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Camping in Alberta

From the other-worldly Canadian Rockies to the quiet of Northern Alberta and Southern Alberta’s badlands, there’s nothing quite like camping in Alberta! Travellers from the world over come to see Banff, Jasper, and Waterton Lakes national parks. national parks. Camping ranges from dark sky preserves and rustic backcountry sites to deluxe RV camping. You’ll spot a few bears, eagles, or even a bison during your time in Alberta. Yee-haw!

Camping in Alberta - G. Lamar
Photo: G. Lamar
Camping in Alberta - aagay
Photo: aagay
Camping in Alberta - jan_mosimann
Photo: jan_mosimann
Camping in Alberta - luckylynda74
Photo: luckylynda74
Camping in Alberta - Government of Alberta
Photo: Government of Alberta

EXPLORE OUR MEMBERS’ FAVOURITE CAMPGROUNDS

Top-rated campgrounds in Alberta

5 Reviews

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park, established in 1885 as Rocky Mountains Park. Located in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, 110–180 kilometres (68–112 mi) west of Calgary, Banff encompasses 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with many glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are nei...

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5 Reviews

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park, in Alberta, Canada, is the largest national park within Alberta's Rocky Mountains, spanning 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi). It was established as Jasper Forest Park in 1907, renamed as a national park in 1930, and declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984. Its location is north of Banff National Park and west of Edmonton. The park contains the glaciers of the Columbia Icefie...

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1 Reviews

Banff - Lake Louise National Park

Lake Louise (named Ho-run-num-nay (Lake of the Little Fishes) by the Stoney Nakota First Nations people) is a glacial lake within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Situated 11 km (6.8 mi) east of the border with British Columbia, Lake Louise is located 5 km (3.1 mi) west of the hamlet of Lake Louise and the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). Lake Louise is named after the Princess Louise C...

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Banff, Kootenay and Yoho Backcountry National Park

Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park, established in 1885 as Rocky Mountains Park. Located in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, 110–180 kilometres (68–112 mi) west of Calgary, Banff encompasses 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with many glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are nei...

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3 Reviews

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park is in the southwest corner of Alberta, Canada. The national park borders Glacier National Park in Montana, United States. Waterton was the fourth Canadian national park, formed in 1895 as Kootenay Lakes Forest Reserve. It is named after Waterton Lake, in turn after the Victorian naturalist and conservationist Charles Waterton. Its range is between the Rocky Mountain...

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2 Reviews

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is in Kananaskis Country about 90 kilometres (56 mi) west of Calgary, along the Kananaskis Trail in Alberta, Canada. This park is within Alberta's Rocky Mountains. The park was originally named Kananaskis Provincial Park, but was renamed after Peter Lougheed, premier of Alberta from 1971 to 1985, when he retired in 1986. One of the largest provincial parks in Albe...

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Bow Valley Provincial Park

Dead Man's Flats is a Hamlet within the Municipal District of Bighorn No. 8. Statistics Canada also recognizes it as a designated place under the name of Pigeon Mountain. It is located within Alberta's Rockies at Highway 1 exit 98, approximately 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) southeast of Canmore and 78 kilometres (48 mi) west of Calgary.

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1 Reviews

Sheep River Provincial Park

Sheep River Provincial Park is a provincial park located in Alberta, Canada, 23 kilometres (14 mi) west of Diamond Valley on highway 546. It is part of the Kananaskis Country park system and encompasses a portion of the Sheep River valley. Located on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, the park includes the Sheep River Wildlife Sanctuary, which provides permanent habitat for bighorn shee...

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GET SPOTS AT SOLD-OUT Alberta PARKS

How to scan Alberta parks for cancellations

Is the Alberta park you want to camp at sold out? We can help! Campers often cancel their camping reservations. Campnab monitors Alberta parks and can text you when a suitable campsite one opens up! 🙂

Browse parks in Alberta

A map of campgrounds in Alberta

DISCOVER CAMPING IN Alberta

Campnab scans these Alberta parks for cancellations

Information about Alberta camping

Your guide to Alberta parks and camping

Alberta is a big province that spreads over 661,848 km² (255,541 square miles) and has many distinct geographic regions. This diversity results in vastly different settings and activities, ranging from epic mountain traverses to horseback riding in the soft rolling hills. You could spend the entire summer camping in Alberta and barely scratch the surface.

Alberta has five national parks, over 470 provincial parks and protected areas, and many privately owned campgrounds. These parks offer many different camping opportunities, ranging from car camping and RV parks to hike-in wilderness tenting, equestrian camping, comfort camping (cabins, huts, yurts), and dedicated areas for group camping. (Some brave souls also winter camp in Alberta. Brr!) In addition to popular favorites like Jasper and Banff, parks like Elk Island, Bow Valley, and Dinosaur all have something unique to offer.

Those looking for a truly unique camping experience might visit a historic warden cabin in the backcountry or camp at an icefield. Or, you might camp with triceratops in the Badlands—and go fossil hunting by day. (Perhaps followed by a trip to The Royal Tyrell Museum?) Those wanting to get away from it all might stargaze in Jasper—a Dark Sky Preserve, or paddle the extensive lakes of Northern Alberta.

Given Alberta’s varied geography, you can expect to see animals ranging from elk and deer to bears, wolves, moose, and a whole lot of different types of birds. Those looking for another kind of wildlife might take in The Calgary Stampede (in July) or let their shopping demons go hopping at West Edmonton Mall.

You can experience all four seasons in Alberta (in Calgary, they might all land on a single day 😉). Blistering summer temperatures give way to beautiful autumn colours, followed by brisk winters. Most camp in Alberta during the summer, so, anticipate some crowds on weekends. Fall is a great time to camp as it’s free of mosquitos and crowds. (Have you read Campnab’s Fall Camping Guide?)

As noted, weather can change quickly in Alberta. So, go prepared, especially if you plan to camp in the backcountry. Just because it’s hot at sea level doesn’t mean you won’t wake up to snow in the mountains. Alberta is home to many bears (and other wild animals), so store food safely, dispose of your trash, and practice good bear safety. Do your research before taking a trip to collect the required permits, licences, and gear—while educating yourself about any seasonal closures and fire restrictions that might be in place.

Questions and answers about Alberta camping

Alberta Parks frequently asked questions

How do I get camping reservations in Alberta?

You can book campsites at Alberta’s provincial parks on Reserve Alberta Parks. Campsites at Alberta’s national parks are reserved through the Parks Canada Reservation Service. There are also many private campgrounds and RV parks. These mostly take reservations individually. You can often find these campgrounds by pulling up Google Maps and searching for campgrounds in the area you’d like to visit.

Why is it so hard to find campsites in Alberta?

Campsites are in high demand all over, and Alberta’s parks are world-famous. Plus, the camping season in Canada is reasonably short. Folks in the area enjoy camping, and there are only so many weekends in the summer. All of these factors result in campgrounds booking up quickly.

How does Reserve Alberta Parks work?

Reserve Alberta Parks is Alberta Parks reservation platform. You can use the platform to view parks and the available campsites within them (including description, location, amenities, photos, and associated fees). Once you’ve created an account on the booking system, you can use it to reserve a campsite or call their contact centre at 1-877-537-2757. This phone number is toll-free in North America.

How much does it cost to reserve an Alberta Parks campsite?

You’ll see some variation in camping rates based on the type of campsite you book. You can book basic campsites for $8 to $31 per night. Backcountry camping is $12 per person per night (kids under 16 camp in the backcountry for free but still need a permit). Group campgrounds have a base rate of $60 to $150 per night, plus additional fees based on the number of camping units reserved for the stay.

If hookups are available, these have an extra cost associated with them. You’ll also need to pay a $12 reservation fee when you make online bookings. You might also require a vehicle parking pass. For more details on fees at Alberta Parks, visit the Fee Guidelines page on Alberta Parks’ website.

What time do campsites become available on Alberta Parks?

Alberta Parks has a reasonably short window for booking individual and backcountry campsites compared to other areas. You can make a reservation up to 90 days before your arrival date. This window is bigger for group and comfort camping, which can be booked up to 180 days before your arrival date. This booking window advances by one day, every morning at 9:00 a.m. Mountain Time. Each booking can extend up to 10 days past your arrival date.

What is the trick to getting campsites on Alberta Parks?

Consider mid-week stays, camping in the shoulder season, and less popular parks to put the odds in your favor. You can also monitor parks for cancellations, as many campers’ plans change over the season.

How do I get campsite availability alerts for Alberta Parks?

Visit Campnab and enter the name of the park you wish to camp at in the Find a Park area. Then follow the steps to note which campgrounds you’re interested in, when you want to visit, and your minimum stay length. You can also scan this park or get a membership to scan others. Once you complete your scan, Campnab will check for any campsite/permit cancellations matching your criteria and send you alerts of new openings via text message and/or email.

Is there a bot that automatically books campsites on Alberta Parks?

No. Although many suspect bots book campsites, this doesn’t happen en masse. Those sites just get booked up quickly as so many humans are trying to reserve at the same moment. If you wish, you can watch this long video explaining why campsite booking bots aren’t a thing.

Can I sell my camping reservation from Alberta Parks?

You are not allowed to resell your camping reservation from Alberta Parks.

Can I transfer my camping reservation from Alberta Parks?

You cannot transfer a reservation from Alberta Parks. Only the holder of the account or an authorized user listed on the account is allowed to check in at the campground. Here’s a link to more of Alberta Parks’ Campsite Reservation Rules.

How do I cancel my camping reservation with Alberta Parks?

Alberta Parks allows you to cancel or change your reservation online or by phoning the Contact Centre: 1-877-537-2757. If you cancel more than 72 hours before 2:00 of the originally scheduled arrival date, you’re eligible for a refund of your camping fees (not including the reservation fee).

How does Parks Canada’s Reservation Service work?

Parks Canada allows you to reserve frontcountry and backcountry sites in Canada’s National Parks. This booking service runs on Camis’ familiar and easy-to-use reservation platform, seen in many other regions. To use the Parks Canada Reservation Service, you’ll need to create an account using Interac/bank credentials or a GCKey. This part is a bit tedious, but you can find step-by-step instructions on how to do so in our article How to prepare for Parks Canada’s new booking site.

How much does it cost to reserve on Parks Canada?

Parks Canada charges $11.50 to make a reservation online and $13.50 to reserve by phone. Daily booking fees vary based on what you’re reserving (e.g., individual campsite, comfort camping, group campsite) and associated amenities.

What time do campsites become available on Parks Canada?

Launch dates for Canada’s national parks vary greatly, depending on the area and park. For 2024, Parks Canada will start accepting reservations as early as January. For a detailed list of when sites open up for reservations, visit Parks Canada reservations, scroll down to the area titled ”Reservation launch dates”, and click on the twirl down for the province/territory you’re interested in.

What is the trick to getting sites on Parks Canada?

There are many ways to put the odds in your favour when trying to reserve a campsite—at Canada’s National Parks and elsewhere. Here are our recommendations:

  • Go camping at less popular times

  • Do your research well in advance

  • Be ready when parks open for reservations

  • Scan parks for cancellations (there are lots of these)

  • Try to be flexible with your camping plans/requirements

  • Consider alternatives (e.g., boondocking, private campgrounds)

  • Try to pick up a first-come, first served campsite

That’s the short version. If you’d like more details, read our article Campsite Booking Tips and Secrets for more detailed notes on all of these points.

How do I get notified about new openings at national parks in Alberta?

Set up a scan on Campnab. Once you’ve noted where and when you’d like to camp, our campsite scanner will monitor your chosen park 24/7—and alert you to any new openings that match your search criteria.

Can I sell my camping reservation from Parks Canada?

No. You can’t resell any reservations made through Parks Canada. If you attempt to resell a reservation made through Parks Canada will render it void.

Can I transfer my camping reservation from Parks Canada?

You can change the name of the permit holder (camper) for a reservation made through Parks Canada, free of charge. You must complete this change before you arrive at the park.

How do I cancel my camping reservation on Parks Canada?

You can cancel your Parks Canada reservation by logging into your Parks Canada account. Then select *My Reservations*, find the reservation you want to cancel and click “Cancel this Reservation”. You can also cancel by phone at 1-877-737-3783 or 519-826-5391 outside North America.

Alberta camping resources

Links to help plan your Alberta camping trip

Alberta Parks: The Province of Alberta’s official parks website offers information on park locations, activities, and reservations, as well as trip-planning resources.

Reserve Alberta Parks: The official booking site for reservations at Alberta’s Provincial Parks. (Please note that the site uses a queueing service that might delay your access at busy times.)

Parks Canada: The Government of Canada’s official site for the national parks offers information for all of Canada’s national parks, including ones in Alberta, like Banff, Jasper, and Waterton Lakes.

Parks Canada Reservation Service: The government of Canada’s online booking platform allows you to reserve campsites and permits for national parks in Alberta. (You need a GCKey or to use a banking partner to access the Parks Canada Reservation Service.)

Travel Alberta: The official website of Tourism Alberta provides information on general tourism opportunities within the province, including attractions, activities, and accommodations.

UNABLE TO RESERVE A CAMPSITE?

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Tell us when, where, and how long you want to camp for. We’ll notify you (via SMS) when a suitable spot opens up at that campground—so you can nab that sold-out campsite reservation!

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