Dive into summer days in Newell by the Water


A ZenSeekers' road trip isn't complete unless the destinations include outdoor adventures, and culinary, learning and cultural experiences. During summer 2018, create your #BucketlistAB itinerary in Southern Alberta and come and stay a night and see a sight.

Written and photographed by Chris Istace

A lake in southeastern Alberta is a pretty rare thing, especially one this size where you can boat, water-ski, kayak - and swim. The number of water activities is as long as an Alberta summer day. 

That's why I marvelled as I drove up to Crawling Valley Reservoir, a place I hadn't been in years and only had faint memories of a small lake. Making the last turn to the park cresting a small rolling hill the lush green park appeared. 

Stay a night & see a sight, here is help to live out your next #BucketlistAB adventure.

Watch A #BucketlistAB look at Newell Alberta on YouTube.

Located in the heart of southeastern Alberta among rolling hills and vast grasslands of the Great Plains region lies a hidden oasis. The Newell region is between Calgary and Medicine Hat with Brooks as its urban centre. It’s an area that has redefined its topography with a long history of water management. Over time, Newell has become the escape of sunny hot summers in southern Alberta for water enthusiasts. The many man-made lakes have grown into the go-to destinations for families, boaters, campers, fisherman, paddle boarders and bird watchers.

Photo: Chris Istace

It's not every day you see a lighthouse in Alberta. That's part of the marine charm of Newell by The Lake. 

Our first stop was Crawling Valley Reservoir. This man-made lake located just east of the small town of Bassano is know for its camping and fishing. We parked and walked over to the beach area to take in the beautiful area.

As I scanned the beach, I could picture myself kayaking in peace. The graceful Canadian geese glided across the water as kayakers on the water did their best to match the goose’s grace. In the distance were two fishermen beside as small lighthouse replicated to look like the historic ones along the west coast. It didn’t take long before I saw they were abuzz with excitement catching a large pike not long after casting their line into the water. I’m pretty sure they had their hopes set on a prized walleye because reservoir has been stocked with hundreds of thousand of fish.

Photo: Chris Istace

Soft sand beaches are the perfect place for a picnic at Rolling Hills Campground.

There was a steady stream of boaters coming and going during our visit from fisherman to water skiers. Along the beach, families enjoyed the large sandy shoreline and the picnic area. It’s a popular spot for campers; the park was full of trailers and RVs.

Next stop: Rolling Hills Campground after we’d passed wide-open prairies of sage brush amid grasslands as far as the eye could see. Dense treetops poked above the hills.

We met up with Shawn and Lindsey Lachapelle who would show us why the reservoir is the perfect stand-up paddleboard getaway. The wind protected crescent beach and glassy water made the perfect spot to enjoy the shoreline.

Rent a paddle board to enjoy the big lake under a big, blue Alberta sky. 

Shawn and Lindsey made short work of getting into the water with their paddleboards and away they glided into deeper water one effortless paddle stroke after another. Spending a lot time around this reservoir in my youth, I was impressed with the first-class park that had been created.

“On my stand-up paddleboard (it’s) so quiet and smooth on the water, often I watch fish swim along right under me,” Lindsay said. “In the early morning and late evening when the water is calmest is my favorite time, often I just paddle out and take it all in.”

Heading back north towards Brooks our Newell by the Water experience led us to Kinbrook Island Provincial Park. The park is found on the shores of Lake Newell, which is the largest manmade lake in the province of Alberta. I have fond memories spending countless hours here as a teenager soaking if the long days of summer. Boats zipped by on the water and children were doing their best to build the biggest castles on the beach.

Photo: Chris Istace

Take your pick of floating fun.You'll see just about every kind of water sport here, from paddle boarding to motor boating

Peter Heal and his kids came into our view as their water fleet of paddleboards and kayaks eventually arrived onto the sandy beach. “There is no place like this in Southern Alberta”, Peter said. “Nothing is better than hearing my kids splash in the lake on a hot summer evening.”

Peter loves the park so much that he now calls the lake home at the far north end at the Lake Newell resort. Our next stop was going to be up this way to catch a wake boat ride, but before leaving, Peter was sure he would catch a fish on his kayak paddle home. Lake Newell is also stocked with lots of walleye.

Photo: Chris Istace

Water-skiing, now that's something you don't see every summer day in Alberta. But it's a big reason why so many people head to  Lake Newell.

Lake Newell is huge drawing boaters and all kinds of watersport enthusiasts. Kids on the water tested their skills as they carved across the wake from the boat.

The late evening sun glistened on the water and off the boats as our night slowly came to a close. Slowly motoring back to the dock the night sky burst into deep reds and gold as the sun dropped behind the horizon.

As for Peter’s fishing promise. At the end of the night, I got a text message. Yep, he’d caught that walleye.

If You Go

Check into Visit Newell to start planning your tour and other activities in the area.

Learn more about BucketlistAB here.

Grab an awesome itinerary and start your Southern Alberta adventure.

Travel Alberta also has lots of great information about things to do and places to see in Newell.

Chris Istace is a ZenSeekers' correspondent, he can be found at The Mindful Explorer and on Instagram and Twitter.

Like Our Facebook Page