Gaetz Lake Sanctuary

Red Deer

Difficulty: Easy - Family
Park Amenities:
Interpretive Signs
Wildlife Watching

The Gaetz Lake Sanctuary is a birdwatching and hiking trail destination located, just north, of the downtown city core of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.

Red Deer Photo GalleriesIn 1924, the Gaetz Sanctuary became Alberta's first bird sanctuary courtesy of John and Grace Gaetz. The sanctuary was conceived so to protect the native plants, animals and birds of the area.

Throughout the Red Deer Gaetz Sanctuary are hiking trails, various information billboards, exhibits and interpretive signs depicting the geography of the area, wildlife and the history of Waskasoo Park.

The Gaetz Sanctuary is also home to an interpretive centre called the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and a heritage home named the Allen House. The Allen House is an Edwardian farmhouse from 1912. It was the home of W.G. Allen who was the first city auditor of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and instrumental in the building of Red Deer's first library.

Some of the activities enjoyed in the sanctuary park include birdwatching, hiking, photography, picnicking, sightseeing and educational programs. There is no biking or cross country skiing permitted in the sanctuary

There are over 5 kilometres of hiking trails in the Gaetz Lake Sanctuary. Along the trails are viewing platforms, a bird blind, gardens, information signs, sightseeing benches and lookout points for viewing the birding wildlife.

There are two trails in the park - the Dr. George and Wishart Trails. The Dr. George Trail is a 1 kilometre loop trail exploring the wetland marsh area around the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. The trail is wheelchair friendly and includes a boardwalk lookout viewpoint, interpretive signs and sitting benches.

The Wishart Trail is a 4 kilometre loop trail exploring the outer rim of the Gaetz Sanctuary. The trail visits lookout points and viewing platforms looking out over East and West Lake. The Wishart Trail includes some sections with stairs and steep hills. There are some sections which are wheelchair and baby stroller friendly. How many bird houses can you spot?

The Wishart Trail also connects to the 7 kilometre Waskasoo Park South Bank Trail which follows the Red Deer River from Heritage Ranch to the McKenzie Trails. The McKenzie Trails are located directly north of the sanctuary on the South Bank Trail.

Some of the birding wildlife commonly viewed in the wetland area of the sanctuary include the common goldeneye, northern shoveler, mallard, american wigeon, lesser scaup, american coot, blue-winged teal, yellow-headed blackbird, red-winged blackbird, red-breasted mergenser, ring-necked duck and the bufflehead.

Near the entrance of the sanctuary is a large parking lot and some washrooms, a picnic area, an information centre, phone and gift store.


Gaetz Lake Sanctuary
Red Deer

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