/Glamping in Alberta

Glamping in Alberta

Camping (I’m talking about a tent here) tends to lose its lustre when children are brought into the fold. At least it did for us. That early morning light creeping through the tent’s nylon walls. The unsuccessful shushing of the toddler who begins babbling at 5 am. That’s what led us to throw in the towel. Fortunately there’s an entire world of comfort camping out there. Some call it glamping, I call it heaven. Here are a few of my favourite luxury outdoor accommodations in Alberta.

Forget the tent! Check out these 10 Amazing spots for glamping in Alberta

If only tent camping was as idyllic as this makes it look

Wheel Estate camper and trailer rentals

I never understood why people invest in campers. They’re expensive and a hassle to deal with off season. Apparently over 1 million travel trailers in Canada only get used 14 days a year. For real. Even in season, where do you park the massive beast? Tally up your insurance costs and storage fees, and you might as well spend a week at a resort instead.

Glamping in Alberta

Wheel Estate has a variety of cutesy (and of course, very manly) campers to choose from.

For those folks who love the novelty of camper camping, but don’t want to shell out for their own trailer, Wheel Estate comes to the rescue. This nifty online service allows trailer owners to rent their units to verified guests. Owners earn money by listing their trailers for free and renters get use of a camper without the hassles of ownership. It’s a also a cool way to test drive units you’ve got your eye on. Think of Wheel Estate like Airbnb for outdoorsy folks.

beach views from car

Car camping looks cool, but its reality is something different

Camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park

The Comfort Camping suites in Dinosaur Provincial Park are in a word: amazing. You get to spend the night in this massive safari-like tent in one of the world’s most significant dinosaur sites. This is a world renowned fossil park, and no other site in the world comes close to the number of dinosaur fossils or complete skeletons found.

Each tent is decked out with a fridge, proper bed and even an electric fireplace. They’ve got cutlery, lights and a couch, too! Eve and I spent some time in one of these tents, but weekend availability is pretty hard to come by. Still, there are plenty of mid-week options available this summer. If you can only get away during the weekend, consider venturing a tad further from Calgary at Writing on Stone.

Glamping in Southern Alberta

Further south, Writing on Stone Provincial Park is another excellent camping option. The campground is paces away from a natural sand beach, where you can swim or tube. And you’ll love all the shade provided by those towering cottonwood trees in the Milk River valley. Each canvas tent has its own private deck, fire pit and barbecue. It’s pretty much the same set up as at Dinosaur Provincial Park, but this sacred site contains the largest concentration of First Nations pictographs in North America.

sacred indian ground

Writing on Stone Provincial Park has been a sacred site for centuries (Photo credit: Alberta Parks)

Tent-cabin combos in Canadian National Parks

Three National Parks within striking distance of Calgary: Banff National Park, Jasper National Park and Elk Island National Park offer Equipped Campsites. You can read more about my experience with Eve in an equipped site in Banff at Two Jack Main Campground here. Essentially, you get a six-person tent set up for you with a sleeping pad, stove, eating utensils, pots and lantern provided. You only need to bring your sleeping bag. And food. And mama might require wine. 

oTENTik banff national park

This my friends, is what an oTENTik looks like. (Photo credit: Parks Canada/Paul Zizka)

These three National Parks also offer oTENTiks. These tent-cabin combos are equipped with a bbq, bunk beds and electric plug-ins. It makes camping such a breeze, you’ll wonder why you ever pitched a tent.

Stay in a tipi in Waterton

Two traditional First Nations tipis are set up at Crandell Mountain Campground in Waterton Lakes National Park each summer. You have to bring more gear for the canvas tipis (sleeping pads, cooking utensils, etc…) but staying in such a unique shelter makes it worth it. For those who don’t want the fuss of packing, equipped campsites are also on tap at the Townsite campground.

Yurts at Pigeon Lake

Pigeon Lake was the cool lake when I went to University. And by cool, I mean warm. This is a warm lake, where all the cool people cabined. Sorry for the confusion. Here, you’ll find insulated yurts (round tent-like structures) that are mounted on a spacious wooden deck on the shores of the lake. In case you’re not in the know, Pigeon Lake is an hour away from Edmonton and about a two hour drive from Calgary.

yurt in fall

How magical does this yurt at Pigeon Lake Provincial Park look? (Photo credit: Alberta Parks)

Back to the yurts, they’re set up just like a hotel room, only you bring the bedding. They’ve got so many bed options, and I especially love how they’re wheelchair accessible. Now if you really, really want four solid walls around you, check out The Village at Pigeon Lake. Here, you’ll find a hotel, spa, some really good restaurants and lots of fun shops. I’m so enamoured by this complex it’s on my spring bucket list.

Rocky Mountain House trappers tents

You’ve got plenty of options at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site for heritage camping experiences. Campers can spend the night in a First Nations Tipi or Métis Trappers Tent (real beds in this one). To get you in the mood, Parks staff offers fire starting kits and even a period cooking class. I recommend having the kids watch the cooking class, too. If only so they realize just how hard it is to cook a marshmallow without burning it.

roasting marshmallows

Crafting the perfectly toasted marshmallow is harder than it looks, people.

Cabins in Northern Alberta

Still not convinced camping is your thing? Head up north, way north, and rent The Nest. Ideal for larger groups and family reunions, this timber frame lodge is situated in the Boreal forest at Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park. It’s an actual cabin, so you won’t have to deal with sleeping upon uneven ground, and you’ll stay toasty warm inside should it rain. It’s got a wood burning fireplace in the great room plus laundry facilities. If that’s not an ideal bolthole for families, I don’t know what is.

camping collage

Have you ever gone glamping? Where are your favourite spots to rent?

About the Author:

I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

18 Comments

  1. Katja 08.05.2017 at 10:28 - Reply

    It’s like you wrote this post for me! I’m so rubbish sleeping under canvas but I would happily spend several nights in any of these options – especially the yurts!

    • Jody 08.05.2017 at 11:11 - Reply

      I know! The yurts are crazy warm, too. Something you need during crisp nights in Canada.

  2. Francesca 09.05.2017 at 06:58 - Reply

    The tent-camping alternatives sound great and all but I’m more interested in the parks and locations you mention! Dinosaur and Writing On Stone Provincial Parks need to be added to my family’s travel hit list. But back to the camping… I stayed in a yurt in Montana that was far from luxurious, but it was so fun! I’d totally do it again.

    • Jody 09.05.2017 at 18:20 - Reply

      Families love Dinosaur Provincial Park and Writing on Stone. They’re just so unique.

  3. Anu 14.04.2018 at 10:49 - Reply

    It is great to see so many options for glamping in Alberta. While the glamping has to be experienced, the destinations that you mention themselves look very attractive.

    • Jody 14.04.2018 at 11:37 - Reply

      Yes, so many options in Alberta!

  4. Shruti Prabhu 16.04.2018 at 00:56 - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to go glamping. Camper vans look like so much fun. I definitely want to do a camper van trip either in US or in Australia. Dinosaur Provincial Park sounds like something I would like. And my husband is a dinosaur enthusiast. Thanks for the inspiration. I will keep the options in mind.

    • Jody 16.04.2018 at 07:35 - Reply

      Yes, that’s the great thing about glamping. You can kind luxe spots around the world.

  5. Chris Bloomfield 16.04.2018 at 19:44 - Reply

    We have been Glamping in America for almost two years now, but after reading your article I feel we are missing out. I need to get us up to Alberta! Marshmallows are tricky and my youngest just has me toast his because getting it perfect is tough.

    • Jody 16.04.2018 at 20:23 - Reply

      Well if you’re American, your dollar is worth a whole lot more in Canada. You’ll find luxurious camping options for less than you’d find in the US I imagine.

  6. Indrani 16.04.2018 at 23:28 - Reply

    Glamping is something I am yet to experience. The idea seems adventurous, sleeping in tents and traveling in camper vans. Alberta does look like a spot to halt and experience.

    • Jody 17.04.2018 at 14:59 - Reply

      I bet you’d love it!

  7. Rosemary 17.04.2018 at 12:48 - Reply

    I really love the idea of renting a camper. I guess it makes sense given the success of Airbnb. I’ve not had a chance to go glamping yet, but glad to know there are so many options. The yurt is particularly fascinating. I love the beauty of the Canadian national parks. I hope to visit sometime soon.

    • Jody 17.04.2018 at 15:00 - Reply

      I hope you get to visit Canadian National Parks, too. Yes, the Wheel Estate angle is pretty cool.

  8. Carol Perehudoff 17.04.2018 at 14:11 - Reply

    Gosh, Jody. These are some fabulous ideas. I love the idea of glamping in Canada and I didn’t need kids to help me lose it’s lustre. My top pick would be Dinosaur Park, just so I could wander out at night and commune with the dinos. Though Writing on Stone Park sounds so amazing, too. I’d try Wheel Estate just for the imaginative name haha.

    • Jody 17.04.2018 at 14:59 - Reply

      You need to come out to Alberta, girl!

  9. Medha Verma 18.04.2018 at 01:09 - Reply

    I cannot believe I did not stay in one of those super cool camping sites in Banff National Park when we were there 2 years ago! I love camping, even in a tent, and yurts as well as cabin & tent combination cabins are amazing because they combine the comfort of staying in a proper room with the adventure associated with camping and idyllic location. What a lovely list of camping sites in Alberta!

  10. Kirstie 18.04.2018 at 03:56 - Reply

    This blog is definitely a game changer for campers, especially those who want to camp in style and comfort for a change! Camping has also been synonymous to something tedious and troublesome — which is true to some extent — which intimidates would-be campers. Glamping is also perfect for veteran campers who just want to be in the great outdoors AND be in a 5-star worthy lodging. Also, if anyone wants to try camping in a camper without hassle (and cost) of buying one, Wheel Estate is the perfect solution!

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