Are you looking to snag one of the best camping spots that Alberta Parks has to offer this summer? Make sure you’ve marked the calendar 90 days in advance of arrival, and don’t plan to arrive on a Saturday!
We’ve been booking these sites for YEARS and have a host of tips and tricks. Read on for all the tea – and still following the rules!
The Basics of Campsite Reservations with Alberta Parks
- Alberta Parks lets you book campsites 90 days in advance of the time you will begin your camping trip. This means that if you plan to camp on the May Long Weekend, you can reserve a site starting on Tuesday February 20th.
- You can book a site for up to 16 days in a row.
- You need to have an account with Alberta Parks reservation system: reserve.albertaparks.ca
- Make your account now so that you are not wasting time on the day you need to book!
Tips for Site Selection
Think about your needs and wants and create a list of parks using the filters on the Find a Park tool. Some things to consider include:
- Park Location relative to where you live (how long is the drive?)
- Do you want to be close to the beach or playground?
- Do you require power?
- How long is your RV/how big is your tent?
- Is a shower house a must?
- Do you want a park that has interpretive programming?
Once you’ve determined your family’s camping needs and parks that meet them, make a list of the campsite numbers that you would like.
Go into Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca and look at pictures to get a better idea of privacy, size, firepit placement, and other features.
Always have a few back-ups in mind, in case that site is already taken.
Advanced Planning and Booking Tips
Getting the perfect site can be a challenge, especially if you really want a waterfront site, plan to camp over a long weekend, must have a power site, or are looking for a campground close to Calgary or Edmonton. With several years of experience, these are our best tips to grab your dream site:
- Do some math. Due to the 90 day booking window if you want to book a site for later in the summer, say over Canada Day, you will have to count back 90 days and then note that date in a calendar to log back in and reserve a site.
- Plan to arrive on Thursday! Add an extra day to your weekend, and beat the crowd onto the reservation system.
- Arrive on Sunday and spend the week in an empty campground. Most campgrounds empty out on Sundays, and by Monday afternoon there’s often only a 5-10% occupancy rate. So calm and quiet – and the kids get the playground to themselves!
- Keep checking back if you miss the boat and your preferred campsite or campground is full! Often as the departure date gets closer people cancel their reservation and if you’re lucky you can snag it once it becomes available.
You aren’t allowed to slide your reservation. You can’t book a two week reservation, cancel it, and then book just the last two days of that window. Alberta Parks can cancel all your upcoming reservations and ban you from the system if you are caught. (And you have morals, so you won’t cheat the system!)
Other Camping Options
- Parks Canada campgrounds open reservations in January each year. All campgrounds across Canada are staggered over a two week period for all dates in the upcoming reservation season (typically May to October, but it varies by park).
- Alberta Parks Group Camping is also available for reservations, as are Alberta Parks’ Comfort Camping.
- Private Campgrounds. Many privately owned and operated campgrounds have started taking reservations. Travel Alberta has a list of over 600 campgrounds in the province!
- Ask around! One of the best ways I get to know what campgrounds exist in our great province is just by asking everyone I meet who camps. There are some real hidden gems out there! Be sure to check our favourite campgrounds.
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