If you want to get off the beaten path, go camping in David Thompson Country! Only three hours from Calgary, this beautiful area boasts fantastic camping and hiking. From the Icefields Parkway to Rocky Mountain House, you can find a peaceful place to stay. Here is where we like to stay on “the road less travelled”, the David Thompson Highway (Hwy 11).
Thompson Creek Campground (first come first served, 56 unserviced sites) is the closest campground to the Icefields Parkway. Sites are of varying sizes, but all are well shaded. Firewood sales available. We stayed here on a Sunday night in July and found a spot easily as the campground was only half full. The location makes it a great base camp for exploring the Icefields Parkway and West (David Thompson) Corridor, but I recommend Two O’Clock Creek for mountain views!
Two O’Clock Creek Campground (first come first served, 20 unserviced sites + 6 walk-in tent sites) is across the highway from the Siffleur Falls trailhead. Sites are partially shaded or in full sun, but most have beautiful mountain views. The campground can get super windy, so I don’t recommend tent camping here. Firewood sales available. A great base camp for exploring the western corridor.
Crescent Falls Campground (first come first served, 34 unserviced sites including 12 tent-only sites and 22 RV site) is located walking distance from beautiful Crescent Falls. Know before you go: A creek crossing is required to access the campground, so camping here isn’t recommended for longer trailers. 2023 Update: Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area is closed for construction until further notice.
Nordegg Area (Central)
Fish Lake (Reservable, 80 unserviced sites, 24 power sites) is one of the largest campgrounds in the area and has lovely lakeside spots in Loops 1 & 2. Loop 5 has sites backing on to Mud Lake (more of a pond). Purchase snacks, camping gear, firewood, and fishing lures at the Bear Essentials Store in Loop 4. Our favorite things to do here are fishing (the lake is stocked with rainbow trout), paddling, and walking around the lake. Bikes are permitted on the trail, but we found the trail a bit narrow and rooty for the kids. Centrally located about 6 km from Nordegg.
Goldeye Lake (first come first served, 44 unserviced sites) is across the highway from Fish Lake, a short drive from Nordegg. Campsites are smaller with fewer trees in between, but there are a few campsites near the the lake. There is also a lakeshore hiking trail, fishing (the lake is stocked with rainbow trout), and paddling. For canoe rentals, contact Goldeye Centre.
Beaverdam Campground (first come first served, 11 unserviced sites) has a pier so you can access the water, and good fishing downstream.
Dry Haven Campground (first come first served, 14 unserviced sites) is a no frills campground with shaded and sunny sites. Note there is no water pump onsite.
Harlech Campground (first come first served, 17 unserviced sites) has OHV trails nearby and fishing in Shunda Creek or the stocked trout pond.
Peppers Lake Campground (first come first served, 16 unserviced sites) has well treed sites by the lake, a hand launch, and fish cleaning station. There is no fee to camp here, but there are no garbage bins onsite and pit toilets do not have toilet paper or hand sanitizer. Pack out all trash and bring your own TP and hand sanitizer. A Friends of the Eastern Slopes Association membership is requested to camp here.
Nearby attraction: Brazeau Collieries (National Historic Site)
Crimson Lake Provincial Park has two campgrounds: Crimson Lake and Twin Lakes. We love beach time, biking, and paddling at Crimson Lake. With great family and evening programs and the friendliest campground hosts ever, you will want to return year after year! Crimson Lake is a large, full-service campground (reservable, 161 power sites) and Twin Lakes is a basic campground (reservable, 39 unserviced sites). For more information on camping and recreational opportunities in the park, please see: Fun Times at Crimson Lake Provincial Park.
- Nearby hiking/biking trails: Amerada Trail, Beaver Pond, Twin Lakes Boardwalk
- Nearby attractions: Wilderness Village petting zoo (free), pony rides ($), and trail rides ($); Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site
Chambers Creek Campground (first come first served, 25 unserviced sites) has 85 km of developed and unofficial trails in the area for hiking, mountain biking and OHVs.
Horburg Campground (first come first served, 3 unserviced sites, 9 walk-in tent sites) offers good access to North Saskatchewan River from a hand launch, and over 80 km of hiking, mountain biking, and OHV trails.
Jackfish Lake Campground (first come first served, 5 unserviced sites): is a little campground with treed sites by the lake. There’s a boat launch if you’d like to get on the water.
More Campgrounds in David Thompson Country
These campgrounds require driving several kilometres down gravel roads or on a very rough road. Campers should be self sufficient.
- Ram Falls Campground (44 reservable sites, 10 first come first served sites in Loop 1, unserviced sites) is located next to beautiful Ram Falls. Walk to the falls, fly fish on the South Ram River, and enjoy the solitude. Located 64 km from Nordegg, you will have to drive 59 km on Forestry Trunk Road 734 S.
- Saunders Campground (first come first served, 7 walk-in tent sites): This small campground has walk-in tent sites that are popular with paddlers/boaters entering/exiting the North Saskatchewan River. The 6.5 km access road from Hwy 11 is very rough.
These rustic campgrounds have limited amenities, so bring your own drinking water and firewood.
Year Round Camping in David Thompson Country
Where to winter camp in David Thompson Country:
- Crimson Lake has 11 winter campsites with power. Bring your own water and firewood in the off season.
- Peppers Lake Campground is open year round. Please consider purchasing a Friends of the Eastern Slopes Association membership if you camp here.
- Elk Creek Campground is open year round. Please consider purchasing a Friends of the Eastern Slopes Association membership if you camp here.
- Random camping (see below) is also available year round.
Random Camping in David Thompson Country
Random camping is not permitted in the provincial parks or provincial recreation areas, but is allowed in wildland areas and public land use zones (PLUZ) with some restrictions.
Random Camping Areas in David Thompson Country
DYK there are random camping areas in David Thompson Country you can camp at with an Alberta Public Lands Camping Pass? A pass is required for everyone 18 & over. Fee: $20 per person for a 3-day pass / $30 per person for an annual pass. Note: You will also need to purchase a one-time Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) and pay a $3.25 processing fee plus GST.
Once you have your public lands camping pass, you can camp for free at: Preacher’s Point, Cline Landing, Abraham Slabs, Allstones, and other roadside pullouts along Abraham Lake. Preacher’s Point is not recommended for tent campers (too open/windy); go east to any of the other areas for a more sheltered campsite.
Random Backcountry Camping in David Thompson Country
Random backcountry camping areas in David Thompson Area include: Siffleur WA Wilderness Area, Wapiabi, and White Goat WA Wilderness Area. For more information, please see Alberta Parks – Random Backcountry Camping.
If you go… leave no trace
If you choose to random camp, please practice leave no trace to keep the area beautiful and clean: bury human waste, pack out ALL garbage (even if it’s biodegradable), and dispose of grey water properly. In May 2021, a bear in David Thompson Country was euthanized after repeatedly seeking human food. 🙁 Another was put down in 2020.
It is most important to not go to the washroom or dispose of grey water within 60 metres (200 feet) of the lake or any water source. Human waste and grey water belong in the outhouse and diapers / feminine hygiene products belong in the garbage. If garbage bins are full, please pack out your trash and dispose of it at home.
Finally, bring your own firewood. Did you know it’s a ticketable offense to collect and burn deadfall? Dead trees are a home for small animals and an important source of nutrients to other forest plants as they biodegrade especially in fragile alpine environments. Finally, wherever possible, reuse an existing fire pit before making a new one. Best practice is to dismantle fire pits when they’re no longer needed.
Let’s keep our parks clean and safe for everyone!
What to Bring
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Good hiking boots, a down hoody or fleece, toque, gloves, and windproof/waterproof shell are recommended year round. Trekking poles are useful for long hikes, steep descents, or when you’re carrying a heavy pack. You should also carry The Ten Essentials including: water, extra food, extra clothes, a first aid kit, headlamp, GPS / compass, and map of the area, sunscreen (this mineral sunscreen is fragrance free, paraben free, and reef-friendly), bug spray (this Deet-free one contains 20% icaridin and will repel ticks), and bear spray. Carry bear spray in a Bear Spray Holster or Scat Griz Bear Spray Running Belt.
A Garmin inReach Mini 2 satellite communicator is highly recommended for contacting Search & Rescue and emergency contacts in the event of an emergency, or communicating with friends and family when you are out of cell phone range. You can send text messages and your GPS coordinates via satellite, but a monthly service plan is required!
Camping? Our Ultimate Camping Pack List has everything you need for a fun camping trip, and includes tips on what to look for when buying gear.
In snowy/icy conditions, traction devices such as Kahtoola Microspikes (Available from Amazon, MEC, and Valhalla Pure Outfitters), or Hillsound Trail Crampons (Available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Sport Chek) are recommended. See our Fall Hiking Gear Guide for recommended clothing and gear.