Spring Camping in Alberta and BC

By Samantha Lemna | March 28, 2019

While the official opening of camping season is traditionally the May long weekend many of us are itching to get back to camping and can’t wait that long. Spring camping is awesome but can also be tough with unpredictable weather a lack of services and no reservations or closed campgrounds. This article will discuss how to deal with these obstacles as well as offer recommendations on the best places to camp in spring.

How to Deal with Unpredictable Weather

Be prepared. The difference between the day and nighttime temperatures can be extreme. For example in May 2018 the day temperature was t-shirt weather in the southern BC interior but it dropped below zero at night. You should also be prepared for rain and snow as well as prolonged cold and warmer weather.

That means you’ll need to bring a lot of gear. In addition to the appropriate clothing don’t forget extra tarps sand or kitty litter tire chains and a shovel. It’s a good idea to bring extra food and water blankets and indoor activities in case the weather turns nasty. Extra fuel is also an necessity.

Don’t forget to check the weather and driving conditions before you leave. If the roads are treacherous or a storm is expected it’s better to stay home.

Limited or No Services

Most campgrounds do not have services before the May long weekend. This includes potable water sani-dumps toilets and often staff. Be sure to bring more water than you need and carry the necessary emergency equipment such as a first aid kit and a charged cellphone or satellite phone.

You may also not be able to have a fire. A propane fire pit is a good alternative if you still want the campfire feel although remember that these cannot be used inside your RV.

No Reservations and Closures

Most campgrounds are first-come-first-served during the off-season and are free to stay at. You shouldn’t have to worry about the campground filling up but if the weather is particularly nice or the campground is very popular you may want to head out earlier to get a spot.

Be sure to check if your destination is open to campers before you go. Some campgrounds close for the winter and may re-open depending on conditions. Others are open year-round and you simply need to self-register on arrival.

Where to Camp

Alberta is often quite cold until June (or even later) especially in the mountains. However the SE corner of the province is often drier and warmer and is a great option for spring camping.

Here are some Alberta Parks to check out:

  • Writing on Stone Provincial Park

  • Cypress Hills Provincial Park

  • Dinosaur Provincial Park

  • Kinbrook Island Provincial Park

You can find more parks here .

The southern interior of BC is another great option for spring camping as is Vancouver Island. Road conditions can be dangerous so be sure to pay attention to the weather especially if you’re driving from Alberta.

Here are some BC Parks to consider:

  • Premier Lake Provincial Park

  • Kikomun Creek Provincial Park

  • Mount Fernie Provincial Park

  • French Beach Provincial Park

Here is a full list of BC parks .

The national parks also offer year-round camping at certain campgrounds. You may need to reserve although some also operate as first-come-first-serve.

Private campgrounds may also be open (and may even be serviced during the winter) although they will charge a fee.

As long as you’re prepared spring camping can be a great time no matter where you go. Enjoy your adventures and hopefully the weather will be good!