camping


Summers in Alberta are hikes in the alpine, treks along glacier-fed rivers, picnics in wildflower-filled valleys and long road trips across grassy plains. They're also the perfect time to sleep under the stars.

If you're adventuring on a shoestring budget camping offers a thrifty solution. There are plenty of great designated campsites but what if you're intent on going off the grid, or can't be bothered to make a reservation? For a secluded place to pitch your tent, we've found a host of free campsites scattered across Alberta. We can't guarantee that these spots will be as well-maintained as a private campground or even conveniently located (in fact, some require hiking into), but if you want a low-key, completely free place to lay your head for the night, these 34 rustic campsites will do the trick.

PS - if you're heading west to B.C. you should check out 50 Free Campsites in British Columbia 

 

Want to see where these rank against Canada's greatest campsites?

Click here to download our free eBook:

Canada's 35 Greatest Campsites

  

              

1. Dead End Road

Site overview: This location has up to five campsites available for use.

Amenities: Near the water and a biking trail.

Location: This campsite is located about 12 kilometres southeast of Smoky Lake, on a municipal road allowance heading south from Township Road 584A and equivalent to Range Road 164. Access is from Highway 28, south on Range Road 165 to a T-junction and then east about 1.5 kilometres on a gravel road.

 

2. Rio Grande Sports Grounds

Beaverlodge

Site overview: Other than the first weekend in July, this campground tends to go unused.

Amenities: There’s swimming, hunting and wildlife viewing available.

Location: Southwest of Beaverlodge, along Red Willow River, at the Rio Grande Sports Grounds.

 

 

3. Slawuta Pond

Bonnyville

Site overview: There are six campsites available at this location, and it’s adjacent to Jesse Lake.

Amenities: Picnic tables, a playground, hiking trails and Jesse Lake offers a walking trail around the lake.

Location: Slawuta Pond sits at the corner of Lakeshore Drive and 51 Street, Bonnyville.

 

4. Steveville Campground

Duchess

Site overview: There are up to 15 campsites available here, and a nice beach along the Red Deer River.

Amenities: Picnic tables and pit toilets are available. You’ll find fire rings and swimming for those hot summer days.

Location: This campground is situated just after the small bridge on 876, on the right side.

 

5. Little Berland

Grande Cache

Site overview: There are up to 15 campsites available at this location, and RVs can be a maximum of 25 metres.

Amenities: There are hiking trails here for your enjoyment.

Location: Situated 70 kilometres north of Hinton on Highway 40.

 

6. Cactus Corner

Hanna

Site overview: There are up to 15 campsites available here.

Amenities: Picnic tables, drinking water, restrooms and trash cans.

Location: This campground is right across the street from Cactus Corner and the Flying J in Hanna, into the woods.

 

7. Strong Creek Park

Peace River

Site overview: There are 10 campsites available here, and free firewood.

Amenities: There’s a playground, restrooms, picnic tables and the grounds are near water. 

Location: 15 kilometres from Peace River, on Shaftsbury Trail (684.)

 

8. Severn Dam

Standard

Site overview: There are over 30 campsites available here.

Amenities: Drinking water, restrooms, near the water and wildlife viewing is available. 

Location: Located on Secondary Highway between Standard and Rosebud, about half a mile east of the paved road. There are signs directing you.

 

9. Cecil Thompson Park

Peace River

Site overview: This is a county park.

Amenities: None

Location: Located at the intersection of Secondary Highway 688 and Highway 2, about seven kilometres east of Peace River.

 

10. Sheep Creek Provincial Recreation Area

North of Grand Cache

Site overview: There are up to 15 campsites available at this location. 

Amenities: Fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, trash cans and near water.

Location: Located just off Highway 40, on Sheep Creek Road, about 30 kilometres outside Grande Cache.

 

11. Horsethief Canyon Viewpoint

Drumheller Area

Site overview: This campsite is a large section of gravel, overlooking the parking lot. The site is reported to be level and quiet.

Amenities: None

Location: Just off the N. Dinosaur Trail, Highway 838, Drumheller.

 

12. Municipal campsite in Dorothy

Dorothy

Site overview: This site will offer you a great view of the badlands.

Amenities: Fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms and water.

Location: Township Road 270B, Dorothy.

 

13. Public land

Bow River (Canmore Area)

Site overview: This site is a pull-off area with a small parking lot on the side of the highway. There’s room for four or five tents on a private, grassed area, and you’ll get stunning views of the mountains.

Amenities: None

Location: Just off Highway 1, along the Bow River near Canmore.

 

14. Orkney Hill Viewpoint

Drumheller

Site overview: This is a large gravel plot overlooking the parking lot.

Amenities: None

Location: Just off S. Dinosaur Trail, Drumheller

 

15. Red Earth Creek Community Hall

Red Earth Creek

Site overview: There are a few campsites next to the community hall.

Amenities: None

Location: Red Earth Creek, 167 km north of Slave Lake

 

Random Camping

Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ)

public use land zone map(c) Permission to use this map was obtained with explicit consent from Environment and Parks Alberta

*CLICK ONTHE MAP to view a larger version. Note: this map is current to July 28, 2016. 


Alberta has a network of designated public land use zones (PLUZ) that permit wilderness camping. Users should practice leave-no-trace etiquette and abide by the following restrictions: 

  • Campers MUST be at least 1 km from any public land recreation area and outside provincial recreation areas.
  • Campers MUST be at least 1 km from a roadway, Provincial Park or Provincial Recreation Area boundary.
  • No motorized vehicles are permitted to leave the road except on trails specially designated for off-highway vehicles of a particular size or type. 

Read complete details regarding permissions and regulations of camping on PLUZ land hereaep.alberta.ca/recreation-public-use/camping

 

 

16. Public Land Use Zone

Allison/Chinook

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted in this area. Campsites and fires must be one kilometre from a provincial recreation area. Off-highway vehicles are only permitted on designated trails. Hiking and horses are permitted.

Amenities: None 

Location: Directly west of Lethbridge, along the BC border, and just off Tecumseh Road.

WebsiteClick here 

 

17. Public Land Use Zone

Athabasca Ranch

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are all permitted, as well.

Amenities: None

Location: Just off Highway 40 North and adjacent to Highway 18, outside Hinton.

WebsiteClick here 

 

18. Public Land Use Zone

Blackstone/Wapiabi

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is available 100 metres or more from the lakeshore. Off-highway vehicles, snowmobiles and motorized boats are not permitted. Hiking and horses are permitted. 

Amenities: None 

Location: Located northwest of Rocky Mountain House, at the southern edge of Jasper National Park.

WebsiteClick here

 

19. Public Land Use Zone

Brule Lake

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles are permitted on designated trails. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted. 

Amenities: None 

Location: Brule Lake PLUZ is located just off Highway 16, on the edge of Jasper National Park, straight west of Edmonton.

WebsiteClick here

 

20. Public Land Use Zone

Castle Special Management Area

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles are permitted on designated trails. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None 

Location: Located on the border to BC, along Highway 774 southwest of Pincher Creek.

WebsiteClick here

 

21. Public Land Use Zone

Cataract Creek

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles are not permitted to leave the roadways, and snowmobiles are restricted to designated trails. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None 

Location: Travel straight west of Medicine Hat, to the BC border. Cataract Creek is located off Highway 22, along Secondary Highway 532.

WebsiteClick here

 

22. Public Land Use Zone

Coal Branch

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles are permitted on designated trails only. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None

Location: Located near Brule Lake PLUZ, Coal Branch is south of there, just off Highway 40 and along the edge of Jasper National Park.

WebsiteClick here

 

23. Public Land Use Zone

Dormer/Sheep

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted, 100 metres or more from the lakeshore. Off-highway vehicles are permitted on designated trails, and there are weight and width restrictions. Motorized boats are not permitted. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None

Location: West of Rocky Mountain House, on the edge of Banff National Park. This PLUZ is located in the area around Sheep Creek, in Bighorn Backcountry.

WebsiteClick here

 

24. Public Land Use Zone

Ghost

Site overview: Random camping is permitted. There are several pay camping grounds within this area.

Amenities: None

Location: Located just off Highway 579, along the edge of Banff National Park.

WebsiteClick here

 

25. Public Land Use Zone

Holmes Crossing

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles are not permitted, and snowmobiles are only permitted on designated trails. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None

Location: Holmes Crossing is located between Edmonton and Grande Prairie, just off Highway 763. You’ll find it just south of the Athabasca and Freeman Rivers.

WebsiteClick here

 

26. Public Land Use Zone

Job/Cline

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted and you must be 100 metres or more from the lakeshore. Off-highway vehicles are permitted on designated trails, but there are weight, width and date restrictions. Snowmobiles are only permitted on designated trails. Hiking and cross-country skiing are permitted, but no motorized boats.

Amenities: None

Location: The Job/Cline PLUZ is located beside the Blackstone/Wapiabi PLUZ, and next to Jasper National Park.

WebsiteClick here

 

27. Public Land Use Zone

Kananaskis

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles are not permitted. Hiking and cross-country skiing are permitted, and horses are permitted on designated trails.

Amenities: None

Location: The Kananaskis PLUZ is located next to the Cataract Creek PLUZ, between highways 40 and 22 southwest of Calgary.

WebsiteClick here

 

28. Public Land Use Zone

Kiska/Wilson

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted 100 metres or more from the lakeshore. Off-highway vehicles are permitted on designated trails, with certain weight, width and date restrictions. Motorized boats are not permitted, but hiking and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None

Location: Located within the Bighorn Backcountry, just south of Blackstone/Wapiabi and in the area around Abraham Lake.

WebsiteClick here

 

29. Public Land Use Zone

Whitecourt Sandhills

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles are not permitted and snowmobiles are only permitted on designated trails. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted. The area is 27 square kilometres.

Amenities: None

Location: Located just off Highway 43, between Grande Prairie and Edmonton.

WebsiteClick here

 

30. Public Land Use Zone

McLean Creek

Site overview: McLean Creek is a well-known spot for off-highway vehicles to have fun. Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles are permitted on the designated trails. Snowmobiles, hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are all permitted.

Amenities: None

Location: Located next to the Kananaskis PLUZ, southwest of Calgary.

WebsiteClick here 

 

31. Public Land Use Zone

Panther Corners

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted more than 100 metres from the lakeshore. Off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles are not permitted. Hiking, horses and skiing are permitted, with trails for riders and skiers.

Amenities: None

Location: Located just south of the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in Bighorn Backcountry, off Highway 734.

WebsiteClick here

 

32. Public Land Use Zone

Sibbald

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted. Off-highway vehicles are not permitted and snowmobiles are only permitted on designated trails. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None

Location: Located off Highway 68 in Kananaskis Country

WebsiteClick here

 

33. Public Land Use Zone

Upper Clearwater/Ram

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted more than 100 metres from the lakeshore. Off-highway vehicles are permitted only on designated trails, and there are certain weight, width and date restrictions. There are designated trails for snowmobiles, as well, and there are date and location restrictions. Motorized boats are not permitted. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None

Location: Located just west of the Ram Falls Provincial Park, off Highway 734, along the edge of Banff National Park.

WebsiteClick here

 

34. Public Land Use Zone

Willow Creek

Site overview: Random, no-service camping is permitted in designated nodes. Off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles have weight restrictions – each not to exceed 800 pounds. Hiking, horses and cross-country skiing are permitted.

Amenities: None

Location: Located just off Highway 532, along the BC border straight west of Medicine Hat.

WebsiteClick here

 

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