With lakes, rivers, mountains, grasslands and forests, the Calgary area is surrounded by diverse landscapes that make for varied camping experiences. Paddle across a backcountry lake set amid the mountains, park your RV at a frontcountry campground close to the city, or experience the best of both worlds by pitching your tent at a drive-in campground tucked away by the river’s edge.
Regardless of whether you choose to go backcountry or frontcountry, camp in the summer or winter, or sleep in a tent or RV, the incredible scenery in the Calgary area will inspire you to experience the outdoor adventure opportunities the area has to offer to the fullest.
This guide to camping in Calgary will help you in your quest to find the campground that suits your aspirations in this wild corner of Alberta. Particular attention has been paid to the campgrounds that provide the most value to paddlers, but hikers, mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts in general will enjoy all the camping options on this list.
[This article is part of our Ultimate Calgary Outdoor Adventure Guide. Find all the resources you need to plan an adventurous trip to the Calgary area.]
Campgrounds near Calgary
Both those who are looking for a convenient and budget-friendly place to stay and those who are looking for an amenity-rich natural escape near Calgary will find what they’re looking for among these frontcountry campgrounds.
Bow RiversEdge Campground
An RV campground located just west of Calgary in Cochrane, Bow RiversEdge Campground offers quiet and private camping. Sites provide power, water, sewer and WiFi. Enjoy horseshoes, a playground, biking trails, walking paths and bocce ball on-site. Its close proximity to Cochrane means you’ll have plenty of amenities at your fingertips as well.
Calgary West Campground
Enjoy country camping in the city at Calgary West Campground, located as its name suggests right on the edge of the west side of the city. This is the perfect place to base your stay when exploring all Calgary has to offer, allowing you easy access via the Trans-Canada Hwy and a quiet place to retreat in the evenings. Both RV and tent sites are on offer, with free WiFi, a mini golf course, trails, playground, and outdoor pool on-site.
Mountain View Calgary Camping
An RV campground located just east of Calgary, Mountain View Calgary Camping offers pull-through and back-in sites with power, water and sewer. Showers and laundromat on-site mean you can stay as long as you want to soak up all things Calgary. Enjoy basketball, volleyball, badminton, horseshoes and mini golf in your downtime at the campground.
Nature’s Hideaway Family Campground
Located southeast of Calgary, in a hidden valley along the Highwood River, Nature’s Hideaway Family Campground is the perfect place to pitch a tent or park your RV. They offer non-serviced, water- and power-serviced, and full-serviced sites. On-site amenities include a playground, private sand beach, horseshoe pit, and easy access to the Highwood River for rafting (bring your own).
Okotoks Lions Campground
Keep it simple at Okotoks Lions Campground, located just south of Calgary on the banks of the Sheep River. They offer back-up and drive-thru RV sites (sewer, water and electrical service) and tent sites. There is a playground on-site, access to bike and pedestrian paths, and access to wading in the Sheep River. Call (403) 938-4282 to reserve.
A family campground located just south of Calgary along the Sheep River, Riverbend Campground has all the ingredients for a fun getaway even if you don’t make it into the city. Choose from a diverse range of campsites in each of the different habitats encompasses by the campground: parkland, marshland and river. They offer full hookup, pull-thru and back-in RV sites and non-serviced tent sites. Play mini golf or horseshoes, go paddle boating or hiking, and more.
McLean Creek Campground
Located southwest of Calgary, the campground at McLean Creek Provincial Recreation Area offers tent and RV sites with both serviced and non-serviced options. You’ll have easy access to the many kilometers of trails in the McLean Creek Public Land Use Zone and paddling opportunities on the Elbow River.
Pitch a tent or park your RV beneath aspen and pine at Gooseberry Provincial Recreation Area, located southwest of Calgary. Choose from non-serviced or power-serviced sites. There are also walk-in sites for a little more seclusion. With the Elbow River close at hand, you’ll fall asleep to the sound of flowing water. There are many trails to explore in the nearby West Bragg Creek Provincial Recreation Area and you’ll have access to both Calgary and Rocky Mountain scenery.
Paddy’s Flat Campground
Enjoy private RV and tent sites among the trees at Paddy’s Flat Campground in Elbow River Provincial Recreation Area, located northwest of Calgary. All sites are non-serviced. Access interpretive trails right from the campground, and horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking trails nearby. Just west of the campground you’ll find a launch location for the Elbow River.
Little Elbow Campground
Camp right the edge of the Rockies at Little Elbow Campground in Little Elbow Provincial Recreation Area. Pick from non-serviced tent and RV sites, as well as walk-in tent sites. Fish or paddle the nearby Elbow River, access hiking trails right from the campground and enjoy quiet seclusion in this corner of the world off Hwy 66.
Sibbald Lake Campground
Camp right on the edge of the Rockies at Sibbald Lake Campground, located in Sibbald Lake Provincial Recreational Area west of Calgary. This campground has non-serviced RV and tent sites and features a mountain lake where you can canoe and fish, and access to mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding trails.
Bow Valley Campground
The Bow Valley Campground, located in Bow Valley Provincial Park, has gained a reputation for beauty and wildlife and is a short drive west of Calgary. Nestled within the mountains and alongside the Bow River, this is a great place to pitch a tent or park your RV. Site include non-serviced, power- and water-serviced, and walk-in options. Trails, water and amenities are all close at hand here.
Spring Hill RV Park
Find all the amenities you need on site at Spring Hill RV Park, an RV-only campground located northwest of Calgary. They have a convenience store, gas station, propane and liquor store. They also offer full hook-up available for your RV, access to WiFi, a large playground and a catch-and-release trout pond.
Onespot Crossing Campground
Pitch your tent, park an RV—or stay in one of their on-site teepees for a unique experience at Onespot Crossing Campground overlooking the Elbow River. All sites are non-serviced. Go kayak, fishing and tubing on the Elbow River or hiking and mountain biking in nearby West Bragg Creek Day Use Area.
River Cove Group Campground
You’ll find group camping available at River Cove in Elbow River Provincial Recreation Area. There’s room for 15 RVs and 20 tents here and the property includes a large grass activity field. You’ll have easy access to the Elbow River and many hiking trails.
Willow Rock Campground
Located in Bow Valley Provincial Park west of Calgary, the Willow Rock Campground offers non-serviced and power sites. The Flowing Water trailhead is located right on-site, and many more trails are a short drive away. Awaken to mountain views and fall asleep to the sound of the flowing river.
Fisher Creek Campground
Located southwest of Calgary and within Fisher Creek Provincial Recreation Area, Fisher Creek Campground provides a more rustic frontcountry camping experience in the foothills of Alberta. There are non-serviced drive-in tent campsites and walk-in tent campsites available. Amenities include vault toilets, firepits and water from a pump. Firewood is also available for sale nearby.
Backcountry camping near Calgary
Campers who want to be even more immersed should opt for backcountry camping near Calgary. These secluded campgrounds are inaccessible by vehicle—instead, users will need to hike, paddle or horseback ride to reach them and enjoy their splendour. There are varied amenities located on-site, so be sure to come prepared with all you’ll need for a safe backcountry experience.
Jewell Bay Backcountry Campground
Paddle, hike or horseback ride into the Jewell Bay Backcountry Campground, located in Bow Valley Provincial Park. Park at the Barrier Lake Trail Parking Lot off Hwy 40 and take the 3.9-km trail or paddle west across Barrier Lake to reach the campground. There you’ll find tent pads, hitching rails, corrals, vault toilets, food storage lockers and firewood. Note that this campground is closed annually from April 14 to June 16 for the spring elk movement.
Point Backcountry Campground
Pick from 20 campsites scattered among the trees near the water’s edge at Point Backcountry Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Park at the North Interlakes Day Use Area, accessible from Hwy 40 and hike 3.4-km along the Upper Kananaskis Lake Circuit or paddle along the northern shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake to reach the campground. There you’ll find firepits, vault toilets and food storage lockers.
There are six backcountry campsites located on the shores of Lake Minnewanka in Banff that can be reached by trail or lake. Either way, park at the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area. Be aware that motorboats have use of this lake and winds can be strong.
Quaite Valley Backcountry Campground
Hike into the Quaite Valley Backcountry Campground in Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park. Park at the Heart Creek Day Use Area and hike 4.5 km along the Quaite Valley Trail to the campground where you’ll find 20 tent sites, group firepits, vault toilets and food storage lockers. Firewood is provided.
Aster Lake Backcountry Campground
Be prepared to hike a bit farther to reach Aster Lake Backcountry Campground, located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. It’s a 10.8-km hike via the Upper Kananaskis Lake Circuit/Aster Lake Route Trail from the trailhead at the Upper Lake Day Use Area off Hwy 40. The trail is unmaintained, so only experienced hikers should attempt to reach the campground. No fires are permitted, but there are vault toilets and food storage lockers available.
Forks Backcountry Campground
You’ll find 15 tent sites waiting for you at Forks Backcountry Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Hike 7.3 km along the Upper Kananaskis Lake Circuit/Three Isle Lake Trail from the trailhead at North Interlakes Day Use Area. There are group firepits, vault toilets and food storage lockers available.
Lillian Lake Backcountry Camping
Experience the beauty of Spray Valley Provincial Park by camping at Lillian Lake Backcountry Campground, accessible via a 6.3-km trek along the Galatea Creek Trail. Park at the trailhead at the Galatea Day Use Area. Amenities at the campground include group firepits, vault toilets, food storage lockers and raised tent platforms.
Mount Romulus Backcountry Campground
Give yourself a challenge by setting your sights on Mount Romulus Backcountry Campground, located in Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park. The primary route for reaching the campground is an 11.9-km hike along the Little Elbow Trail from the Little Elbow Trailhead. You’ll experience 175 m of elevation gain along this trail. At the campground, you’ll find tent pads, firepits, hitching rails, vault toilets and food storage lockers. Firewood is provided.
Ribbon Falls Backcountry Campground
Camp in close proximity to the beautiful Ribbon Falls at the aptly named Ribbon Falls Backcountry Campground. Located in Spray Valley Provincial Park, you’ll need to hike 8.7 km from the Ribbon Creek Day Use Area in adjacent Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area. You’ll find tent sites, a group firepit and food storage lockers.
Turbine Canyon Backcountry Campground
It’s a 15.1-km hike with 525 m of elevation gain along the Upper Kananaskis Lake Circuit, Three Isle Lake and Maude-Lawson trails to reach the Turbine Canyon Backcountry Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. However, the trek is well-worth it for the alpine meadows, mountain views and trickling streams you’ll encounter. At the campground, you’ll find tent sites, vault toilets and food storage lockers. No fires are permitted.
Free camping near Calgary
Public land—a type of crown land—can be found all over the province and is available for Alberta residents to camp on free of charge. The two types of public land available for camping are Agriculture Public Land that is under a Grazing License and Public Land Use Zones.
However, it is essential that you follow proper backcountry camping etiquette when random camping—as camping outside of designated campgrounds on crown land is often called—to ensure these natural spaces remain pristine and in the kind of condition that will allow random camping to continue for years to come. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the regulations about where you can camp within these areas, whether fires are allowed, where motorized vehicles are allowed, and more.
Use the Alberta Recreational Access Internet Mapping Tool to plan your trip and read the Alberta government’s guide on Camping on Crown Lands. You can read the Alberta government’s overview on camping on public land here.
Year-round camping near Calgary
Year-round campsites are available for campers who don’t mind the cold Winters of Calgary and the province of Alberta. Many of the sites booked through Alberta Parks are year-round, but with some restrictions in place. Symons Valley and Dinosaur Park have known to offer both Fall and Winter camping options, suitable for tens and RVs. For those who don’t mind driving out a bit further, the Valley’s Edge Resort near Radium is incredibly scenic and offers incredible Fall colours.
Many campgrounds and backcountry camping areas are open year-round. See above for information on the following year-round camping opportunities:
- Fish Creek Campground
- McLean Creek Campground
- Spring Hill RV Park
- Riverbend Campground
- Mountain View Calgary Camping
- Onespot Crossing Campground
- River Cove Group Campground
- Point Backcountry Campground
- Quaite Valley Backcountry Campground
Camping supplies Calgary
Buy camping gear
Need to pick up a few camping supplies in Calgary? The city is well-equipped with camping stores with stock to help any camper, paddler or adventure traveler make the most of their visit to the area.
Find all the paddling gear you could want (and more) at Aquabatics‘ Calgary location. From kayaks, canoes, rafts and SUPs, to drybags, wetsuits and rashguards, to splitboards, snowshoes, roof racks and hitches, they have a range of products. Not to mention their knowledgeable staff, who can help you with trip planning and gear selection.
Address: 8435 Bowfort Road NW, Calgary
Phone: (403) 288-9283
Grab any camping essential you could possibly dream of at MEC Calgary. Known for their incredible selection of products, find what you need and connect with knowledgeable staff to make the best purchase possible.
Address: 830 10th Ave SW, Calgary
Phone: (403) 269-2420
Delightfully family-owned, Camper’s Village boasts a wide selection of camping and outdoor gear. Carrying brands like Mountain Hardwear, Yeti, Patagonia and Osprey, you’ll find high-quality gear for all your outdoor needs, including camping, hiking, paddling, climbing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Address: 7208 Macleod Trail SE, Calgary
With four stores in Calgary, Atmosphere is a convenient place to pick up your last-minute outdoor gear. You’ll find camping, hiking, paddling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing gear in addition to ample men’s and women’s apparel.
Downtown Calgary: 817 10th Ave SW, Calgary | (403) 264-2444
Market Mall: #G008B 3625 Shaganppi Trail NW, Calgary |(403) 247-1051
Deerfoot Meadows: Unit 500 8180 11th Street SE, Calgary | (403) 355-6628
Signal Hill: 5967 Signal Hill Centre, Calgary | (403) 217-4197
Find all manner of camping gear and apparel available at Spirit West. They carry a number of brands, but also sell their own products. They even do custom order to ensure you get the best fit possible.
Address: #2 640 42nd Ave NE, Calgary
Phone: (403) 993-1381
Camping gear rentals in Calgary
Whether you aren’t quite ready to purchase your own gear yet or you don’t have room in your luggage to bring all that’s required, there are camping gear rental options available at multiple establishments in Calgary.
Head to Aquabatics for kayak and SUP rentals to make your backcountry camping adventures come true. They also rent other gear and accessories to ensure you have everything you need for your trip.
Address: 8435 Bowfort Road NW, Calgary
Phone: (403) 288-9283
University of Calgary Outdoor Centre
One well-kept secret is that the University of Calgary rents gear through its Outdoor Centre. They offer a variety of items including hiking boots, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, backpacking packs, to name just a few. Their prices are quite affordable and you don’t have to be a student to take advantage.
Address: 2500 University Dr NW, Calgary
Phone: (403) 220-5038
Rent SUPs, kayaks, canoes, car racks, tents, backpacks, sleeping mats, coolers and more at Sports Rent. If there’s an outdoor activity you want to try, you’d be hard-pressed to not find the equipment for it here.
Address: 4424 16th Ave NW, Calgary
Phone: (403) 292-0077
Rent climbing, watersports, snowsports, hiking and camping gear as well as maps and books from Spirit West. Camping gear rentals include sleeping bags, tarps, mess kits, stoves, drybags and more.
Address: #2 640 42nd Ave NE, Calgary
Phone: (403) 993-1381
Norseman Outdoor Specialist
A cross-country skiing, hiking and climbing outdoors store, Norseman Outdoor Specialist rents tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, cooking systems and backpacking packs. They also offer a backpacking package, providing you with all the major pieces of gear you’ll need for a trip into the backcountry.
Address: 4655 37th Street SW, Calgary
Phone: (403) 249-5451