running. Disappointing there wasn’t a lot of enforcement in the park, but we did make an complaint after our visit and hopefully it will something that gets looked into.
-The beach being busy because of it’s smaller size. We also found the seawall walk quite busy, but it was still very enjoyable.
-There is wood for sale at the campground store or at the check in kiosk. The wood for sale at the small store is nearly double the price as through the kiosk
Our Insider Tips
-Check out the Town of Whitecourt website to ensure the slides are running and the operational times before you head out. They also do close down for 2 hours on Wednesdays for cleaning.
-Do a costco stop on your way out of the city- we bought a fruit tray, veggie tray, bag of popcorn, kabobs, burgers and buns, sandwich meats and mini cereals for our trip. Everything was super easy to make over a fire, and we had more time for playing. It’s one of the ways to make camping with kids as easy as possible- no food prep onsite and healthy snacks for the kiddos.