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Frontcountry camping in Kananaskis at Interlakes Campground

A Complete Guide to Camping in Kananaskis

Everything you need to know for frontcountry camping

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.

Looking out to the mountains from a picnic area at the Canyon Campground
Looking out to the mountains from a picnic area at the Canyon Campground

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.

Mountains views from the Canyon Campground, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Mountains views from the Canyon Campground, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

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 

Our tent was on he other side of the car overlooking the Bow River
Our tent was on he other side of the car overlooking the Bow River – and very private

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

Costs: $31/night

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

Costs: $29/night

Facilities: 10 walk-in tent campsites

Pluses/Minuses:  Close to world-class rafting and river surfing on the Kananaskis River

The backdrop at the Cane Meadows Campground
The backdrop at the Cane Meadows Campground

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.

Tipis in the forest you can stay in at Sundance Lodge
Tipis in the forest that you can rent at Sundance Lodge

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

Costs: $31/night

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

Costs: 

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. 

You can rent canoes and kayaks at Canyon Campground
You can rent canoes and kayaks at Canyon Campground

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.

Campsites are heavily treed in the Boulton Creek Campground
Campsites are heavily treed in the Boulton Creek Campground

Elkwood Campground

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.

Playgrounds are a nice addition for families
Playgrounds are a nice addition for families

Interlakes Campground

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

One of the beautiful campsites at Interlakes Campground
One of the beautiful campsites at Interlakes Campground

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

Costs: $31/night

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.

A firepit is a blessing on a cool June day
A firepit is a blessing on a cool June day

William Watson Lodge

Location:

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.

The main lodge at William Watson Campground
William Watson Lodge

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

Costs: $31/night

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

Costs: $31/night

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.

Campsite at Spray Lakes West Campground
Campsite at Spray Lakes West Campground

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

Costs: $31/night

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.

The Cataract Creek Campground is just ahead in the trees
The Cataract Creek Campground is just ahead in the trees; that’s Mount Burke covered in snow on the right

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

Costs: $31/night

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

Costs: $26/night

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.

Greenford Campground

Location: 24 km west of Longview on Highway 541

Open: May 19 – September 5th, 2022 – first come, first served

Costs: $31/night

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

Costs: $31/night

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.

Gooseberry Campground

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

Costs: $31/night

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.

Roomy campsites at Little Elbow Campground
Roomy campsites at Little Elbow Campground

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

Costs: $31/night

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

Costs: $31/night

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.

The Mesa Butte hike is a great three season hike
The Mesa Butte hike is a great three season hike and easily done from the North Fork Campground

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

Costs: $31/night

Facilities: 15 unserviced campsites, 15 walk in tent sites and 30 winter camping sites

Pluses/Minuses: Good foothills basecamp for hiking.

Bluerock Campground

Location: 35 km west of Turner Valley on Highway 546

Open: May 15 – September 19, 2022 – on a first come, first served basis

Costs: $31/night

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.

Sheep River Falls is nearby
Sheep River Falls is nearby

Sandy McNabb Campground

Location: 21 km west of Turner Valley on Highway 546

Open: April 29 – October 10, 2022 – 100% reservable

Costs: $39/night

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.

Pack bikes so yo can cycle the Sheep River Valley
Pack bikes so you can cycle the Sheep River Valley

Camping in Kananaskis – some backcountry suggestions

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A complete guide to frontcountry camping in Kananaskis Country

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