Formed in 1999 to protect its unique and rare landscapes and plant species Sundance Provincial Park is made up of two distinct areas, Sundance Valley and Emerson Lakes. Sundance Valley is closer to the Town of Edson whereas Emerson Lakes are closer to the Town of Hinton.
Sundance Valley is the larger of the two areas and protects diverse landscapes, wildlife and rare plant species. There is a network of hiking trails and walk-in campsites. The 'Hoodoos of the North' and Marl Fen are located on opposite ends of Sundance Valley.
The second area of the park is Emerson Lakes. This area is made up of a chain of five lakes called the Emerson Lakes. It is popular destination for front country camping, fishing and boating. There is a series of hiking trails here as well as a day use area along the Athabasca River.
Sundance Provincial Park is popular for activities such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, camping and cross country skiing.
The Sundance Valley portion of the park extends from Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) in the south to Emerson Creek Road in the North. This section of the park preserves unique geological features like the Sundance Hoodoos, old growth forests and rare plant species in the Marl Bog. There are a number of hiking trails with the Wild Sculpture Trail System being the most popular as well as a four backcountry, hike-in campsites.
The Wild Scupture Trail system is made up of three trails, the Skyline, Hoodoo and Lake Trails. The trails lead past Sundance and Beaver Lakes and provide various vantage points to enjoy the Sundance Hoodoos. The hoodoos are reached within 1km of the parking area along the Hoodoo Trail. Combining the Lake Trail and the Hoodoo Trail is just under a 3km hike. One point to note, in 2023 there was a small landslide on the Lake Trail so hikers will need to find an alternative route around it. With the addition of the Skyline Trail the network is about 8km long.
The trails are moderately challenging and are not well maintained.
The Sundance Hoodoos near Edson Alberta are striking sandstone formations formed by erosion from wind, rain and frost. The erosion makes from some very interesting shapes, hence the name, Wild Sculpture Trail. The mushroom cap appearance of some of the hoodoos is casued when softer rock is eroded beneath are harder stone cap.
The second portion of Sundance Provincial Park is Emerson Lakes. This are has a nice, yet basic frontcountry campground and day use area. This is a small campground with 11 unserviced campsites and a group camping area. There are picnic tables, vault toilets and free firewood. Bringing your own water is reccomended.
Emerson Lake has a dock and a small boat launch. It is a popular area for fishing, paddling and standup paddle boarding. Small electric boats are permitted.
Emerson Lakes is a chain of five beautiful little lakes that are connected by a 7km trail network. The hiking trail around the lakes isn't well used, maintained or signed so it is a good idea to download a good map in advance.
The Sundance Provincial Park Picnic Area is located on the banks of the Athabasca River. The acces road is rough. 4x4's can make it, where as other vehicles may need to park further back and walk-in the rest of the way. Despite the rough road, the day use area is quite pretty. There is only one picnic table and a boat launch but that's all that is needed. It's a nice spot to walk along the river, throw some rocks, have a picnic and to fish. There are no washroom facilities here, however the Emerson Lakes Campground is about 5 miuntes down the road.
Sundance Provincial Park protectes old growth white spruce and fir forests and the Marl Fen, a bog with a significant number of rare plant species. Twelve different species of orchids including the rare bog adder's mouth (Malaxis paludusa) have been found here. Additionally there are five different species of carnivorous plants and unique aquatic plants to be found.
The park is home to moose, deer, elk, bear, and cougar. As such, it is important to keep a clean campsite and to be bear aware. Bear spray is reccommended when hiking in bear country. The park is also home to a variety of birds and waterfowl.
For those that love fishing there are five native fish species including mountain whitefish, Arctic grayling, northern pike, burbot and bull trout. Additionally, a stocking program has introduced rainbow, brook and brown trout.