Out of all the possible destinations to camp in Canada, camping in Alberta is tops. Here, there’s a good mix of front country sites for tents and RVs, backcountry options, plus several spots for glamping. For your convenience we’ve rounded up the very best front country camping options for you.
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Camping in Alberta
When looking for a prime spot for camping in Alberta, many people focus on the Rockies. There’s nothing wrong with that – except when you can’t find a site on your preferred dates. It used to be that you could roll up to Banff or Jasper National Park on any given summer weekend and nab a spot without a reservation. Truth!
Since that’s no longer the case, we’ve all had to cast a wider net. To help you in your search for the perfect campground, here’s a look at some of the best campgrounds across the province.
For those who wish to camp in comfort, there’s several glamping options to be aware of. We have a comprehensive post on the top glamping spots in Alberta that delves into the options (yurt, glam tent, geo domes, etc…) in detail.
There’s a host of private campsites dotted throughout Alberta. Check out this post, which reviews 14 private sites within the province.
Close to Calgary
Sundre is one of those under the radar destinations within easy striking distance of Calgary, and boasts a rad private campsite – Tall Timber Leisure Park. Sundre is quite pretty and pretty quiet. Head here for crowd-free hiking, biking and fishing opportunities along the Red Deer River.
Tall Timber Leisure Park offers:
- Pool and hot tub
- 2 Playgrounds
- Snack bar
- Baseball diamond
- 36 Fully serviced sites
- 22 Power and water sites
- Picnic table and fire pit at each site
- No tents
- Open May 1 to October 15
- Non-potable water
For more camping options in Sundre, check out this post.
You’ll find less out of province tourists camping in this region and more Albertans taking advantage of this pristine spot just outside the Park gates to Banff National Park.
The only campground right in Canmore townsite is Spring Creek RV. A stay here includes:
- Wheelchair accessible showers (coin) and washrooms
- Potable water and dump station
- 15 and 30 amp sites with water and sewer
- Some pull through sites
- Picnic table and fire pit at each site
- Walking distance from downtown Canmore and the trails along Spring Creek
- No tenting allowed
Minutes from the town of Canmore are several other campsites. This post lays them all out for you.
Likely the most popular Kananaskis campground is Mt Kidd RV Park. It sports 229 sites that range from fully serviced, semi-serviced and no hook-up sites. Some sites even have TV hook-ups! Each sites has:
- Picnic table and fire pit
- Access to washrooms, but showers may be closed depending on COVID restrictions.
- Tents are welcome
Check out this post that delves into the many other Kananaskis campgrounds.
Banff National Park Camping
The only campsites you’re going to find in Banff National Park are those run by Parks Canada. Some of the most popular front country sites close to the town of Banff are:
There’s several campsites at Tunnel Mountain. Choose between Village I or II, an oTENTik or the trailer section. (An oTENTik is part tent, part A-frame cabin, kitted out with beds, furniture and lighting.)
Tunnel Mountain is ideal for those who aren’t quite sure how isolated they want to be. From Tunnel Mountain, it’s totally possible to walk into Banff townsite, but there’s also a public bus you can hop on.
Good to Know
- Village 1 is the largest in Banff with over 600 spots
- Tunnel Mt Village II is smaller than Village I, but II is closer to town. Not all sites have a fire pit.
- Both villages offer: flush toilets, showers and sanitation dumps
- Camping runs mid-May 14 until early October
Two Jack Lake
Another campground split into two sites, Two Jack Lake is slightly further from town – about a 10-15 minute drive away from Banff, so you can still get the best of both worlds. On rainy days, being able to swoop into the townsite is a bonus for young families
Two Jack Lakeside campground is right on the shores of Two Jack Lake. Two Jack Main is situated along Lake Minewanka. Both sites are pretty rustic with no services. The Main campground has more spots, but it opens a few weeks later.
No gear? At Two Jack you can book into one of their equipped campsites or an oTENTik.
Lake Louise Campground
Lake Louise is one of the premier spots to visit in Banff National Park. Lake Louise Campground is the closest camping option to the town of Lake Louise. The campsite is about 1 km away and it’s 4 km from the lake itself.
Good to Know
- 189 Hard-sided, shared double sites for camping units only (no tents, pop-outs or soft sided campers)
- 15-30-50 Amp power
- Sani-dump station
- Not all sites have a fire pit
- 206 Soft-sided sites
- Sites are enclosed by an electric fence to prevent wildlife visits
For more info on camping in Banff, refer to this comprehensive Banff camping post.
Jasper National Park
Some people think Jasper National Park is prettier than Banff. It’s hard to say, but Jasper certainly has lots of lovely, swimmable lakes that are an incredible shade of blue. This National Park is also flush with camping options. Firewood and fire permits are included in your reservation fee for any sites within this Park.
Whistler’s had a major, multi-year overhaul and is set to reopen this summer. When it does, it’ll have upgraded shower and restroom facilities and a paved two way, pothole-free road.
Good to Know
- 781 sites + oTENTiks
- Washrooms and hot shower facilities
- Interpretive programming
This pretty campground is nestled near the Athabasca River. It offers tenting and electrical hook-up spots for RVs. Wapiti sports 362 sites with amenities like hot showers, electricity and fire pits.
A good option for small RVs (under 35 ft) and tents, Wabasso has 231 sites. There’s no showers here, but there are toilets and electrical sites. Best is you’ll be next to the Athabasca River and have easy access to hiking and biking trails.
Honeymoon Lake Campground
Situated on the Icefields Parkway (one of the world’s greatest road trips) between Lake Louise and Jasper, Honeymoon Lake Campground is about a 40-minute drive south of Jasper Townsite. They don’t take reservations here, so take your chances to snag one of the 25 sites – best suited for tents or smaller RVs (under 27 ft).
Not to miss in Jasper
- Visit Spirit Island via the Maligne Lake Boat Cruise. In a few years the pine beetle will have destroyed the trees on the island. Go now!
- Take the SkyTram up to the top of Whistlers Mountain
- Go whitewater rafting
- Bike the Athabasca River trails
Want to throw in the towel and book a hotel? Jasper has a super high percentage of cabins and lodges with their own exterior entrances. Check out these awesome accommodation options.
Writing on Stone Camping
An often overlooked gem, Writing on Stone Provincial Park is a must visit for anyone looking to stay in an otherworldly landscape. Writing on Stone camping is run through Alberta Parks and is offered year round.
Good to Know
- 47 Power sites are available year round
- Sites are well shaded in the Milk River Valley
- The Milk River is quite warm and shallow near the campground, so bring your bathing suit (and a lot of towels)
- Visitor Center and supply store on site
- Playground and plenty of hiking trails through the hoodoos
- Flush toilets, showers
- Water and sewage disposal
- Each site has its own fire pit and picnic table
- Reservation camping runs from the May long weekend until September long weekend
Elk Island Camping
Just outside of Edmonton lies this gem of a national park. Camping is run through Parks Canada. They have a wide variety of options, such as:
- oTENTiks at Astotin Lake Campground
- Winter camping (unserviced, but access to kitchen shelter and outhouses)
- Group camping sites for up to 60 people (may be suspended during COVID)
- Equipped campsites that come with a tent, sleeping pad, stove, laster (you bring the bedding)
The most popular camping option at Elk Island is at Astotin Lake Campground. Amenities include:
- 75 Non serviced sites (includes 15 for walk-in tenting)
- Each site has a picnic table and fire pit
- Near flush toilets and showers
- Potable water
- RV dump/fill station
- Camping runs mid-May to Thanksgiving
Elk Island Retreat
Just outside the National Park lies this private enterprise, complete with yurts, tipis, cabins and geo-domes. Glamping here is swish! You can even add wine and a charcuterie board to your camping reservation!
- Elk Island National Park is home to 700 bison roaming freely throughout the park. Take a Behind the Senses tour with Parks Canada to learn more.
- Astotin Lake is tops for SUP, canoeing and kayaking
- There’s plenty of hiking and biking trails, mind the bison, though!
- The Park is part of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, making it a prime spot to view the Northern Lights
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
There are a dozen campgrounds in Peter Laughed Provincial Park. What’s particularly rad about camping here is that you get a very similar experience to Banff National Park with epic mountain views and wildlife viewing opportunities. Pack your clubs if you’re a golfer. Kananaskis Country Golf Course is nearby.
Only 3 of Peter Lougheed’s front country campsites can be reserved in advance. They are:
- 61 Unserviced sites
- 69 Sites with power and water (30 amp)
- Tap water
- Playground, fire pits, paved biking paths
- Close access to hiking trails and Kananaskis Lakes
- Showers ($2 token) and flush toilets (may be closed due to COVID)
- Interpretive programs
- 86 Unserviced sites
- 37 Power and water sites
- 32 Power, water and sewer sites
- Well treed sites with fire pits
- Quick access to hiking trails, paved bike paths and the Kananaskis Lakes
- Equipment rental and supply store on site
- Camping runs mid May – mid October
Lower Lake Campground
- 95 Sites – 83 of which are reservable, but unserviced
- Easy access to Kananaskis Lakes, hiking trails and bike paths
- Pit toilets
- Playground, fire pits
- Tap water and pump
Mounta Sarrail doesn’t take reservations and is set up for walking-in tenting only. It sports:
- 44 Well treed sites
- Pit toilets
- Fire pits
- Food storage
- Lake access, trails for hiking and biking (some paved)
Rocky Mountain House Camping
An often overlooked destination, this National Historic Site has plenty of cultural and outdoorsy activities to amuse the troops. Those wanting to stay overnight can bed down in a front country campsite, a fully equipped campsites (Parks Canada provides the main gear – tent, stove, etc…), and there’s even glamping options.
Front country camping
- 10 Sites for walk-in tenting
- 24 Unserviced trailer sites
- Kitchen shelter
- Picnic area and fire pits
- Flush toilets
- Showers (may be unavailable during COVID restrictions)
This is what really sets Rocky Mountain House apart. Choose between camping in a tipi, Métis Trapper Tent or a rustic cabin. More info:
- Trapper Tents sleep up to 5 on twin or double beds
- Tipis sleep up to 8
- Cabins sleep 6 people – 2 on a bed and 4 sleeping mats
- Bring your own sleeping bags/linens
- Community fire pits and picnic tables
- Washroom facilities
Each Heritage Camping fee includes a fur trade camping kit with a bison hide, period cooking kit (utensils, bannock mix, tea) and a fire-starting kit, so you can make like you’re a fur trader from back in the day.
Crescent Falls Campground
This privately run site is a half hour drive from Nordegg and 2 hours from Lake Louise. Amenities include:
- 31 Non-serviced, well treed sites
- Equestrian sites available
- Outhouses and water
- Firewood available for purchase
- A 2.5 km trail leads you from the campground to a Crescent Falls lookout. It’s impressive!
Fish Lake Campground
In the same Nordegg/Rocky Mountain House neck of the woods you’ll find Fish Lake, which is sometimes referred to as Shundra Lake. This campground is operated by Westward Bound Campgrounds and offers:
- 100 Sites – some unserviced, some with power, some waterfront and some pull-through
- Sites are spacious and most are surrounded by trees
- On the lake (flush with rainbow trout) you can use electric motor boats
- Access to OHV trails in the area, plus swimming, biking and hiking
- Pit toilets
Alberta Camping Reservations
To reserve any National Park campsite (Banff, Jasper, Elk Island), your best bet is with their online registration system which typically accepts summer reservations in January, but during COVID it was pushed back to April.
Alternatively, you can call: 1-877-RESERVE (737-3783). If you’re outside North America, call: 519-826-5391.
For provincial campsites, visit the Alberta Parks online reservation system.
MORE CAMPING AND OUTDOOR IDEAS:
Private campsites on Vancouver Island
Best hot springs in Alberta
Alberta’s best beaches
Where to kayak in and around Banff
Itinerary for a perfect weekend in Banff
Fun Jasper summer activities
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I haven’t been to Alberta yet — and I haven’t been camping in forever — but both are very high on my list! These photos exude natural beauty, splendor, and relaxation. So alluring!
Camping scares me! I would do it but I don’t have any equipment. I guess glamping. (which we are doing in Arizona this summer) Is better for me