It is time to start planning those camping adventures for 2023, so I thought I would try to share some of our previous family camping trip favorites. Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park had been on my camping bucket list for years, and we originally had it scheduled as part of an extended trip down to Yellowstone in the summer of 2020. And then Covid happened. After some convincing to get my husband on board to go that far South and not actually leave the province, the next year we struck out trying to secure a reservation. 2022 was finally our year and I was very excited when I was able to book a weeklong stay in early July.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park Campground

Edmonton to Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park is a solid 6-hour drive, and, of course, takes much longer once you add in rest stops and account for hauling a packed trailer. It didn’t look like there was much there coming in to the park, but the moment we crested the hill and got a look into the valley where the campground sits, we were all pretty excited! With fond memories of climbing through the hoodoo-topped hills in Dinosaur Provincial Park, my son immediately asked to hop out and start climbing. Of course being stuck in the vehicle for the better part of the day may have helped add to that.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park Campground

We all really enjoyed our week at the Writing-On-Stone Campground. We typically don’t stay that long in one spot and were afraid there wouldn’t be enough to keep us occupied, but there was plenty to do without even leaving the Provincial Park. The campground is well equipped with a small store, day-use area, playground, beach, amphitheater, and visitor centre. The sites are a mix of power and non-power and unfortunately, I managed to miss that fact and book a non-powered site for our 35+ degree week. Luckily the store had slushes and ice cream treats to help make up for the lack of air conditioning in the trailer!

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park Campground

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park is proud to be Canada’s 20th UNESCO World Heritage site. It joins the likes of Dinosaur Provincial Park, to which we felt there were many similarities. Much like Dinosaur, it has a fantastic Visitor Centre that sits a top the hill overlooking the campground. It is a short walk through the hoodoo hills to get to and was wonderfully outfitted with interactive exhibits and displays all about Áísínai’pi (the Blackfoot word for the area meaning “it is pictured/written”). We lucked out and were in the park for Canada Day so there were several great additional activities planned like a scavenger hunt, tipi-raising, informative tours, and free birthday cake!

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park

We were also SO excited to see the return of the Amphitheatre Shows after the Covid hiatus. We got to see the premiere of a brand new show and it was the perfect mix of humour, silly props, singing, and learning. The Parks staff always do an incredible job making these fun and entertaining, including opportunities for the kids to be part of the show! I always make a point to check out the campground schedule when we check in at a provincial park to make sure we don’t miss out on any of the fun.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park Amphitheatre Show

Bring Your Floaties

The Milk River winds in a unique horseshoe shape around the Writing-On-Stone campground, making it easy to hop in the river at one side and take a leisurely float to the beach area on the other side. We brought our tubes along and ended up making the short float several times to try and keep cool on the hot days. There are easy access points at both ends and the Milk River is typically shallow and slow-flowing enough that this is a great activity for kids and adults alike.

Writing-On-Stone Beach

We also have really come to enjoy family trips down the river on our four person raft and the Milk River offered the perfect opportunity for a leisurely float with plenty of great scenery along the way. We were able to arrange shuttle transport and put in at Coffin Bridge about 30 km up river from the campground. The float was pretty slow and took the better part of the day, but were we able to see thousands of swallow in the nests along the cliffs, a couple high soaring bald eagles and falcons, several leaping deer, and many many cows up close on the river banks along the way.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park Milk River Cows

Hike the Hills

You can’t visit Writing-On-Stone without exploring the uniquely formed hills. The hills in and around the campground made it easy to give the kids a bit of freedom to venture off and explore on their own (after a thorough warning to watch and listen for snakes). We also did a longer hike family hike on the Hoodoo Trail up to the Police Coulee Viewpoint. We tried to wait for a cooler day, but it was still pretty hot for a hike in the open sun and I was thankful my husband came up with the idea to divide and conquer. The boys started at the bottom of the trail, while my daughter and I drove the vehicle to the top and hiked our way down. We met in the middle for a quick snack and water break, then the vehicle was waiting for the boys when they made it to the top of the hill. Our poor bulldog struggled in the heat so it worked well that we were able to do the full trail without having to go all the way up and back down.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park Hoodoo Trail

Book a Behind the Scenes Tour

One other activities we really enjoyed was the Rock Art guided walking tour. These tours run out of the visitor centre and are the only way you are able to enter into the gated Archaeological Preserve area. These paid tours include a short bus ride into the area, where a friendly Park Interpreter takes you on a guided walking tour to see some of the sacred carvings (petroglyphs) and paintings (pictographs) that have been left in the sandstone hills. Our host did a wonderful job sharing the history, stories and language of the Niitisippi (first people) with us.

These tours can be booked online or at the visitor centre. They do often fill up, so we made sure to book ahead.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park Rock Art Tour

As you have read, there was plenty to see and do on our trip to Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park. Going with the notion that sometimes things happen for a reason, I was glad we had the opportunity to spend a full week rather then just spending a day or two enroute our originally planned trip. It was the perfect spot to relax and unwind while learning about other cultures and making some fun new discoveries along the way.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park