Spray Valley Provincial Park
The creation of 35,800-hectare (88,460-acre) Spray Valley Provincial Park in 2001 provided the final link in continuous protection between bordering Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in the south and Willmore Wilderness Park beyond the northern reaches of Jasper National Park in the north. The park’s dominant feature is Spray Lake Reservoir, a 16-kilometer-long (10-mile-long) body of water that provides a variety of recreational opportunities.
The Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail is the only road through the park. This 60-kilometer (37-mile) unpaved (and often dusty) road links Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in the south to Canmore in the north. From the south, the road climbs up the Smith-Dorrien Creek watershed, passing Mud Lake and entering the Spray Valley Provincial Park just south of Mt. Engadine Lodge.
Around three kilometers (1.9 miles) farther north is Buller Pond (on the west side of the road), from where the distinctive “Matterhorn” peak of Mount Assiniboine can be seen on a clear day. The road then parallels the eastern shoreline of Spray Lake for over 20 kilometers (12.5 miles), passing three lakefront picnic areas. Beyond the north end of Spray Lake, the road passes Goat Pond and the Goat Creek trailhead, then descends steeply into the Bow Valley and Canmore.
Accommodations and Camping
Mount Engadine Lodge (403/678-4080, www.mountengadine.com, mid-June–mid-Oct. Jan. weekends, Feb.–March; from $190 s, $390–440 d including meals) is set on a ridge overlooking an open meadow and small creek at the turnoff to the Mount Shark staging area. It comprises luxurious rooms in the main lodge and two cabins set on a ridge overlooking an open meadow and small creek.
The main lodge has a dining room, a comfortable lounge area with two stone fireplaces, and a beautiful sundeck holding a hot tub. Breakfast is served buffet-style, lunch can be taken at the lodge or packed for a picnic, and dinner is served in multiple courses of hearty European specialties. Mount Engadine Lodge is 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Canmore, at the turnoff to the Mount Shark staging area.
The park’s only campground is Spray Lake West (June–Sept., $20), a rustic facility spread out along the western shoreline of Spray Lake. Many of the 50-odd sites are very private, but facilities are limited to picnic tables, fire pits, and pit toilets.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition