A Complete Guide to Camping in Kananaskis
Camping in Kananaskis is one of the great pleasures of summer in Alberta. Camping is a great way to enjoy a nature fix and step back from the hectic pace of normal life. It allows families and friends to reconnect and make new memories. Many campsite locations in Kananaskis offer easy access to some of the best hiking in Kananaskis, along with opportunities for biking, birding, paddling and even swimming.
The term Kananaskis can be a bit confusing. Kananaskis Country refers to a huge swath of land on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, west of Calgary that is made up of numerous provincial parks including Bow Valley, Peter Lougheed, and Spray Valley Provincial Parks along with the Kananaskis Valley along Highway 40, the Sibbald Area, the Elbow River Valley, Sheep River Valley, Highwood River, and Cataract Creek, and finally the Ghost Area. Most of the campsites in Kananaskis need to be booked through Alberta Parks though there are a few private campgrounds noted as well.
Camping in Kananaskis is a fun summertime activity – and a popular one so be prepared to book the moment reservations open. Avoid weekends if possible and be flexible with your dates. Not all campsites can be reserved. Some are first come, first served.
Below is a guide to frontcountry campgrounds in Kananaskis. This post does not cover group or equestrian campgrounds.
Costs for camping in Kananaskis
If you want to go camping in Kananaskis and be sure of a campsite, then you will have to choose one of the campsites that is reservable. There is a $12 reservation fee, whether you call in or reserve online. The price per campsite varies depending on location and whether there is power and water. Opening times of Kananaskis campsites also vary from year to year and sometimes campgrounds openings are delayed because of snowpack.
To make a reservation with Alberta Parks visit their website, appreciating that you can book within a 90-day window or call 1-877-537-2757. There are a surprising number of first come, first served campgrounds in Kananaskis Country (noted in red) – which is good news for people who like to go camping at the last minute.
Camping in Kananaskis location map
Bow Valley Provincial Park Frontcountry Camping
Bow Valley Campground
Location: Approximately 30 kilometres east of Canmore.
Open: April 29 – October 10, 2022 – 100% reservable
Cost: $31/night unserviced; $47/night with power and water; $31/night for walk in tent campsites
Facilities: 36 unserviced sites, 131 serviced and 6 walk-in tent sites. There is a playground, showers, and concession along with interpretive programing. There are many easy hiking trails, and the park is popular for biking, especially with families.
Pluses/Minuses: Many campsites are along the Bow River, so they are quite pretty and private, wooded and private. Beware of both train and highway noise at this campground.
Read: Bow Valley Provincial Park – A Year Round Destination
Bow River Campground
Location: Located about 5 km east of Canmore by the Bow River off the Three Sisters Parkway
Open: April 15 – October 30, 2022 – 100 % reservable
Costs: $47/night for serviced; $31/tent sites
Facilities: 50 sites with power and water and 7 walk-in tent sites – all are reservable
Pluses/Minuses: Great location for summer hiking, biking and paddling. Check out 9 Canmore Hikes That Offer Great Views
Lac des Arcs Campground
Location: 14 km east of Canmore on Highway 1
Open: April 20 – October 10, 2022 – 100% reservable
Facilities: 28 unserviced campsites, playground, fire pits, warmup shelter and hand launch
Pluses/Minuses: Located on the shores of Lac des Arcs, a popular spot for windsurfing, along with great hiking, biking, and paddling.
Willow Rock Campground
Location: Across from the entrance to Bow Valley Park off Highway 1X
Open: April 20 – October 10, 2022
Costs: $31/night – all first come, first served
Facilities: 90 unserviced campsites plus 34 sites with power; playground, showers, flush toilet
Pluses/Minuses: Some campsites are very open. Lots of nearby activities especially related to hiking and biking.
Canoe Meadows Campground
Location: About 6 km south on Highway 40 from the Trans-Canada Highway
Open: April 24 – October 15th, 2022 – by reservation only
Facilities: 10 walk-in tent campsites
Pluses/Minuses: Close to world-class rafting and river surfing on the Kananaskis River
Sundance Lodge off Highway 40
Location: Close to the turnoff for Nakiska Ski Resort and the Kananaskis Nordic Spa
Open: May 13 – October 2, 2022 (but not all accommodation is available in May)
Costs: $89.00 for a small tipi; $101 for a large one that sleeps four or rent a canvas Trapper Tent for $114.00 per night.
Facilities: Tipis, trappers’ tents and RV sites along with picnic tables, fire pits, hot showers, flush toilets, fresh coffee every morning, and a trading post that includes a store, office and gifts
Pluses/Minuses: Excellent hiking, biking and horseback riding nearby. The popular Troll Falls hiking trail is a very short drive away.
Contact: Call or email Sundance Lodge to book.
Mount Kidd RV Park off Highway 40
Location: 28 km south on Highway 40 from the Trans-Canada Highway
Open: Year-round; ongoing 90-day booking window via the Mount Kidd RV Park website
Costs: $39.10/tent, $49.32 for power only/night, $51.75 for power and water per night; full service including cable TV and sani-dump – $57.75/night
Facilities: 229 campsites – equipped to handle motorhomes, trailers, truck campers, tent trailers and tents; picnic table and fire pits
Pluses/Minuses: Play tennis onsite or golf at the Kananaskis Country Golf Course next door. Bike and hike in the area.
Eau Clair Campground off Highway 40 Spray Valley Provincial Park
Location: The campsite is located about 38 km south of Highway 1 along Highway 40.
Open: June 3 – September 11, 2002 – on a first come, first served basis
Facilities: 51 unserviced campsites
Pluses/Minuses: Sites are well-spaced in the trees; easy access to the Eau Claire Interpretive Trail. Close by fishing in the Kananaskis River.
Camping in Kananaskis in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Campgrounds
Canyon Creek Campground
Location: On Lower Kananaskis Lake, 50 km south of Highway 1 on Highway 40 and south on Kananaskis Lakes Trail
Open: May 18 – Sep 18, 2022 – on a first come, first served basis
Facilities: 50 unserviced sites for RV’s and tents
Pluses/Minuses: Excellent access to paddling and paved and mountain bike trails plus close to great hiking
Canyon Campground is in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, 50 km south of Hwy. 1 on Hwy. 40 and south. There are 50 unserviced sites suitable for RVs and tents, with larger sites on open grass and smaller sites in the trees.
Boulton Creek Campground
Location: Approximately 50 km south of Highway 1 on Highway 40
Open: May 12 – October 10, 2022 – 100% reservable
Costs: $31/night for unserviced and walk in tent sites; $47/night for power and water; $55/night for power, water, and sewer
Facilities: 86 unserviced campsites, 6 walk in tent sites; 37 power and water sites and 32 power, water and sewer sites; groceries available at Boulton Creek Trading Post; firepits, showers, pay phone, flush toilets, bear proof food storage
Pluses/Minuses: I found the Boulton Creek Campground to be heavily treed – and without any views so not my favourite, However, it does provide great access to paved bike trails and lots of amazing hiking trails.
Location: Located approximately 50 km south of Highway 1 on Highway 40 and south on Kananaskis Lakes Trail
Open: May 12 – October 10, 2022 – 100% reservable
Costs: $31/night for unserviced sites; $47/night for power and water
Facilities: 61 unserviced campsites; 69 sites with power and water; playground, flush toilets, showers, flush toilets, firepits, amphitheatre, payphone, bearproof food storage
Pluses/Minuses: Close to Kananaskis Lakes, paved bike trails, and lots of fantastic hiking. Most campsites were private and well treed but don’t expect views.
Location: Approximately 63 km south of Highway 1 on Highway 40 and south on Kananaskis Lakes Trail
Open: May 18 – October 10, 2022 – first come, first served
Costs: $31/night – first some, first served
Facilities: 48 unserviced campsites, firepits, bear proof food storage, hand launch, pit toilets
Pluses/Minuses: Gorgeous campground and many campsites enjoy beautiful lake views and easy access to the water. My favourite by a long shot. Lots of great hiking, paddling and biking nearby. Check out Easy Kananaskis Hikes Everyone Will Love
Lower Lake Campground, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Location: Approximately 60 km south of Highway 1 on Highway 40 and south on Kananaskis Lakes Trail
Open: May 12 – September 25, 2022 – 100% reservable
Facilities: 83 unserviced campsites; playground, bear proof storage, firepits, pay phone, pit toilets
Pluses/Minuses: Private and treed campsites but now views. Close to both Kananaskis lakes, hiking, and mountain bike trails as well as paved paths.
William Watson Lodge
Open: Year-round to Albertans with disabilities and their families who can reserve uo to 120 days in advance; Albertan seniors can book up to 60 days in advance.
Costs: $16/night for campsites; $25/night for comfort camping; $30/night for 1 and 2 bedroom cabins; $40/night for three bedroom cabins – For complex reservations call the Main Lodge at 403-591-7227.
Facilities: Barrier free facilities across a variety of accommodations. In total there are 22 accessible cabins, 12 full-serviced campsites, one comfort camping site, accessible picnic sites and over 20 km of accessible trails.
Pluses/Minuses: A great spot in nature near Lower Kananaskis Lake for Albertans with disabilities and seniors 65 years of age and older. “The goal of this facility is to connect people of all abilities, all ages and all cultures to recreational opportunities in nature through providing needs-based accommodation and inspiring more accessible experiences.”
Mount Sarrail Walk-in Tenting Campground
Location: Approximately 62 km south of Highway 1 on Highway 40 and south on Kananaskis Lakes Trail
Open: June 24 – September 5, 2022 – first come, first served
Facilities: 44 walk in tent sites, firepits, bear proof storage
Pluses/Minuses: The campground should be quieter without generators. Close to fantastic hiking, boating, and biking.
Spray Lakes West Campground
Location: Located 16 km south of Canmore on the Smith Dorrien – Spray Lakes Road
Open: May 18 – September 18, 2022 – first come, first served
Facilities: 50 unserviced campsites; food lockers and a bike maintenance stand available to cyclists
Pluses/Minuses: Located on the shores of Spray Lakes Reservoir so great access for boating and fishing; great access to hike like Goat Glacier and Buller Pass. Can get dusty.
Highwood River and Cataract Creek Campgrounds
Cataract Creek Campground, Cataract Creek Provincial Recreation Area
Location: 45 km southwest of Longview on Hwy. 541 and 12 km south on Highway 940 – the Forestry Trunk Road.
Open: May 19 – September 5, 2022 – on a first come, first served basis
Facilities: 102 unserviced campsites
Pluses/Minuses: Fishing available in the creek. A great basecamp to hike in the area. Check out the Mt. Burke hike and the Raspberry Ridge hike to a fire lookout.
Etherington Creek Campground, Cataract Creek Provincial Recreation Area
Location: 50 km west of Longview via Highway 541 and Highway 940 – the Foresty Trunk Road.
Open: May 19 – September 18, 2022 – 100 % reservable
Facilities: 55 unserviced campsites plus 6 walk-in sites for tents
Pluses/Minuses: Campsites are spacious, and in the trees, so generally good privacy. A great location for horseback riding and hiking.
Indian Graves Campground
Location: 29 km south of Longview on Highway 22 and 13 km west on Highway 532
Open: May 20 – October 10, 2022; run by a third-party operator and reservable here
Facilities: 32 unserviced campsites, cooking shelter, playground, fire pits
Pluses/Minuses: Spacious campsites in the trees and good access to backcountry hiking and horseback riding. Corrals available for horses.
Location: 24 km west of Longview on Highway 541
Open: May 19 – September 5th, 2022 – first come, first served
Facilities: 13 unserviced campsites with a picnic shelter, fire pits and pit toilets
Pluses/Minuses: Small, scenic campground with most campsites along the Highwood River where anglers can enjoy fishing.
Elbow River Valley Campgrounds
Beaver Flats Campground
Location: 20 km west of Bragg Creek on Highway 66
Open: May 15 – September 6, 2022 – first come, first served basis
Facilities: 49 unserviced campsites, most suitable for RV’s and 6 walk in tent campsites
Pluses/Minuses: Campsites are large and well treed. Lots of great hiking and mountain biking nearby.
Location: 10 km west of Bragg Creek along Highway 66
Open: April 14 – October 10, 2022 – 100% reservable
Costs: Unserviced and tenting – $31/night; with power – $39/night
Facilities: 28 unserviced campsites, 51 with power and 6 with walk in tent sites; playground, picnic tables, dry toilets, and fire pits. Purchase wood onsite.
Pluses/Minuses: Campsites are close to the Elbow River in a mixed forest of aspen and pine. Lots of great hiking nearby. Popular because of its location close to Calgary.
Little Elbow Campground
Location: 34 km west of Bragg Creek on Highway 66 (which is closed annually from May 15 – December 1st)
Open: May 15 – September 19, 2022 – 100 % reservable
Facilities: 64 unserviced campsites and 30 walk-in tent campsites; fire pits, picnic tables, playground, dry toilets, interpretive trails
Pluses/Minuses: Great location overlooking the Elbow River and a great base for hiking Nihahi Ridge (trail starts from the campground), Powderface Ridge and Forget-Me-Not Ridge.
McLean Creek Campground
Location: 12 km west of Bragg Creek and 1.3 km south on McLean Creek Trail
Open: Year-round and reservable
Costs: $31/night for unserviced, $39 with power
Facilities: 74 unserviced campsites, 96 campsites with power and 170 campsites for winter camping; some campsites are reserved for those with ATV’s and OHV’s; flush toilets, showers, playground, firepits, amphitheatre, tap water in the summer months, pay phone
Pluses/Minuses: Large campground with an extensive trail system right from the campground. Many campsites are well treed and as such offer privacy.
Paddy’s Flat Campground
Location: About 17 km west of Bragg Creek along Highway 66
Open: April 29 – September 19, 2022 – first come, first served
Facilities: 98 unserviced campsites, fire pits, playground, pit toilets
Pluses/Minuses: Nicely treed campsites, with some sites backing right onto the Elbow River. Easy access to interpretive trails and hikes like the Fullerton Loop which is family friendly
Sheep River Valley Campgrounds
North Fork Campground
Location: 6 km west of Millarville on Highway 549
Open: May 13 – September 12, 2022 – first come, first served
Facilities: 34 unserviced campsites, fire pits and pit toilets
Pluses/Minuses: Bring your own water. Campsite is an excellent base for hiking and mountain biking in the Sheep Valley. Try the nearby easy Mesa Butte hike.
Fisher Creek Campground
Location: 12 km west of Bragg Creek on Highway 66 and 15 km south on McLean Creek Road
Open: Year round – looks to be first come, first served
Facilities: 15 unserviced campsites, 15 walk in tent sites and 30 winter camping sites
Pluses/Minuses: Good foothills basecamp for hiking.
Location: 35 km west of Turner Valley on Highway 546
Open: May 15 – September 19, 2022 – on a first come, first served basis
Facilities: 66 unserviced campsites with firepits and pit toilets
Pluses/Minuses: Treed sites close to the pretty Sheep River – and Sheep River Falls is a short drive away. Great area for road biking and hiking.
Sandy McNabb Campground
Location: 21 km west of Turner Valley on Highway 546
Open: April 29 – October 10, 2022 – 100% reservable
Facilities: 112 campsites with power for RV’s and tents, firepits, playground, flush toilets, tap water, sewage disposal
Pluses/Minuses: Well treed sites in a pine forest close to the Sheep River and many activities including hiking and mountain biking. Try the nearby Foran Grade – Windy Point hike.
Camping in Kananaskis – some backcountry suggestions
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