Coyote Lake, AB (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

Coyote Lake, AB (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

Coyote Lake Conservation Area

Coyote Lake, Alberta (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

Coyote Lake, Alberta (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

Protecting a dream

In 1996, Doris and Eric Hopkins fulfilled a long-held dream: their generous donation of land, along with the support of local landowners, the provincial government and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), ensured that the nature they came to respect would be protected in perpetuity with the creation of the Coyote Lake Conservation Area.

Almost 24 years earlier, the couple had purchased the land as their retirement property through a Canadian Pacific Railway auction. They soon realized the significance and natural values of the property when a study found that the area showed no effects of industrial or agricultural pollutants. This further emphasized to Eric and Doris the importance of conserving their land and the land surrounding Coyote Lake.

Conservation values

Located 100 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, the lake is situated within one of the richest biological areas of Alberta. Nestled in a transition zone between the dry mixed wood boreal forest and the central parkland natural regions, the Coyote Lake area supports more than 22 mammal species, 154 bird species (nine of which are imperiled), 266 plant species (including a number of rare and uncommon orchids and Columbian watermeal — a species first recorded in Alberta at this site).

Project history

When the Hopkins decided to donate their land to NCC after the organization purchased 320 acres (130 hectares) on the southeast corner of the lake in 1994. Combined with donations from neighbouring landowners and land designated as Natural Areas by the province, the Hopkins' donation contributed to a total of 800 acres (324 hectares) of lands conserved here by NCC.

Their success inspired the Hopkins with another dream: to conserve the lands along Coyote Lake Creek to the North Saskatchewan River. Eric Hopkins passed away in November 2006 before seeing this dream completed. The Alberta Region created the Eric Hopkins Memorial Fund to raise money to see this dream realized.


On September 30, 2006, at the Annual Recognition Awards Dinner, the Alberta Region of the Nature Conservancy of Canada introduced two new awards:

  • The Eric and Doris Hopkins Stewardship Excellence Award has been created to honour those individuals or groups who demonstrate their commitment to the conservation of ecologically significant lands in Alberta through the Nature Conservancy of Canada. It was our honour to present this newly created award to Doris and Eric Hopkins in recognition of their dedication and commitment to conserrvation.
  • Our inaugural Volunteer Steward of the Year award was presented to Oscar Zawalsky for his tireless work at the Coyote Lake Nature Sanctuary.

The Alberta Region also nominated Doris Hopkins for the 2006 Yves Rocher Women of the Earth Award.

The conservation area today

The property is designated into two parts: the Nature Sanctuary (320 acres/129 hectares) and the Conservation Area (480 acres/194 hectares).

The Coyote Lake Nature Sanctuary is open to the public for daytime visits and self-guided hikes. Group walks and guided tours are available by prior arrangement through NCC. Visitors may use the premises at their own risk.

When visiting the sanctuary, please:

  • Register at the house upon arrival.
  • Respect the wildlife and other visitors.
  • Use the picnic area provided.
  • Remove your own garbage.
  • Travel on designated paths only.
  • Ensure that all dogs are accompanied by their owner and controlled on a leash at all times.
  • Refrain from lighting fires or smoking.
  • Refrain from boating on the lake.
  • Respect that the sanctuary does not permit the removal of any plants or animals.

The Coyote Lake Memorial Grove lies within the forest of the Coyote Lake Nature Sanctuary. This site is dedicated to the memory of those who held nature close to their hearts. For families who would like to remember their loved ones in a peaceful natural environment, there is a short loop trail where permanent plaques can be placed. The trail is wheelchair-friendly.


  1. From Edmonton, head south on Highway 2, then west on Highway 39 (exit at Leduc) and pass through Calmar.
  2. Fifteen after Calmar, turn right onto highway 622 to continue west (There is a sign for the Heartland Inn, HWY 39 turns south). 
  3. Pass by Telfordville and through St. Francis.
  4. Stop at Hwy 770 after St. Francis, then continue west for 13 kilometres (Hwy 622 turns into Township Road 500).
  5. Turn left (south) at Range Road 44 (Signs for Coyote Lake) and follow the road for 1.6 kilometres to the parking lot.

For more details please contact our Calgary Office toll-free at 1-877-262-1253 or by e-mail at


  • Anonymous October 22, 2013 - 10:44
    lovely area - hope to return again soon.

  • Anonymous August 14, 2013 - 11:29
    I lost track of Doris and Eric ... could you send her my email and if she chooses to reply, it would make my day. irene gagne

  • Jaimee December 17, 2012 - 5:00
    We would love to have you out at Coyote Lake! We often hold volunteer events out at the nature sanctuary. If you want more information feel free to contact me (Conservation Coordinator in the Edmonton Area) "at"

  • Anonymous December 16, 2012 - 10:32
    WOW! To just realized that this is in my own backyard. This is a must-see obviously. Can they run school programs like Crimson Lake? This sure would cut down on travel time for students out of Drayton Valley.

  • Doug September 30, 2012 - 2:38
    Lovely story, thanks Stuart McLean and Vinyl Café. Next summer we will journey to the conservancy.

  • Anonymous September 30, 2012 - 11:34
    thanks Heard it today on Vinyl cafe as well

  • ghemeyer September 29, 2012 - 1:54
    Heard the amazing story of the Hopkins family on Vinyl Cafe. Going to visit Coyote Lake today!!!! so inspiring :)

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