How to Book Campsites in Alberta
Camping is an affordable and fantastic way to spend time with friends and family. Many Albertans take advantage of the province’s great outdoors and camping is a very popular activity! Unfortunately, this means it can be difficult to get a campsite. In this article, we’ll give you some general tips as well as walk you through how to book campsites in Alberta in provincial parks, national parks, private campgrounds, and on public land.
General Booking Tips for Campsites in Alberta
Here are our general tips for booking campsites in Alberta:
- Check the campgrounds rules before booking
- Check the campground services and activities ahead of time
- Book ahead – the day registration opens for long weekends or popular campgrounds
- Smaller RVs (or tents) are easier to get campsites for
- Make sure you know the length of your rig (to ensure it will fit on the campsite you book)
- Opt for campsites or campgrounds without services (campsites with full services will be more limited and more expensive)
- Consider travelling further afield, especially during July and August
- Be flexible on the dates if possible (Fridays and Saturdays are the most booked)
- Check back for cancellations if you can’t get a site
- If you can’t get a site, you can try first-come, first-served campsites
If you want to try a first-come, first-served campsite, you can sometimes call ahead to see if any are left. Some people go out early in the week, set up a tent, and come back later with their RV.
How to Book Campsites in Alberta Provincial Campgrounds
Booking a campsite in Alberta’s provincial campgrounds is easy. You can reserve online or call 1-877-537-2757. Online and phone access to campsites is equal.
To reserve online, you’ll need to create an account. You’ll need to provide:
- Your first and last name
- Postal code
- Phone number
You should provide accurate information.
Once you’ve got your account created, you can use the online booking tool to find campsites. You can sort by services, site type, camping unit size, campground and campsite amenities, and more. Some campgrounds will also have photos of each site. If you’re not sure where you want to go, you can also use the Alberta Parks website to do your research.
Tip: If you’re trying to reserve on opening day, make sure you login beforehand to save time.
Once you’ve found an available campsite you want to book, you can add it to your cart. You can add up to four separate reservations per transaction.
Next, you’ll need to pay by credit card. You may also be asked to provide information about your party, camping unit, and vehicle.
If you cannot make your camping date, you either need to change the reservation date for a $5 fee (if available) or cancel. If you cancel at least 72 hours before your arrival date, you will receive a full refund of your camping fees (your reservation fee is not refunded). Reservations are not transferrable.
Things to Keep in Mind When Booking a Campsite in Alberta Provincial Parks
- Fees range from $8 to $29 per campsite per night
- Additional fees up to $8 are charged for amenities like pressurized water hook-ups, electrical hook-ups, sewer hook-ups, and showers
- The reservation fee is $12 and is non-refundable
- You can book campsites up to 180 days in advance
- There is a 16 night booking limit per campsite (less for group sites)
- You can reserve some group camping sites online, others are phone-in only
- If you’re holding an event at a group site (a reunion, wedding or similar event), you need to apply for a permit
- There is a maximum of SIX people allowed per campsite (unless they’re all members of the same household/family unit)
- The maximum number of vehicles, tents, and RVs permitted on a campsite is three, of which only two can be used as sleeping quarters (unless you have two tents, then two cars are permitted)
- Firewood and sewage disposal is available at some parks but may cost extra
- Many campgrounds also offer first-come, first-served sites
- You can view, change and cancel campsites online or by phone
- Sites go quickly at popular campgrounds, so book early and check back for cancellations
How to Book National Park Campsites in Alberta
Alberta has four national parks:
- Waterton Lakes National Park
- Banff National Park
- Jasper National Park
- Wood Buffalo National Park
Each national park has several camping options, most of which offer both reservable and first-come, first-served campsites. Getting a campsite in Banff and Jasper can be very difficult – we recommend trying to reserve on the opening day of registration. If you can’t get a spot, check frequently for cancellations or attempt to get a first-come, first-served campsite. Waterton Lakes and Wood Buffalo have fewer campgrounds and campsites are much more basic.
Tip: You’ll need to purchase a Parks Canada pass or day tickets for the length of your stay when you visit a national park in Alberta.
You can book campsites in Alberta’s national parks by reserving online or calling 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783). The phone line is only available 8:00am to 6:00pm Mountain Time. If you’re calling, you should know the dates of your stay, length of your RV, and the campground you’d like to say – as well as some backup options. Keep in mind that the reservation fee is $13.50 when booking by phone.
It’s much easier to make a reservation online and your reservation fee is only $11.50. You can filter by your camping dates, amenities, location and more. The map will show green if there are available reservable campsites and yellow for first-come, first-served sites (red is for reserved or closed sites). Select your spot and add it to your cart.
Regardless of the way you book, you’ll pay by credit card and need to provide your contact information and vehicle information. A booking number will be provided at the end of each completed reservation.
Reservations can’t be resold but you can make changes for a non-refundable fee ($11.50 if you make the change online or $13.50 if it is made by phone). Depending on the change you may be charged the difference in price as well as a penalty.
If you cancel, you will be charged a fee ($11.50 if cancelled online, $13.50 if cancelled by phone). You will not receive your reservation fee back but you will be refunded your camping fee. The exception is if you cancel less than 72 hours before your arrival date.
Things to Keep in Mind When Booking National Park Campsites in Alberta
- Try to get a spot when reservations open early every year (normally January)
- The reservation fee is non-refundable
- Check the rules of the campground before you book
- Fire permits are an extra $8.80/day (but firewood is usually included)
- Camping fees start at $16.05 per night but vary by campground and campsite
- You must have a valid Parks Canada entry pass for the dates you are camping in the national park
- You can view, change and cancel campsites online or by phone
- Try visiting mid-week or during shoulder season if you’re struggling to get a campsite
- Check regularly for cancellations
How to Book Campsites in Alberta’s Private Campgrounds
There are many private campgrounds in Alberta. They vary but often offer additional amenities and activities. These campgrounds can be very popular and individual campsites can be difficult to reserve.
Generally, you’ll find that you can book a campsite in a private campground by:
- Booking online
You can also simply show up and ask if they have sites available; however, we advise calling ahead so you’re not without a place to stay for the night.
You can find campgrounds in Alberta on this website.
Tips for Booking Private Campsites in Alberta’s Private Campground
- Every campground has different rules – make sure you read them!
- Make sure your RV will fit on the site you’re booking
- Try to look at pictures of the campground and campsite before you book
- Ask about campfires, showers, or other essential amenities you want if they’re not listed on the website
- Check cancellation or change rules – some campgrounds don’t offer refunds
Also known as crownland camping or boondocking, random camping is on public land (known as crownland). It is not allowed to random camp in provincial parks or private property!
The beauty of random camping is that you don’t need to book a campsite. You ‘book’ a spot by showing up and parking. Plus, it’s free!
However, there are no services, it can be difficult to access sites, and random camping comes with added responsibilities.
Tips for Random Camping in Alberta
- Check for fire bans or any restrictions before you go
- Check the rules if you’re planning to visit a Public Land Use Zone
- If the land is leased, you will have to get permission to camp
- Stays are limited to 14 days in one location
- Leave no trace – pack out what you bring, including garbage
- Don’t feed or disturb wildlife (avoid trails, berry bushes, clover patches)
- Camp at least 30m away from a body of water and 100m away from oil and gas well sites or facilities
- Don’t block any roads or access points
- Camp on surfaces that are resistant to impact and minimize damage to vegetation
- Don’t dispose of dishwater into bodies of water (soap may harm aquatic life)
- Be responsible with your fires – follow fire restrictions, use a portable receptacle, never leave it unattended, and soak, stir, soak when you put it out
- If there is no outhouse or bathroom in your RV, dig 12-16 centimeter hole at least 70 meters from water sources and away from trails and campsites; fill the hole with soil (do not pack it down) when you leave and pack out any paper products
- If someone is already in the area you want to camp, give them lots of space
- Remember – there are no services! This can include phone service. Make sure you’re prepared for emergencies.
- Getting into a spot in crown land can also be difficult and include rough driving.
- Keep in mind that weather and conditions can change rapidly – be prepared
If you’re new to camping, we recommend staying in an official campground for a while before you venture into random camping. You should be very comfortable with your RV and have some camping experience.
We hope these tips help you find and book a campsite in Alberta for your next adventure!