Kananaskis Country


Kananaskis Country Camping Without Reservations

Kananaskis Country camping without reservations is possible but does require some planning and a little bit of luck. Below, we discuss the first-come, first-served campgrounds in Kananaskis Country and also when to make last-minute reservations.

How the Kananaskis Country Reservation System Works

Most Kananaskis Country campgrounds are extremely popular and you’ll need reservations. You can make these up to 90 days in advance of your planned stay through the RESERVE ALBERTA PARKS online reservations system. When campsites open 90 days in advance they fill very quickly (sometimes within hours of the 90-day window beginning), especially for weekends (Friday and Saturday nights) throughout the entire season.

Outside of July and August, it is often possible to make reservations for sites midweek closer to the date you want to travel. If you want to make a last-minute reservation, this is often possible for midweek stays in May, June, and September until closing.

For campgrounds that require reservations, you are not permitted to show up and take an empty site. If you arrive at a campground that requires reservations, and there are empty sites, you will need to find Internet access and make a last-minute booking. If you are in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, for example, you can go to the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre, which as Internet access.

Alberta Parks maintains a Weekend Campground Vacancy page on its website.

Kananaskis Country Camping Cancellations

If you don’t have advance reservations, it is worthwhile checking the RESERVE ALBERTA PARKS website as the date of your planned camping trip gets closer. If the weather forecast calls for cold or wet weather, there may be a rush of cancellations a few days in advance, allowing you to find a site at short notice.

It’s not uncommon for cattle to pass through Kananaskis’s more remote campgrounds.

Kananaskis Country First-Come, First-Served Campgrounds

Some Kananaskis Country campgrounds are first-come, first-served, but these have fewer facilities and are often in more remote locations.

Be forewarned, that arriving early on a Friday to get be assured a site for the weekend does not always work out, as it is common practice for Calgarians to come out to Kananaskis Country on Thursday (or even Wednesday) and fill out the registration and pay for an extra night or two to ensure they have a site for the weekend.

Closest to Kananaskis Village and beside busy Highway 40, EAU CLAIRE CAMPGROUND (mid-May to early Sept.) has limited facilities. No reservations are taken, but the Bow Valley Campgrounds website posts up-to-date vacancy numbers.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is by far the busiest facility area in Kananaskis Country. Here you’ll find six campgrounds that hold 507 sites linked by bicycle and hiking trails. Three of these campgrounds are first-come, first-served, but they are extremely popular and facilities are limited (no powered sites or showers). The three first-come, first-served campgrounds are CANYON CAMPGROUND (mid-June to early Sept.), MOUNT SARRAIL CAMPGROUND (mid-June to early Sept.) for tents only, and INTERLAKES CAMPGROUND (mid-May to early Oct.). Interlakes is our pick of the three as many of the 48 sites have lake views.

Of the five Elbow Valley campgrounds, only PADDY’S FLAT (20 km from Bragg Creek) and BEAVER FLATS (30 km from Bragg Creek) are first-come, first-served. Due to their proximity to Calgary, both are very popular throughout the summer season.

Two campgrounds in the remote region south of Highwood Junction are first-come, first-served. In our experience, there are usually sites available, except on the very busiest long weekends (such as long weekends in July, August, and September). They are ETHERINGTON CREEK CAMPGROUND (mid-May-Sept.), seven km south of the junction, and CATARACT CREEK (mid-May-early Sept.) five km farther south. Both offer primitive facilities, including water, pit toilets, firewood, fire pits, and picnic tables.

Continuing south, along Highway 532 up and over Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve, is the even-more-remote 32-site INDIAN GRAVES CAMPGROUND (mid-May to mid-Oct.), where reservations are accepted online, but there is generally space.

Cataract Creek Campground.