A yurt at Pigeon Lake (Photo: AV Wakefield/Travel Alberta)

An Alberta camper’s dream?

By Jeff Cummings

Winter is still in the air but that hasn’t stopped campers from daydreaming about their favourite Alberta destinations to visit in the spring, summer and fall. We would know. AMA asked hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts at past RV events in Edmonton to share their top Alberta campsites.

From parks in the mountains to beachside getaways, there’s something for every outdoor lover. Here are some of the best suggestions.

Mountain Parks

WAPITI CAMPGROUND

On the shore of the Athabasca River, Wapiti is the second-largest campsite in Jasper National Park. Located six kilometres south of Jasper on Highway 93, Wapiti can accommodate most motorhomes and trailers. Additionally, campers say it’s a perfect location with access to firewood for those dreamy nights around the fire.

SNARING CAMPGROUND

The first-come, first-served campground, next to the Snaring River, is about 17 km north of Jasper, just off Highway 16. It’s ideal for tents, motorhomes and trailers under eight metres. Campers love booking scenic sites along this beautiful waterway, which doubles as a show-stopping spot for stargazers.

TUNNEL MOUNTAIN VILLAGE I AND II

No matter where you camp, you’ll be surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Located 10 minutes from the town of Banff, Village I is the larger of the two campgrounds. Meanwhile, Village II is open year-round. Both villages are near scenic walking trails, the Bow River, and Hoodoos Viewpoint.

RAMPART CREEK CAMPGROUND

Want something more remote in the Alberta Rockies? Try this small campground, about 30 minutes south of the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, on Highway 93. The spot is a great location to go chasing waterfalls, as it’s near the Weeping Wall and Polar Circus waterfalls.

KANANASKIS COUNTRY

There are so many square kilometres to explore in K-Country, which is why outdoor adventurers love it. You can choose from more than 10 campgrounds across Kananaskis, including Bow Valley Provincial Park and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. All these campgrounds offer breathtaking mountain scenery. Don’t forget to purchase your Kananaskis Conservation Pass before visiting.

WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK

This is where the prairies collide with Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. And it’s that dramatic mix of geography that creates so many opportunities to see diverse wildlife and flowers. There are five campsites in and outside the national park, including the Waterton Townsite Campground, located on the shores of Waterton Lake.

Planning to visit a national park? Get your Parks Canada Discovery Passes at your nearby AMA centre. Members save $10 on family passes. You can also save $4 on annual adult passes or $2 on senior yearly passes.

Near Edmonton

WABAMUN LAKE CAMPGROUND

Located on the northeast tip of the lake, this campground (and provincial park) features trails, a beachfront, and great spots for birding and fishing. Campers say it’s a great location for families because children can spend hours at the Moonlight Bay beach and nearby playgrounds. It’s less than an hour west of Edmonton on Highway 16.

PEMBINA RIVER CAMPGROUND

Head another 30 minutes west of Wabamun to soak in the sun and waters of the Pembina River, popular with families for its relaxing tube-floats. Campers love the Pembina River Campground (and provincial park) as it’s complete with playgrounds and trails located between Entwistle and Evansburg.

PIGEON LAKE CAMPGROUND

Weekend adventurers enjoy this campground’s secluded sites, its range of activities on and off the water, and its proximity to Edmonton and Red Deer. If you don’t feel like tenting or RVing, you can try glamping—or comfort camping—in one of the campground’s yurts.

ELK ISLAND NATIONAL PARK

Stargazers love this national park since it’s part of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve—an excellent location to watch the dancing lights of aurora borealis in the night sky. Plus, it’s only 40 minutes east of Edmonton. Elk Island National Park offers a range of camping options. Hike to the new Oster Lake Backcountry Campground or host a family reunion at the Astotin Lake Group Camping Area.

Central Parks

WILDERNESS VILLAGE CAMPGROUND RESORT

This campground is a member-owned, year-round RV resort near Crimson Lake Provincial Park, Pine Hills Golf Club and Rocky Mountain House. It’s a favourite among campers, and there’s a reason for that: it’s packed with amenities. Wilderness Village features two pools, three hot tubs, laundry, basketball courts, playground, guided horseback rides, and hiking and biking trails. It’s also open to non-members.

RAM FALLS CAMPGROUND

One of Alberta’s more remote campgrounds (and provincial parks), Ram Falls requires a 65-km drive along a forestry trunk road from Nordegg. The trek is worth it—not only will you get to see Ram Falls, but you might also see some bighorn sheep. Alberta Parks warns it “can be rough, steep, and winding in places. It is best to bring a map of the area as signage and cellphone reception are limited.”

ASPEN BEACH PROVINCIAL PARK

Aspen Beach is one of Alberta’s oldest provincial parks, located 15 minutes west of Lacombe, off Highway 12. Choose from the park’s two campgrounds, Lakeview or Brewers, on the southern tip of Gull Lake. Hang out on Ebeling Beach, go canoeing on the lake, and try your hand at fishing. Families can enjoy sandy beaches and a playground.

AMA members can receive a one-year AMA Plus RV membership and membership in the Go RV Adventure Club—free firewood, propane, and RV supplies for life when purchasing a new or used RV. Members also get a 15% discount on regular priced RV parts and service at all Go RV locations.

Northern Parks

MARTEN RIVER CAMPGROUND

Campers say Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park—three hours north of Edmonton—has some of the best beaches in Alberta. For one thing, it’s quiet and full of natural sand. There’s also an amphitheatre, fish-cleaning stations, showers, walking/biking trails, and of course, a beach. Sail to nearby Dog Island, hike up to the Marten Mountain, or take the Trans Canada Trail to the Boreal Centre for bird conservation.

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL CAMPGROUND

Lake trout, northern pike, perch, and burbot—oh, my! There are so many opportunities here for anglers. This campground is a must-visit located on Alberta’s only island provincial park. Surrounded by Lac La Biche—the lake, not the hamlet—Sir Winston Churchill features comfort camping in cabins and tipis, kayak/canoe/paddleboard rentals, a store, a 300-year-old boreal forest, and one-of-a-kind birdwatching. For instance, Pelicans use nearby islands as one of their annual breeding sites.

CARSON-PEGASUS CAMPGROUND

Love fishing but don’t own a boat? Not a problem since Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park has park benches along the walkway on the shores of McLeod Lake. Birding is also popular at this campground about two-and-a-half hours northwest of Edmonton.

COLD LAKE CAMPGROUND

Lund’s Point is home to this campground in Cold Lake Provincial Park, situated on the south end of one of Alberta’s most profound bodies of water. There are so many opportunities for fishing, birding, swimming, boating, and nine kilometres of hiking/biking trails. A store, theatre, and group camping area are some of the amenities. In conclusion, campers love this spot for the slew of options.

Happy Campers

Do you have a go-to destination for camping in Alberta, particularly in the southern and east-central regions of the province? Share your favourite locations by emailing HappyCampers@ama.ab.ca.

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