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Kananaskis Country sees heavy traffic, full parking lots for August long weekend

Visitors arriving to a Barrier Lake parking area late Monday morning were met by "lot full" signs. Tim Webber, Global News

A refreshing dip in a cool mountain lake was a draw many Calgarians couldn’t resist holiday Monday.

Just a 45-minute drive from Calgary, Kananaskis’ Barrier Lake is a not-so-far off destination for those looking for a reprieve from the continued heat. The scenic backdrop doesn’t hurt either.

But the go-to spot seemed a little more far-flung for many adventure-seekers, Monday.

“I mean it is pretty close to Calgary so I would say it would be worth it…. it’s a short drive and it’s a cute spot,” said Mariela Montoya, as a vehicle dropped her and her inflatable things lakeside, before continuing the loop in search of a parking spot.

Read more: Free shuttle bus, trail upgrades and park expansion included in province’s K-Country plans

“We wanted to come early because we heard it got busy so we got here about 8:45 a.m. and it was nicely empty. There was probably about a dozen cars in the parking lot,” said kayaker Sharon Loose. “We asked the parking attendant what time it got busy she said ’11 o’clock it will be full. No parking.'”

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Drivers were left jockeying for position for any open parking stalls. The province warned it would monitor parking areas and along highways for those getting creative in their hunt for a nearby spot. ‘No parking’ signs were visible along the highway surrounding a number of parking lots.

Over a year ago, the province introduced the controversial Kananaskis Park Pass after pandemic crowds made access to trailheads something of a sport. Enforcement at parking areas, like Barrier Lake, began just over a month ago.

Read more: Alberta begins enforcing K-Country park pass, Opposition promises to scrap it

Watch: Enforcement begins for Kananaskis Conservation Pass

If the arrival isn’t challenging enough, there’s also — for some — unexpected challenges along the way. Some headed west were surprised to find the usual meeting place for on-the-way gas — Petro-Canada at Highway 22 — closed.

“Yay I made it! I still have enough gas!” said Edmonton traveler Lito Aperci, as he filled up at nearby Chiniki Gas Bar in Morley.

Construction also slows traffic to 60 km/h both ways on escape and entry to Calgary’s western limits, causing traffic tie-ups for those braving the usual long-weekend migration.

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