The August long weekend is upon us! While August long usually has the best weather, it can also be a time of fire bans, bear warnings and OHV bans. Where then, can we play outside near Calgary this weekend?
Where Can I Camp Without a Reservation?
NORTH OF CALGARY
- For more information see my story Camping and Hiking in David Thompson Country: 15 mostly FCFS campgrounds to choose from. Thompson Creek is closest to the Icefields Parkway. Two O Clock Creek has nice views (but can be very windy). Goldeye Lake and Fish Lake are good for paddling and fishing.
|Abraham Lake, David Thompson Country|
|Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site|
- My friend Amanda from Life in Alberta shares her experience camping and dirt biking at Waiparous Creek Campground here.
- Mockingbird Lookout is a popular hike in the area. See Hiking With Barry’s trip report here.
|Waiparous Creek Campground
Image Credit: Life in Alberta
Please note that all of the following campgrounds have fire bans.
- Hike the Sibbald Flats Trail (1.6 km loop) to the site of a 1984 Sun Dance, or continue further to Deer Ridge (6.6 km loop, 300 m elevation gain).
- Sibbald Lake was not stocked this year, so anglers will have better luck at nearby Sibbald Meadows Pond. 134 FCFS sites.
|Sibbald Lake Campsite|
- Visit Elbow Falls and Forgetmenot Pond, then hike to the top of Sunrise Hill for beautiful views of the Elbow Valley. 85 FCFS sites.
- Warning: There is a bear warning for Bow Valley Provincial Park as of August 2.
- For hikes in the area, check out my story Family Fun in Bow Valley Provincial Park.
|Middle Lake, Bow Valley Provincial Park|
SOUTH OF CALGARY
Sandy McNabb (112 FCFS sites) and Bluerock (66 FCFS sites) are two other popular campgrounds close to south Calgary, but both have bear warnings at the moment.
BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Fire Ban in effect.
|Peyto Lake Upper Lookout|
Jasper National Park has 7 FCFS campgrounds: Snaring – 66 sites, Kerkeslin – 42 sites, Honeymoon Lake – 35 sites, Jonas Creek – 25 sites, Icefield (tents only) – 33 sites, Wilcox – 46 sites, and Icefields Centre (RV & trailers only) – 100 sites. More info here.
Check out my story on Touring the Icefields Parkway with kids for things to do!
|Hike to the Toe of the Glacier!|
What About Random Camping?
Random camping is permitted > 1 kilometre from roads, provincial parks, and provincial recreation areas in Wildland Provincial Parks or Provincial Land Use Zones (PLUZ) only. For example, you may random camp in Castle Wildland Provincial Park but not in Castle Provincial Park. Please note that “Random Backcountry camping is not permitted in some areas of Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park or Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park.”
Picklejar Lakes (5 km one way hike) and Abraham Lake are a couple popular spots for random camping.
|The 2nd Picklejar Lake|
If you plan to random camp, be sure to pitch your tent more than 50 metres from a trails and practice leave no trace.
For more information, please see Alberta Parks – Random Backcountry Camping.
Where Can I Have a Camp Fire?
|Dinosaur Provincial Park|
North of Red Deer, there are currently no fire bans but fire danger remains high, so please keep campfire size small and dispose of cigarettes properly. Consider one of 15 campgrounds in the David Thompson Corridor! Many provide free firewood!
Where Can I Hike?
It’s berry season and the bears are active where berries grow. Be extra bear aware and avoid areas with bear warnings and closures. See my Bear Safety Tips for Hikers and Backpackers for more information.
Some trails to consider include Ptarmigan Cirque, Black Prince Cirque, Cat Creek Falls (note there is construction in the day use so you will have to park across the road), Sunrise Hill (west of Bragg Creek), Ha Ling Peak and/or Miner’s Peak, and Prairie Mountain.
|Near the summit of Miner’s Peak near Canmore|
Noteworthy advisories near Calgary include Quarry Lake and Grassi Lakes in Canmore (bear closure), the Bill Milne Trail and Kananaskis Village trails (bear closure), Bow Valley Provincial Park (bear warning), Paddy’s Flat Campground (bear warning), and Interlakes Campground (bear warning).
Check parks advisories before each hike as conditions change daily!
- Alberta Parks Advisories
- Banff National Park – Important Bulletins
- Jasper National Park – Important Bulletins
- Waterton National Park – Important Bulletins
Where Can I ATV?
Please see Alberta Parks – Activities and scroll down to OHV Use for a list of locations allowing OHVs. North of Calgary – certain provincial recreation areas in Waiparous (north of Cochrane, up Highway 40) and Rocky Mountain House do not have OHV bans at the moment. There are OHV bans south of Calgary.
Check Alberta Parks – OHV bans before heading out.
For More Information
Please see my story Finding a Last Minute Campsite in Alberta.