Free Camping in Alberta

With todays constantly raising camping fees many people ask – “where can I camp for free”? The good news is that, for those who are willing to do without some of the luxuries present at paid campgrounds such as, running water or flush toilets, there are many free camping options and below I’d like to […]

Written By Clayton Kessler

On May 18, 2011

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With todays constantly raising camping fees many people ask – “where can I camp for free”?

The good news is that, for those who are willing to do without some of the luxuries present at paid campgrounds such as, running water or flush toilets, there are many free camping options and below I’d like to shed some light on some of these free camping sites located throughout the province of Alberta, Canada.

Camping is an awesome way to experience the outdoors and free camping is permitted on Public (crown) lands is permitted in Alberta. The Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) department of Alberta recommends following some basic rules and guidelines while camping and using public lands. They encourage the practice of “no trace camping”

Plan ahead and be prepared.

  • Contact lease holder prior to travelling on leased land.
  • Know what the terrain and ground conditions are like and your planned route.

Respect the right of other users by limiting your stay to a maximum 14 consecutive days

Lave what you find and don’t disturb.

This includes to rocks, plants, crops, lifestock or archeological artifacts you might encounter.

Manage food and waste.

  • Dispose human waste in outhouse or at sewage disposal site and if not available dispose all human waste in “cat holes” dug 6-8 inches into soil, at least 100 metres (300 feet) from water, camp, trails and drainages.
  • Don’t litter and pack out everything using sealed bags.

Minimize your impact by sticking to established camping areas and camping surfaces.

Be careful with Campfires. Keep the fire small and don’t leave it unattended.  Put out your fire with water before leaving.

Camp at least 30 metres (100 feet) away from any watercourse.


For a summary of all of the guidelines that should be followed while recreating on public lands check out this guide: (click image below to read pdf file)

Camping Free in Alberta

Camp for free in Alberta but Respect The Land


Did you know camping is permitted in Forest Land Use Zones (FLUZ)?

“A Forest Land Use Zone (FLUZ) is an area of public land to which legislative controls apply under authority of the Forests Act, Forest Recreation Regulation (343/1979) to assist in the management of industrial, commercial, and recreational land uses and resources”.  At the time of writing, there are 19 FLUZ zones covering approximately 11,200 square km’s (4,324.34 square miles) of public land in Alberta.

One of my favorite FLUZ zones is found in the Kananaski’s Contry area located about 45 minute drive west of Calgary in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

Check out the forestland use zone you would like to visit at

Looking for a good deal on high quality tent, sleeping bag or other camping supplies?

The guys at handpick backcountry gear deals from top on-line retailers and post them daily. They promise savings of 25% or more.  Check out their hiking & camping gear deals.


  1. Hilda

    Is there anywhere in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia where a
    person can camp for free on Crown Land and for how long? It would be
    greatly appreciated any information you could give me … thank you

    • Clayton

      Hello Hilda, great to see you here at TracksAndTrails! I found a great link for Quebec Crown Land info
      and here is a quote in regards to the use of public lands in Quebec, “More than 92% of Québec’s territory is Crown land.”
      New Brunswick Government has a great pdf document that tells all about camping on crown land in New Brunswick

      I found the special permit for camping long term on crown land in NB specially interesting. here is a quote “Description
      A camp is a recreational dwelling that has been placed or constructed on a designated camp lot and is not used as a principal residence. It may be a permanently-affixed structure or a mobile unit.

      Designated Camp Lot is a parcel of Crown land that is between 0.4 and 0.5 ha in size and has been designated by the Minister as a camp lot. These have been designated across the Province and availability can be obtained by contacting the Crown Lands-Land Use Application Service Centre at 1-888-312-5600.

      The construction and/or placement of any structure on a camp lot shall be in accordance with the Provincial Building Regulation and the version of the National Building Code specified in that Regulation.

      A camp lot lessee must follow the terms & conditions of their lease such as payments of rental and property taxes, adherence to building requirements, boundary line maintenance, site rehabilitation, etc.

      Rents for camp lots will now reflect the size and market value of the property rather than just a flat fee. The Standard Rent Formula can be found in the Lands Administration Regulation at the link above. For waterfront properties the rent would be twice that of the standard rent. ” and the rest of the information including the fees can be read in this Crown Land Camp Lease in NB website.

      Here is another great quote from NB and could be applied to the other provinces as well with a telephone number change: Additional Protection
      Camping is not permitted on some Crown land
      sites because of environmental, health, or safety
      concerns. These sites will be posted.
      This is not a legal document. People using Crown
      lands are responsible to know the current rules
      and regulations.
      Call 1-888-312-5600 for more information. Keyword: Natural Resources

      I lived in South West New Brunswick for several years and I found that it was difficult to find remote crown land due to the fact that people are everywhere there! Not to say that I didn’t find some nice ocean front sites and beautiful spots on the St. Croix! To find more open and remote areas, I believe you need to go to Northern NB – an area of which I know nothing of except that you may want to brush up on your French. 🙂
      As far as time restraints in NB for camping on Crown Land – as per the pdf doc mentioned above – it just says “a short period of time”

      Nova Scotia Crown Land Camping
      My info begins with a definition quote from the official Nova Scotia Crown Land Use website
      “Crown lands are all or any part of the land under the administration and control of the Minister of Natural Resources. Of the 5.8 million hectares of land in Nova Scotia, about 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres or about 24% of the province) is designated as Crown land.”

      The activities that are permitted in wilderness areas and wildlife management zones are different than those permitted on Crown land. For questions regarding wildlife management zones, please contact the regional offices of the Department of Natural Resources. Questions about wilderness areas should be directed to the Department of Environment.

      NS crown land regional offices

      NS Department of Environment:

      Isn’t Canada Awesome!!!!!!!

      • Don

        Thank you for this information. I have been considering moving back to the Maritime region (New Brunswick?) but have been concerned about a possible lack of freedom to camp on crown land – i.e. that not owned by the Irvings. This will help!

  2. Hilda

    Hello Clayton,

    Thank you for your quick respnse. It is very much appreciated – more than you will ever know – so keep up the great work with responding to people when questions are asked. If you come across any other info, please feel free to send me the info. Thanks again for all the work you do.

    Have a great day and enjoy the sunshine!

  3. Shy

    I have lived in my fifthwheel for years, and would like to set up somewhere rural where I can maintain a year round camp. I no longer like being in a privately owned campground. Is crown land available for such things? If so, how do I apply for crown land for this purpose?
    Thank you.

  4. Clayton

    Hey Shy,
    I just completed some research on Albertan Crownland. I find that BC has information that is much easier to access than other provinces in regards to camping and applying for special tenure on crown land. In BC, you can stay on crown land for up to two weeks. I couldn’t find similar information for Alberta yet but the link in the Alberta Free Camping info above is really great with lots of land use information and maps for Alberta parks. Here is a bit more:

    If you have any concerns or questions about the Land-use Framework or this website, contact Alberta’s Land Use Secretariat at:
    Alberta Land Use Secretariat
    9th floor, Centre West Building
    10035 – 108 Street
    Edmonton, AB T5J 3E1

    Phone: (780) 644-7972
    Fax: (780) 644-1034


    So bottom line for free camping in your rv is to ensure you move from campsite to campsite every couple of weeks and you should be ok. Happy camping to you!

  5. Brenda

    On your site for free camping in BC you have all the places listed. Do you have it listed somewhere for Alberta? Can’t seem to find it if you do. I appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks

    • Clayton

      Thanks for the Question Brenda. You are correct, I do not have Free Alberta camping locations listed ….yet. 🙂 I hired help to get the BC recreation site camping locations listed and now my plan is to have somone document them with pictures and videos and gps tracks. …then I will move into Alberta. If you experience some great free camping locations please note them here. 🙂

  6. Jim

    Can US residents Camp free on crown land in Alberta?

  7. Lisa

    Any luck on the list of places in Alberta?

    • Clayton Kessler

      Hello Lisa, thanks for visiting TracksAndTrails! I can now say yes! We do have Alberta free campsites listed. There are still a couple dozen we need to add but we will have them by the end of April. The way you can view all the campsites we have listed for Alberta is to go to any TracksAndTrails page, on the Search menu just below the top of the page or possibly just under the large map at the top it will have three fields to search with. The first allows input of any text,(leave that field blank for now) the second allows you to choose a location (For this example select “Alberta” from the drop down) The last allows you to choose a category (leave that field blank and all campgrounds available will show, you will soon note which ones are provincial parks and which ones are recreation sites) Look for the recreation areas as that is where the free campsites are. We will be adding private campgrounds soon. The recreation sites are not all free. Some will have a small fee of 10 – 20 dollars. Please try the above search features, scroll around, pan the map, view the info in different ways and leave a few comments. We are undergoing a huge upgrade that affects everything on the site and it will look and operate a lot more efficiently in a couple of months or sooner. Your input is extremely helpful. Thanks again.

  8. Lisa

    Beautiful, thank you for the immediate response. Look forward to checking it out.


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Step 1.

Fluff the fatwood by scraping the stick with the edge of your striker. If a hunting knife is available, use the BACK of the blade to fluff.

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