The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
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Crescent Falls PRA is tranformed

By Glen Mazza

One of the most popular natural attractions in west central Alberta will be safer and will better handle the crowds after a significant investment from the province.

At Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area (PRA) near Nordegg on July 3, Todd Loewen, Alberta’s Minister of Forestry and Parks, along with local officials and Alberta Parks staff, showed off an impressive new structure with several viewing platforms and about 128 stairs down to the base of the waterfalls near the top of the second falls. The multi-million-dollar investment brought other improvements to PRA.

Loewen, along with Clearwater County reeve Michelle Swanson and Rocky mayor Debbie Baich, noted how visitors are drawn to the accessibility and natural beauty of Crescent Falls and the Bighorn River valley.

What visitors may not realize is the gravel road into the PRA, at least in part, follows an ancient Stoney Indigenous trail.

At the gathering, Barry Wesley from the Stoney’s Kiska Waptan (Bighorn) First Nation explained the significance of the valley. He said Crescent Falls and the Bighorn River area have been used by his people for “time immemorial” and certain areas are protected. He explained his people collected medicinal plants there and they continue to do so. There are plans to have some interpretive signs to educate visitors about the Stoney’s history in the area.

The new viewing platforms mean people can get close to the falls, but they are no longer allowed climb down banks to the bottom or walk near the base of the falls. People entering the restricted areas will risk a fine, according to parks officials who were on hand for the official reopening.

In past years, parking was could be difficult at the PRA on busy days, but now there are a couple of large parking lots. New bridges mean you will no longer have to drive or walk through a small creek to get to the day use and camping areas.

The improvements are part of a $12 million provincial investment in the David Thompson corridor and areas with improvements at Bighorn Dam Recreation Area, Coliseum, Allstones, Abraham Slabs, Hoo Doo Creek, Coral Creek, Pinto Creek, Preachers Point, Cavalcade, Kinglet/Tuff Puff, Wildhorse and Owen Creek.