Natural Region & Subregion
When you picture Alberta's natural beauty, several distinct landscapes come to mind. These are Alberta's natural regions. Alberta's parks preserve representative examples of this environmental diversity.
William A. Switzer Provincial Park is located in the Foothills Natural Region which is
- A transitional zone between the Rocky Mountain and other natural regions located along the eastern edge of the Canadian Rocky Mountains
- Characterized by strongly-rolling topography and morainal deposits underlain by deformed sandstone and shale
- Cooler in summer temperature due to its higher elevations
The region often escapes the severe cold of Arctic air masses in winter, resulting in warmer winter temperatures than occur in the Boreal Forest and Parkland natural regions.
Each natural region is divided into subregions based on even more specific landscape, climate and species distinctions. There are 21 subregions in Alberta. William A. Switzer Provincial Park preserves a part of the upper foothills sub-region which is situated between the lower foothills and subalpine sub-regions. It has the highest summer precipitation in Alberta.
Significant Natural Features
- Jarvis Creek - one of the most diverse, relatively intact and productive river valley habitats in Alberta's foothills
- High plant diversity including provincially and nationally rare plant species
- Calypso orchids (also known as the Venus lady slipper), found in association with the park's pine forests
- Rare or uncommon ferns found in the sandstone cliffs above Gregg Lake
- Important elk, moose and deer habitat
- Critical terrestrial fur-bearer habitat
- Nesting habitat for osprey
- Uncommon birds such as yellow-bellied flycatcher, Philadelphia vireo, winter wren, black-breasted woodpecker, barred owl and pileated woodpecker
- Erratics, kames, kettles and eskers
- The park lies in a preglacial valley that once held the Athabasca River. The area has been modified by the action of glaciers, glacial meltwater and present-day water processes to produce these interesting features.
Switzer Park has lots of wildlife watching opportunities.