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Parks line both sides of the North Saskatchewan, which flows through the city from the southwest to the northeast.
The Saskatchewan River valley west of William Hawrelak Park in Edmonton.
Looking south over the Saskatchewan River valley, with a view of Victoria Golf Course and the University of Alberta.
City-provided wooden stairs wind down into the river valley.
The High Level Bridge arcs over river valley parkland south of downtown Edmonton.

The North Saskatchewan River valley parks system is a continuous collection of urban parks in the North Saskatchewan River valley of Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton's river valley constitutes the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America, and Edmonton has the highest per capita area of parkland of any Canadian city. The river valley is 22 times larger than New York City's Central Park. The public river valley parks provide a unique urban escape area with park styles ranging from fully serviced urban parks to campsite-like facilities with few amenities. This main 'Ribbon of Green' is supplemented by numerous neighbourhood parks located throughout the city, to give a total of 111 square kilometres (27,400 acres) of parkland. Within the 7,400 hectare (18,000 acre), 25 kilometre (15.5 mi) long river valley park system there are eleven lakes, fourteen ravines, and twenty-two major parks. Most of the city has excellent bike and walking trail connections.[1] These trails are also part of the 235 km Waskahegan walking trail.

Several golf courses, both public and private, are also located in the river valley. The long summer daylight hours of this northern city provide for extended play well into the evening. Golf courses and the park system become a winter recreation area during this season. Cross-country skiing and skating are popular during the long winter. Four downhill ski slopes are located in the river valley as well, two within the city and two immediately outside.

The City of Edmonton has named five parks in its River Valley Parks System in honour of each of "The Famous Five".


Parks and facilities

The largest area in the river valley is occupied by municipal parks:

  • Hermitage Park
  • Forest Heights Park
  • Emily Murphy Park
  • Rundle Park
  • Dawson Park
  • William Hawrelak Park
  • Gold Bar Park
  • Louise McKinney Park
  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park
  • Goldstick Park
  • Queen Elizabeth Park
  • Whitemud Park
  • Capilano Park
  • Kinsmen Park
  • Terwillegar Park
  • Kinnaird Park and Ravine
  • Victoria Park

The City also operates several public facilities in the river valley:

The provincial government owns the following sites in the river valley:

Hiking, cycling, and multi-use trails run throughout these parks and connect to other trails through the city and outside as well forming an integrated system. The river valley parks in particular are part of the Waskahegan and Trans Canada trail systems.


Trail into the river valley, near downtown Edmonton.

Edmonton's river valley park system is home to porcupines, deer, coyotes, bears, skunks, muskrats, rabbits, and beavers.

Edmonton's streets and parklands are also home to one of the largest remaining concentrations of healthy American Elm trees in the world, unaffected by Dutch Elm disease, which has wiped out vast numbers of such trees in eastern North America. Jack Pine, Lodgepole Pine, White Spruce, White Birch, Aspen, Green Ash, Basswood, various poplars and willows, and Manitoba Maple are also abundant; Bur Oak is increasingly popular. Introduced tree species include Blue Spruce, Norway Maple, Red Oak, Sugar Maple, Common Horse-chestnut, McIntosh Apple, and Evans Cherry. Three walnut species -- Butternut, Manchurian Walnut and Black Walnut -- have survived in Edmonton.[2]

Politics and planning

Cranes at work near the river valley.

The River Valley Alliance is a grouping of municipal governments in the Edmonton region that have committed to expanding the River Valley Parks System outside of Edmonton's city limits. The plan calls for a 18,000-acre (73 km2) zone to be called the "Capital Region Valley Park" stretched over 88 kilometres running from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan.[3]

In January 2008, the City of Edmonton paid a record C$7 million to buy a parcel of land to fill in a gap in the otherwise continuous chain of parks. The city further promised to spend C$20 million of pedestrian bridges and trails, but said that the as yet unnamed park would be left in an undeveloped state.[4]

See also


  1. ^ City of Edmonton, Transportation Department (January, 2007). "Edmonton Roadway Bicycle Map" (pdf). City of Edmonton. Retrieved 2007-10-27.  
  2. ^ Barkley, Shelley (2007-05-22). "Juglans sp. (Butternut/Walnut)". Government of Alberta.$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/opp4044?opendocument=. Retrieved 2007-10-27.  
  3. ^ "Our Vision". River Valley Alliance. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  4. ^ "Filling a gap in valley trail system". Edmonton Journal. 2008-01-05. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  

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