The Canadian Rockies are a no-brainer, but Alberta also offers badlands, Indigenous history, and dinosaur fossils.
The glacier-topped peaks, aqua lakes, and scenic campgrounds of the Canadian Rockies draw most of Alberta’s visitors, who come to explore Banff and Jasper national parks. And beyond those parks, this western province is worth visiting to hike through the Canadian Badlands’ unusual rock formations; delve into the region’s indigenous heritage; road trip along the Cowboy Trail; or visit Dinosaur Provincial Park. Alberta’s largest cities are Calgary, a 90-minute drive from Banff, and Edmonton, four hours from Jasper.
Alberta’s most popular region includes Banff and Jasper national parks, drawing visitors from around the world to Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway, and other scenic spots. The town of Canmore, 20 minutes’ drive from Banff’s south entrance, is a good place to get supplies. Waterton Lakes National Park borders Montana’s Glacier National Park south of Calgary and across the border in the U.S.
The center of the province includes Alberta’s Cowboy Trail, where cattle ranches are still active and you can trace the area’s cowboy past. Visit Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site to learn about Alberta’s heritage as a fur trading hub, as well as its indigenous First Nations and Métis cultures.
Edmonton is the jumping-off point for both Jasper National Park and the province’s vast north, where remote Wood Buffalo National Park extends into the Northwest Territories. But you don’t have to go far to delve into the wild—just outside Edmonton, more than 1,000 bison roam the protected prairies of Elk Island National Park.
In Alberta, Canada, you generally need a permit or reservation to camp in provincial parks, national parks, and some other public lands. For provincial parks, you can reserve a campsite online through the Alberta Parks website. For national parks, such as Banff and Jasper, you will need to make reservations through the Parks Canada Reservation System. Some public lands and Crown lands may also require permits, so it's essential to check the specific regulations for the area you plan to camp in.
When camping in the Edmonton area, you can find a variety of campgrounds and parks, such as Elk Island National Park and William A. Sweny Campground, where you will need to make reservations or obtain permits as required.
Random camping, also known as dispersed camping, is allowed in Alberta on public lands, including Crown land and provincial forests, with some rules and guidelines to follow:
It is important to note that random camping is not allowed in Alberta's provincial parks, national parks, or ecological reserves.
Yes, you can definitely camp in a tent in Alberta, Canada. The province offers a wide variety of camping opportunities, from well-maintained campgrounds in national and provincial parks to more remote backcountry sites. Some popular camping destinations in Alberta include Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and Elk Island National Park, as well as many provincial parks and recreation areas. Keep in mind that camping in designated campgrounds and obtaining the necessary permits is essential to protect the environment and abide by local regulations. Also, be prepared for varying weather conditions depending on the season and location.
While some camping options in Alberta do require fees, there are also free camping sites available. These free sites are typically referred to as "random camping" or "dispersed camping" and are often located on Crown land or Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ). These sites usually do not have any amenities or facilities, so campers need to be self-sufficient and practice Leave No Trace principles. Keep in mind that regulations and restrictions may apply, so it's essential to research the area you plan to camp in before heading out.
Yes, random camping, also known as dispersed or backcountry camping, is allowed in Alberta on Crown land, which is public land managed by the government. It is important to note that random camping is not permitted in all areas, and you should always check local regulations and restrictions before setting up camp. Some popular locations for random camping in Alberta include the Kananaskis Country, the Bighorn Backcountry, and the Ghost Public Land Use Zone. When random camping, it is essential to follow Leave No Trace principles and respect the environment and wildlife.
To get a campsite in Alberta, you can follow these steps: