Guide to Camping in Northern Alberta
Northern Alberta is generally considered to be anything north of Edmonton. It’s a beautiful area with a wide range of campgrounds, hiking trails, activities, and wildlife. Whether you want to rough it or glamp, there’s something for everyone in this area of Alberta. RV Direct Insurance has the information you need in this all-in-one guide for camping in Northern Alberta.
Purchased an RV in Alberta? Great! Now it’s time to figure out where to go first.
When it comes to camping, there are a few things you’ll need to get down pat before you hit the road. Campgrounds, what to pack, and planning an itinerary should be at the top of your list. We’ll go over each item individually in this guide.
Where to Camp in Northern Alberta
There are over 60 front-country campgrounds in Northern Alberta’s provincial parks, plus one front-country campground in Wood Buffalo National Park, the only federally operated park in this region. There are also a number of municipal campgrounds and private campgrounds. This gives you a ton of choices on where to camp!
Not all campgrounds are equal, so make sure you know what amenities you want and check to see if they’re available before booking. Most campsites offer the basics: a picnic table, fire pit, and pit toilets. If you’re looking for lake access, showers, or more luxury amenities and activities, you’ll need to check if they’re available.
Campgrounds are often seasonal in Northern Alberta, opening usually over the May long weekend and closing after the September long weekend. Some open earlier and close later; it may also be dependent on the weather conditions. There are a few year-round campgrounds, but keep in mind these may not have usual amenities like potable water.
Keep in mind that one campsite accommodates only one RV. You can usually have a tent but it will depend on the size of the site and your RV. If you’re traveling with friends or family, you may need to get multiple campsites or use a group campsite.
You can reserve campsites ahead of time if you’re planning to camp in most provincial parks or national parks. Many private campgrounds also take reservations. You can do this online or by phone. We recommend getting a reservation where possible as campgrounds can fill up, especially during July and August when kids are off school. There are also many first-come, first-serve campsites available, usually with self-registration at the campground.
Finally, you can also camp on Crownland, but make sure you understand the rules. There are also no amenities with Crownland so we only recommend that experienced campers choose this option.
8 of the Best Campgrounds in Northern Alberta
Here are eight of the best campgrounds in Northern Alberta:
- Two Lakes Provincial Park – This is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a more remote but beautiful campground. Two Lakes is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and has three campground options with 86 total campsites. There are fire pits, picnic tables, potable water, and vault toilets. Self-register at the campground and enjoy hiking, fishing, and water activities.
- Queen Elizabeth Provincial Park￼ – This first-come, first-served campground offers 14 unserviced and 42 power campsites with fire pits, picnic tables, potable water, washrooms, and a sewage dumping station. There are also trails, a boat launch, and a playground.
- Sulphur GatesSulphur Gates – Located outside of Grand Cache, this campground is located in a truly beautiful area. There is a lot of great hiking in this area and this campground is set up for equestrians. The campsites are smaller, so we recommend choosing another campground if you have a large RV. You’ll also need to bring your own drinking water. There are 15 unserviced campsites (first-come, first-serve).
- KleskunKleskun Hill, Alberta’s northernmost badlands. Kleskun Hillunserviced campsites – Located near the Grand Prairie region, this campground is settled in the midst of Alberta’s northernmost badlands. In addition to the beautiful nature, there are historical buildings to explore. There are nine unserviced campsites and showers, drinking water, firewood and a playground available.
- Dunvegan Provincial Park – Settled on the banks of the Peace River, this campground has 65 powered campsites with river canoeing, fishing, and hiking opportunities. There is also a historic site to explore.
- Notikewin Provincial Park – Enjoy a quiet, forested campground along the river here. Canoe or kayak, fish, watch for birds and other wildlife, hike or bike in this area. There are 19 unserviced first-come, first-served campsites. There is firewood provided but no potable water. There are pit toilets and fire pits.
- Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park – This beautiful campground features year-round camping with comfort cabins and 72-powered campsites. Enjoy the sandy beaches, rent a canoe, kayak, or standup paddleboard, hike, bike, or take in an interpretive program. There is a playground, sewage disposal, concession, showers, flush toilets, potable water, and firewood available for sale.
- Winagami Lake Provincial Park – There are 17 unserviced and 49 powered treed sites in this campground. There are showers, flush toilets, sewage disposal, and a playground as well. You can enjoy boating, birding, fishing, and the hiking trails in the park.
What to Pack for Camping in Northern Alberta
What you pack may make or break your next camping trip. Read on for a basic list of what to bring on your next camping trip in Northern Alberta.
Food & Cooking Supplies
- A camp stove with fuel (your RV might have one in the kitchen, just make sure you bring propane)
- Pot(s) with lid
- Mixing bowl
- Utensils (forks, knives, spoons)
- Cutting knives
- Cutting board
- Tin foil
- Coffee maker (french press or instant coffee are great options while camping so you don’t have to lug anything big around)
- Basic cooking items like oil and spices
We always recommend reusable dishes and utensils to help reduce waste and expenses.
- What about food? You should choose food that’s easier to prepare as you’ll be cooking over a fire or with a camp stove. You’ll also need to consider food safety (we have an article on food safety while camping) especially if you won’t have a working fridge. You can even opt for meal prep if you have the chance. It’s also a good idea to keep lots of snacks on hand.
You’ll likely need to wash dishes and maybe even do some cleaning in the RV if you’re camping for long enough, so it’s good idea to have the basic cleaning supplies:
- Paper towel
- All-purpose cleaner/disinfectant
- Dish towels
- Dish soap
- Scrub brush
- Rubber gloves
- Bin for dishwater
- Toilet brush
- Toilet cleaner
- Glass cleaner
Biodegradable cleaners are best, especially if you’re washing dishes outside or emptying the water outside.
Be prepared in case an emergency occurs. An emergency kit should be a priority on your packing list. It should include:
- First aid supplies: antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment, bandages, gauze, medical tape, blister pads, pain-relief medication, anti-itch medication, antihistamine, tweezers, safety pins, cold medication, diarrhea medication, antiacid medication, scissors, thermometer, surgical gloves, and any other relevant materials.
- A few days worth of non-perishable food
- Drinking water
- Hand sanitizer
- Headlamp or lantern
- Radio (preferably hand-cranked)
- Change of warm clothing
- Emergency shelter
- Blankets/sleeping bags
- Back up battery/chargers
- GPS locator
- Paper maps
Don’t forget about any pets and what they might need in an emergency. Remember that Northern Alberta can be very remote and help may not be close.
Clothes and Shoes
Northern Alberta’s weather can be unpredictable. It can get hot during the day but cool at night. Pack accordingly for the weather and bring extras just in case. Bring warm underclothes, extra pairs of underwear and socks, multiple pairs of shoes, and coats/jackets.
Even if you’re planning to sleep in your RV, it’s not a bad idea to bring along some sleeping bags and extra blankets just in case it gets cold overnight. If you’re planning on tenting, make sure you practice setting it up beforehand.
We recommend purchasing wood in Alberta if you plan to have a campfire. Some campgrounds offer firewood for free or for a charge. Remember to bring fire starters!
Be mindful of any fire restrictions or bans and make sure to properly extinguish your fire.
Don’t forget to bring along some camping activities! A good book, some board or card games, and your outdoor toys such as bikes and kayaks. You’ll also want to bring some comfy camp chairs.
Activities while Camping in Northern Alberta
There are a ton of things to do in Northern Alberta – and it’s also a huge region. What’s available will depend on where you’re staying and the weather conditions. Here are some suggestions:
- Find a great hike using All Trails
- Check out local bike rides with Trailforks
- Check out nearby provincial parks as they often have trails and activities.
- Find local historic sites – there are quite a few important Indigenous and fur trade sites in Northern Alberta.
- Visit a lake – the water may be cold but it’s still great for a refreshing swim, kayak or canoe paddle, or even fishing.
- Go horseback riding in the beautiful scenery.
- Try outdoor rock climbing if you’re feeling adventurous.
- Watch for wildlife including deer, moose, bears, and even elusive wolves and mountain lions. There are also many species of birds to keep an eye out for!
- Explore a ghost town.
- Many small towns have little stores and art galleries.
- Attend a rodeo or festival.
- Try geocaching.
- Take in the beautiful night sky.
If you’re staying in a provincial or national park, they will have details on activities available in the park as well, including hikes, water activities, bike rides, playgrounds, interpretive activities, and more. Private campgrounds also sometimes offer events.
If you’re traveling during the colder months, keep an eye out for the northern lights. You could also try activities like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, downhill skiing or snowboarding, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, tobogganing, and fat tire biking.
For adults, it’s a lot easier to be spontaneous. For children? Not so much. Camping in Northern Alberta is a great way to spend time with your family, but it can quickly go sour if you haven’t planned out enough to do with your young ones to keep them occupied. While you’re planning for various hikes or water activities, be sure to leave plenty of room for rest. No one wants overtired children – or overtired adults! Leave some room for flexibility but try to have a few activities on the list for each day. If you’re traveling from campground to campground, do your research for each campground and consider signing up in advance for any of the activities that they offer.
Budgeting a Camping Trip in Northern Alberta
How much is a camping trip in Northern Alberta going to cost? Assuming you’ve already got an RV, here are some costs to consider:
- Campsite (free to $100 per night, depending on location and amenities)
- Fuel (gas/diesel and propane)
- Food ($50/person/week and food costs can be higher the further north you go)
- RV insurance (if you’re not insured already)
You can camp in Northern Alberta for next to nothing (other than the cost of fuel to get there) or it can be a very expensive trip. It all depends on your budget and vacation style.
RV Direct Insurance wants you to have the best time possible when camping because we fully understand how great it is to enjoy the outdoors with your family.