Hamber Provincial Park comprises a portion of one of the world’s largest blocks of protected areas. The park was designated as part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage Site by UNESCO. For the experienced backcountry hiker, Hamber Provincial Park offers extremely beautiful scenery in a wild and rugged locale.
Hamber Provincial Park was named to honour the late Eric W. Hamber, the distinguished lieutenant-governor of B.C. from 1936-1941. With improved access in recent years, the park now sees 400-500 visitors annually.
Tucked into the midpoint of Jasper National Park on the British Columbia-Alberta border, the 24,000-hectare Hamber Park is accessible by foot. An air-accessed commercial fishing camp is located on Chisel Creek Fan (midway down the lake’s south shore). At present, the easiest access to lake shore features is by renting a boat from the fishing camp. At the Chisel Creek end of Fortress Lake there is a fly fishing lodge accessed by float plane each week during the spring, summer and fall from the base near Hinton Alberta.
At high elevation, and with pristine wilderness, this park has excellent angling opportunities, and is prime grizzly and black bear country. A rustic campground is located at the east end of Fortress Lake and several traditional campsites are identifiable along the north shore of the lake. Each campsite has a pit toilet and bear pole for storing food. Because Hamber Provincial Park is an undeveloped wilderness area with no facilities, visitors should be self-sufficient and properly equipped.
Bear Country precautions are essential with respect to travel, camping and storage – grizzly and black bear habitats area extensive throughout the park. Bear poles are available at the campsites.
The Athabasca River is bridged and a new trail has been built to Fortress Lake, distance 22 kilometres. Hikers must still ford the Chaba River. Although fairly murky, the crossing (marked by log cairns) is normally shallow and has a sandy bottom. Please use caution – all stream fording can be treacherous at times depending on seasonal daily run-off fluctuations. An old trail accessing the campsites on the north shore of the lake is open for use by hikers. No other trails exist, but midway along the north shore of Fortress Lake, Washout Creek provides steep, rugged, but relatively open access to scenic alpine tarns.
In the winter season, you can ski or snowshoe 22 flat kilometres from Sunwapta Falls into Fortress Lake to ice fish (no snowmobiling or ATVs allowed). Fortress Lake is open for ice fishing in the winter season but a long way in to travel to fish. Fortress Lake provides excellent catch and release fly fishing for trophy brook trout.
Weather in Hamber varies depending on the season. Almost half of the days during the summer have rain and wind, so hikers should come prepared for these conditions.
Hamber Provincial Park is located 15 miles (24 km) from the Sunwapta Falls in Jasper National Park. Although the park is located in British Columbia, along the BC/Alberta border, vehicles may be left in the Sunwapta Falls parking lot in Jasper National Park, but require registration with Parks Canada.
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