Winter in Pembina River Provincial Park is one of peaceful solitude starkly contrasting the summer season where it is a popular location for camping and river tubing. The park is located about one hour west of Edmonton Alberta and is 2km north of the Hamlet of Entwistle off of highway 16A making it easily accessible by car. The park is nestled at the base of the Pembina River gorge surrounded by 62 metre high sandstone cliffs. The trail system winds through the day use area and the campground along the river valley and works its way up through the forest to the hamlet of Entwistle above.
The trails are not maintained over the winter months and only see light traffic. In fact, we only saw three other vehicles of which we only saw one other person. Since the snow can be fairly deep, snowshoes are a must. Not realizing this initially we hit the trails through the campground in just our boots. Needless to say, we didn't last long before circling back to our vehicle to get our snowshoes. The hike was more enjoyable after that. This time we decided to head south along the river and then make our way up the hill onto the forest trails. Other than the one CN Rail Bridge viewpoint, the trails were tree covered providing only glimpses of views across the valley. The trail system is considered easy, other than a steep hill for 0.3km (max grade 23.8%) that takes you to the top of the valley. We snowshoed for about an hour moving time and covered a little over 6km. Altogether we spent two hours in the park.
Ice safety: Please note that Alberta Parks does not monitor the river ice safety conditions. Learn how to assess ice conditions before venturing onto the river.
Although we didn't see any wildlife, we did see quite a bit of evidence from a variety of animals along the trail. Moose and deer tracks, droppings and resting spots were prevalent. Pembina River Provincial Park is known for an abndance of wildlife including coyote, mule deers, white-tailed deers, moose, red squirrels, snowshow hares, muskrat, badgers, beavers, mink and the odd black bear.
Summer activities inlude RV, tent and group camping, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, geo caching, swiming and tubing on the river. The campground has 134 sites and has firepits, playgrounds, interpretive viewpoints, showers, cook shacks, power water, along with both pit and flush toilets and a sani-dump. As this is a popular destination near Edmonton be sure to reserve early. In 2023, reservations open on April 3. The day use area has a picnic shelter, tables, playground, beach area and an historic site. As this is primarily a summer destination most activities and amenities are closed during the winter or buried under the snow. Apparently we went right past the historic point without even seeing it.