[MEDIUM] Wainwright Dunes Ecological Reserve

This ER anchors the northern boundary of the larger Parkland Dunes which extends 50 km south to Sounding Lake. The ER adjoins CFB Wainwright and the Wallaby Lake PRA.


Wainwright Dunes ER - Stabilized and Active Dunes, July 20, 2013 (Alberta Parks)
Wainwright Dunes ER – Stabilized and Active Dunes, July 20, 2013 (Alberta Parks)

Map of the Area

Any maps and map views are for general information only. Do not rely on them for navigation or to determine legal boundaries.

Other Information

Wainwright Dunes Ecological Reserve is part of a large and diverse area of sand dune, outwash and kame moraine; some dunes reach heights of 30 metres. Plant communities include a mixture of stunted aspen groves, low shrubs and grasslands. Plant species include sand heather and Houghton’s hedge. Rare plant species include annual skeletonweed, sand nut-grass, moss gentian and linear-leaved sundew.

Wainwright Dunes is difficult to reach. It can be approached from the west via Hwy 41 or from the south via Hwy 13. The nearest public road to the Reserve is roughly 1.6 km from the boundary. There are no public roads in Wainwright Dunes. Travel within the Reserve is restricted to foot only.

AWA’s Parkland Dunes Areas of Concern Map; Alberta Wilderness Association.
AWA’s Parkland Dunes Areas of Concern Map; Alberta Wilderness Association.

Part of Parkland Dunes. The Alberta Wilderness Association’s Parkland Dunes includes this ER. The Parkland Dunes extends about 50 km further south to Sounding Lake. This area is described as: rolling hills of native grasses interspersed with lush aspen groves, peatlands, and vibrant wetlands, the Parkland Dunes is an oasis in an otherwise agriculture-dominated landscape [1].

Aspen and Fires. Development has prevented natural fire regimes from taking place allowing shrubs and trees to take over grasslands. In Wainwright Dunes Ecological Reserve, the last recorded fire was in the 1980s. Shrub encroachment is “squeezing out” of species associated with the grasslands and dunes ecosystems. The AWA recommends prescribed burns to re-balance the eco-system [1].

Buffalo, Bombs, and Dunes. Canadian Forces Base Wainwright was previously the Wainwright Buffalo Park Reserve. It was turn over to the military in 1940 and was used as both a training and prisoner of war camp. In 1988, the ER is established south of the base [1].

Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. In 1908, Wainwright was named for a official with the GTPR [2].

Site Statistics

Site NameWainwright Dunes
Site TypeEcological Reserve
SubtypeOrder-in-council (OC)
Natural Region(s)Central Parkland
O.C. No. (Land Ref. Manual)39/88
PASite ID (Map Ref #)487
Site # (Parks Website)412
Total Area2821.03 ha. (6970.66 ac.)
Recreation ActivitiesHiking – backcountry
Operated ByParks Division
Notes and Comments
Statistics and Details for Wainwright Dunes Ecological Reserve
Wainwright Dunes ER Site Map (Government of Alberta)
Wainwright Dunes ER Site Map (Government of Alberta)


The following links are provided as a courtesy but are not verified or endorsed by SAPAA. Clicking on the link will cause you to leave the SAPAA website. Primary source of information is: Information & Facilities – Wainwright Dunes Ecological Area | Alberta Parks (All links accessed on 2023-02-10).

  1. Parkland Dunes – Alberta Wilderness Association
  2. Aubrey, Merrily K., ed. Concise Place Names of Alberta. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2006; p. 343.

Further Reading

Editing, Review and Silence Procedure

  1. FRANK: Publish page
  2. HUBERT/PATSY: Assign page for editing by update tbd in the Title (4-
  3. Review for readability and alignment to SAPAA organizational reputation.
  4. Best available image
  5. Review for accuracy including:
    1. Correct map and site statistics
    2. Area size is correct
    3. Standards (e.g. use of hyphens, spelling, etc.)
    4. References are accessible and and notes match
  6. Review for formatting, e.g.: Centered captions, No empty blocks
  7. TEAM: Last walk through
    1. Any final discussion or notes
    2. Remove [name] from title
    3. Add to log book for silence procedure
    4. Delete these notes.

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