5 Hidden Gem Campgrounds in Alberta, Canada
5 Hidden Gem Campgrounds in Alberta, Canada
Off-the-beaten path destinations for nature lovers.
By: Dom Carson
1. Dinosaur Provincial Park - Offseason Gem
Location: Dinosaur Provincial Park is located in Alberta, Canada. It is situated about 48 km (~30 miles) northeast of the city of Brooks and approximately 168 km (~105 miles) east of Calgary.
Campsites: There are 120 RV and tent friendly sites here. There are powered, unpowered, and pull through options. There are a wide variety of campsites in the campground from spots along the river with trees to ones backing onto the badlands (with shade structures). My favorite ones are the ones that back onto the river. S-53 is the site we always try to book.
How to Book: Reservations for camping can be made through the Alberta Parks website.
Amenities: During the offseason (spring and fall), some amenities are still available, including water, washrooms, and firewood. However, it's essential to check for any seasonal closures before planning your visit.
Water gets turned off in early October and the booth, washrooms, and firewood are usually available until October 30. Things start up again in May. There is a fantastic playground there that is really great for toddlers. There is a dump station (keep in mind there is no water for rinsing from late Oct - early May).
Helpful Notes: Summer temperatures climb really high here, so it’s nice to go in the spring when temperatures are still manageable, the bugs aren’t bad, and it’s still too cool to have to watch too much for scorpions and snakes.
Things to Do at Dinosaur Provincial Park
2. Red Lodge Provincial Park - Rustic Family Fun
Location: Red Lodge Provincial Park can be found in the heart of Alberta, approximately 130 km (~81 miles) southwest of Edmonton, 15 km (~9 miles) west of Bowden, and 121 km (~75 miles) northwest of Calgary.
Campsites: It’s a treed campground with 106 sites, both powered and unpowered. We like to stay in loop C by the river. The sites are all large, well treed, and private. The campground is located right beside Highway 587, so we find that loop A has a lot of road noise.
How to Book: Campsites can be reserved online through the Alberta Parks website.
Amenities: The park offers basic amenities, such as water, showers, washrooms, a playground, a small store, firewood for sale, and picnic areas. There is a dump station here also.
Helpful Notes: Book in here on a weekday for an even quieter experience.
Things to Do at Red Lodge Provincial Park
3. Beauvais Lake Provincial Park - A Quiet Lakeside Retreat
- Check for bear closures before you go.
- If you are bringing a watercraft, please be aware and help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and whirling disease. More information can be found on that here.
- Firewood is not available for purchase here so make sure you plan to buy firewood locally before you arrive.
Things to Do at Beauvais Lake Provincial Park
4. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park - In the Heart of the Rockies
Location: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is located 135 km (~84 miles) southwest of Calgary.
Campsites: There are five-front country campgrounds in Peter Lougheed PP to choose from. They are: Boulton Creek, Canyon, Elkwood, Interlakes, and Lower Lakes. With the exception of Canyon, they are all reservable from about mid May/June to mid-late September (depending on snowpack and weather conditions). Canyon remains a first come first served campground. Boulton Creek and Elwood both offer powered sites, while the rest are unserviced.
How to Book: Camping reservations can be made online through the Alberta Parks website.
Amenities: The campgrounds provide various amenities, including water, toilets, a payphone (there is no cell phone reception here) and a playground at Lower Lakes.
Boulton Creek offers the most amenities, with showers, equipment rentals, and an adorable store to get your ice cream fix (The Boulton Creek Trading Post).
There are dump stations at Boulton Creek and Canyon.
Helpful Notes: This is a very bear heavy area, so please bring bear spray and educate yourself on bear safety. Check for closures and always keep pets on leash and children in sight.
Things to Do at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
5. Writing-On-Stone/Áísínai’pi Provincial Park - Home of Ancient Rock Art
Location: Writing-On-Stone/Áísínai’pi Provincial Park is located in southern Alberta, approximately 100 km (~62 miles) southeast of Lethbridge and 42 km (~26 miles) east of Milk River.
Campsites: The campground is alongside the Milk River and is shaded by trees. It offers both unpowered and powered sites, suitable for tents and RVs. The reservable dates are May 19 - September 4, with first come first served winter camping available.
How to Book: Camping reservations can be made through the Alberta Parks website.
Amenities: The park offers amenities such as water, showers, toilets, a store, playground, and a hand launch. The Visitor Centre provides valuable information about the area's rich Indigenous history.
- There are rattlesnakes in the area, so be aware of your surroundings.
- Also, from the Alberta Parks website: “The environment of Writing-On-Stone/Áísínai'pi is extremely fragile. Please stay on trails at all times to prevent soil erosion and damage to plants and landforms. Do not deface rock art or landforms. Damaging any cultural resource, including rock art, may result in a $50,000 fine and a one-year jail sentence. If you see artifacts, please leave them in place and contact park staff.”
Things to Do at Writing-On-Stone/Áísínai’pi Provincial Park
Writing-On-Stone/Áísínai’pi is an incredible spot, home to the largest concentration of Indigenous rock art in North America. There are guided tours to witness the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs.
The park also offers hiking trails through the hoodoos, canoeing opportunities, and has incredible stargazing potential with it being so remote. There is even a sandy beach along the Milk River to enjoy. Check the Alberta Parks website for more information on the various events running. The park is home to many unique plants and animals that are rarely found elsewhere in Alberta.
Venturing off the beaten path can lead to unforgettable camping experiences in Alberta. From the incredible landscapes in Peter Lougheed Provincial park to the ancient rock art at Writing-On-Stone/Áísínai'pi, these gems offer some of the best Alberta has to offer.
These are some of my favorite camping spots and I hope you can get out to them and have an authentic and enriching camping adventure in the heart of Alberta's wilderness.
See more of Canada’s beauty and read about how Dom uses her Winnebago trailer as a traveling elopement photographer, in this article.
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