Exploring Alberta’s Provincial Parks: William A. Switzer

Qyd, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

About William A. Switzer

William A. Switzer Provincial Park is located between Grande Cache, Alberta and Hinton, Alberta along the Bighorn Highway (Highway 40). The park contains various campgrounds on the shores of Gregg Lake, Cache Lake, Blue Lake, and Jarvis Lake.

William A. Switzer Provincial Park is directly across Highway 40 from the Athabasca Ranch PLUZ and also close to other Crown Land locations such as the Coal Branch PLUZ and Brule Lake PLUZ.

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Summer at William A. Switzer

In the summertime, visitors at William A. Switzer Provincial Park have a range of water, and non water related activities. Hiking and biking on the park’s many trails are a popular activity in the summertime.

The 5 lakes in the park are popular for fishers since there are northern pike, lake whitefish, and stocked trout. There are varying rules across each of the lakes:

  1. Blue Lake: Gas powered boats are banned from Blue Lake. For this reason, there is no boat launch onto the lake either. Electric motors, canoes, and kayaks are allowed however.
  2. Cache Lake: Cache Lake has the same rules as Blue Lake in that gas boats are banned from the lake and users can use kayaks, canoes, and electric motors. There also isn’t a boat launch available on Cache Lake.
  3. Graveyard Lake: Graveyard Lake also has the same rules as both of the above lakes. Canoes, Kayaks, and electric motors only with no boat launch available.
  4. Gregg Lake: Gregg Lake does allow gas motors provided that they stick to a 12km/hr speed limit. There is a boat launch onto Gregg Lake.
  5. Jarvis Lake: Jarvis Lake also allows gas motors, but there is no 12km/hr speed limit. There is a boat launch on Jarvis Lake

For canoe/kayak users, there is an interpretive canoe route that is approximately 4km in length. This route begins where Highway 40 crosses Jarvis Creek near the visitor center at Kelley’s Bathtub Day Use Area. It then heads through both Blue Lake and Cache Lake before ending at Graveyard Lake at the Halfway Campground.

Swimming is also a popular activity in the park with three beaches in the day use areas.

Kmw2700, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Winter at William A. Switzer

William A. Switzer also has a wide array of winter activities in the park. The most popular of these activities is cross country skiing since the park is home to the Hinton Nordic Center. There are 13km of groomed ski trails at the park as well as an additional 35km of ungroomed trails in the park. There is sledding and snowshoeing opportunities in the park as well.

On any of the lakes, ice fishing is a popular activity and the park even hosts an ice fishing derby in February as part of Hinton’s annual Winter Magic Festival. Skating is also common on the lakes – but do remember to exercise caution on ice!

For those brave enough to camp in Canadian winters: Gregg Lake Campground, and Jarvis Lake Campground both offer winter camping.

Camping at William A. Switzer

There are 5 campgrounds throughout William A. Switzer Provincial Park including some year-round options.

CampgroundAmenitiesType of SiteAmount AvailableCost/Night
Cache Lake Campground
(May 17 – September 5)
Cook shelter, outhouses, playground, water (pump)Unserviced14$30.00
Halfway Campground
(May 18 – September 6)
Outhouses, firepitsUnserviced4$30.00
Jarvis Lake Campground
(Year Round)
Firepits, outhouses, hand launch, pay phone, pier, playground, water (pump), power hookupsPower (15/30 amp)25$38.00
Gregg Lake Campground
(Year Round)
Amphitheatre, Boat Launch, Cook Shelter, Fish Cleaning Stations, Flush Toilets, Hand Launch, Pay Phone, Outhouses, Playground, Power Hookups, Sewage Dump, Showers, Water (pump), Firewood (sold)Power (15/30 amp)83$42.00
Power/Water (15/30 amp)11$50.00
Graveyard Lake Campground
(Year Round)
Firepits, outhouses, hand launch, water (pump)Unserviced7$30.00
Group Camping
Beaver Ranch Group Use
(May 18 – September 5)
Cook shelter, firepits, outhousesUnserviced Group Camp18 units$220.00/5 units + $30/ extra unit

$70.00 Day Use
Pine Bay Group Use
(May 18 – September 5)
Unserviced Group Camp18 units$230.00/5 units + $30/ extra unit

$70.00 Day Use
This data is accurate as of 2023

Day Use at William A. Switzer

William A. Switzer Provincial Park contains 3 designated day use areas.

  1. Gregg Lake Day Use – Gregg Lake Day Use Area is found on the shores of Gregg Lake. It has well developed facilities and is commonly used for access to the lake.
    • Open: Year Round
    • Amenities: Boat Launch, Firepits, Firewood (sold), Hand Launch, Pier, Outhouses, Playground, Water (Pump), Picnic shelter.
    • Activities: Canoeing, Kayaking, Fishing, Hiking (front country), mountain biking, picnics, swimming, ice fishing.
  2. Jarvis Lake Day Use – This day use area is similar to the Gregg Lake Day Use except it provides access to Jarvis Lake and it is seasonal.
    • Open: May 19 – October 13
    • Amenities: Boat Launch, Firepits, Pier, Outhouses, Playground, Water (Pump).
    • Activities: Canoeing, Kayaking, Fishing, Hiking (front country), picnics, swimming, ice fishing.
  3. Kelleys Bathtub Day Use – This is the main day use area in the park and contains many developed facilities for visitors.
    • Open: Year Round
    • Amenities: Cook shelter, firepits, firewood (sold), gift shop, pay phone, outhouses, visitor center, water (pump), picnic shelter.
    • Activities: Hiking (front country & interpretive), mountain biking, picnics, swimming, cross country skiing.
    • Other Information: Wheelchair Friendly, Liquor Permitted

There are also 2 special day use areas in the park.

  1. Hinton Nordic Center – The Hinton Nordic Center contains over 35km of groomed cross country ski trails through forested, hilly terrain. This facility also includes a biathlon range, telemark hill, warm up shelters, and a lodge.
  2. Blue Lake Center

Distances to Alberta Cities

Distance to Calgary: 497km

Distance to Edmonton: 317km

Distance to Red Deer: 422km

Distance to Lethbridge: 709km

Distance to Grande Prairie: 304km

Coordinates: 53°29’29.5″N 117°49’33.8″W

Alberta Parks Website