Trip and Wellness

9 Best Campgrounds in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

9 Best Campgrounds in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

Situated just an hour from Calgary, the rugged wilderness of Kananaskis County serves as a fantastic outdoor playground, offering a unique camping experience. Alberta Parks has recently invested over five million dollars in the Kananaskis Country facilities, including the campgrounds, enhancing the overall quality of the area.

Dominating the landscape are towering, jagged mountains that rise from the valley floor, surrounding an array of cold, clear lakes. Campers can indulge in a variety of activities, from hiking, mountain biking, road biking, and mountaineering to boating, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and more.

Camping in Kananaskis Country is synonymous with mountain camping, featuring cool nights and variable weather during the day. Weather conditions can swiftly change from sunny and warm to breezy, cloudy, and cold. Most campgrounds are situated around the 1,524-meter (5,000-feet) elevation range.

Kananaskis Country embodies nature at its finest, making it an excellent location for wildlife sightings. Encounter mountain goats, marmots, deer, moose, and, if fortunate, grizzly bears – a consideration when selecting your campsite.

Your camping companions are likely to be fellow Albertans, as international travelers typically prefer campgrounds in Banff, Lake Louise, and the Icefields Parkway areas. Campgrounds in Kananaskis Country exude a more remote and tranquil atmosphere compared to those in the more well-known regions.

Recently, the province of Alberta introduced the Kananaskis Conservation Pass, mandatory for users in this area. Whether opting for a daily or yearly pass, it is available online or at the Kananaskis Visitor Centers or the Canmore Nordic Center Day Lodge.

Before embarking on your adventure, peruse our list of the best campgrounds in Kananaskis Country for guidance.

1. Mount Kidd Campground

Mount Kidd Campground
Source: istockphoto

Situated a short distance down Highway 40 (off the Trans-Canada Highway) on the right side, you will find the Mount Kidd Campground, one of the larger campgrounds in the Kananaskis area boasting 229 sites.

This campground is an excellent choice not only for its breathtaking mountain views but also for the abundance of activities in the surrounding area. Numerous hiking trails are just a short drive away, and for those seeking closer options, trails depart right from the campground. Mountain bike trails are nearby, and the campground’s ample size allows children to enjoy biking around the park roads.

Guests can make use of the free tennis courts, and the world-class Kananaskis Golf Course is conveniently located next door. On warm days, the children’s splash pad becomes a popular spot.

The campsites are well-spaced and nestled in treed areas with large pines, providing a good level of privacy. Campers can choose from 15/20/30/50-amp electrical service and various service options, including sewer and water. Paved roads throughout the park eliminate any dust concerns.

For added convenience, pull-through sites are available, and Wi-Fi can be accessed for an additional fee. The campground store is well-equipped with all the necessities in case you forget anything.

2. Elkwood Campground

Elkwood Campground
Elkwood Campground

Elkwood Campground offers more creature comforts compared to nearby alternatives. The sites are nestled among slender, tall pines but do not provide views of the mountains or the lake.

With a total of 130 sites, all of which can be reserved online up to 90 days in advance, Elkwood accommodates stays of up to 10 nights, or 16 nights if multiple reservations are made. The sites are divided, with 61 being unserved and 69 equipped with power and water.

Since the sites here offer power and water, it’s feasible to set up camp for an extended period. The campground provides amenities such as showers (for a fee), flush toilets, and interpretive programs.

Situated along the 12.1-kilometer paved Peter Lougheed Bike Trail, which connects five campgrounds and the Discovery Center, Elkwood is conveniently located for biking enthusiasts.

While access to the lakes may not be as optimal as in other campgrounds, it remains decent, and the trade-off for improved amenities could be worthwhile, depending on your preferences for a camping experience.

3. Lower Lake Campground

Lower Lake Campground
Lower Lake Campground

Lower Lake Campground, positioned close to the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes, is a mid-size campground offering 95 unserved sites nestled among the trees. Most of these sites are generously sized and pleasant, with some providing glimpses through the trees of the lake and mountains, particularly in Loops B and C, which are closest to the lake.

The lakes are enjoyable for water sports, and if you have a boat, a convenient launch is available right within the campground. Hiking trails meander throughout the campground, and the campground roads are suitable for family biking. Additionally, a playground is present, and the comfort stations feature flush toilets.

For a picturesque view overlooking the lake, a short walk to the viewpoint near the boat launch is recommended.

Reservations can be made 90 days in advance, allowing for a maximum stay of 10 nights per reservation. Extended stays, up to a maximum of 16 days, are permitted but require multiple bookings.

4. Canyon Campground

Canyon Campground, Alberta
Canyon Campground, Alberta

Canyon Campground, much like numerous campgrounds in Kananaskis, offers incredibly scenic views of the sheer rock faces of the Opal Mountain Range. The campground is divided into two sections: a lower area and an upper area. While the upper section features nicer campsites, each area has its unique advantages.

The lower area is an open camping space with small trees, providing ample light and stunning mountain views. However, it lacks privacy. On the other hand, the upper section, situated in the surrounding hills, has smaller sites that are well-distributed, offering enhanced privacy, making them more suitable for tents.

With a total of 50 unserved sites, Canyon Campground has a smaller and cozier atmosphere compared to many neighboring campgrounds, providing a genuine off-the-grid experience. It is set back from the highway, contributing to its secluded feel.

The campground serves as a starting point for hiking trails, and the Lodgepole Biking Trail passes through, connecting this campground with others in the area. Additionally, it provides access to a boat launch on Lower Kananaskis Lake.

Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with the registration kiosk located on the right upon entering the campground area. Throughout the summer season, an on-site caretaker/manager is available to address any questions or concerns.

5. Bow River Campground

Bow River Campground
Bow River Campground, Alberta

Bow River Campground offers a natural camping experience while providing access to nearby urban activities. Nestled in a grove of tall trees that offer plenty of shade and privacy between sites, the campground enjoys the added advantage of the Bow River flowing along its edge. It’s an ideal forest hideout for the entire family.

For RV enthusiasts, the campground boasts 173 sites, with 131 featuring electricity (30/50-amp service) and water hookups. Additionally, there are unserved sites, along with six walk-in sites suitable for tents only. Campground amenities include showers, flush toilets, and interpretive programs.

For those seeking a taste of urban adventure, Canmore is conveniently located just 30 kilometers to the west, offering excellent restaurants and grocery stores. Bow River Campground also serves as a great starting point for day trips to Banff National Park, with Banff Townsite 54 kilometers farther west. For those looking to venture to Lake Louise, it’s an additional 57 kilometers.

Sites are available for online reservations up to 90 days in advance, with a maximum stay of 10 days, extendable to 16 days with multiple reservations.

6. Eau Claire Campground

Eau Claire Campground
Eau Claire Campground

Eau Claire Campground offers a cozy and intimate camping experience, featuring large, well-spaced sites nestled within a pine forest. While the sites provide ample shade and protection from the wind, they also ensure excellent privacy. The paved loop roads offer mountain views, enhancing the overall appeal of the campground.

With all 51 sites operating on a first-come, first-served basis, campers can enjoy the unserved sites. For RVs, it’s essential to be prepared for dry camping or boondocking, as there are no hookups. The campground provides water through a traditional well hand pump.

Staying at Eau Claire Campground provides convenient access to the Kananaskis River, offering excellent opportunities for fishing and paddling. Explore the intriguing Eau Claire Interpretive Trail, a 1.5-kilometer path along the river. Before setting out, be sure to grab a brochure or download one for insights into the area’s history, as people have been camping here for over 5,000 years. The trail features 11 signposted points of interest.

7. Interlakes Campground

View of Lower Kananaskis Lake from above Interlakes Campground
View of Lower Kananaskis Lake from above Interlakes Campground

Securing a campsite at Interlakes Campground is a stroke of luck in Alberta. It stands out among Kananaskis Country campgrounds as one of the rare sites offering true waterfront locations.

With only 48 unserved sites, approximately half of which are along the waterfront, you gain immediate access to Lower Kananaskis Lake. Since sites are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, securing one on weekends can be challenging. Enthusiasts often opt for midweek visits, ensuring an extended stay.

The campground provides basic facilities, including pit toilets and a hand pump for water. Numerous hiking, walking, and biking trails originate from the campground, while a hand boat launch (no vehicle access) facilitates easy launching of stand-up paddleboards, canoes, or kayaks.

8. Canoe Meadows Campground

Canoe Meadows Campground
Canoe Meadows Campground

Situated on the Kananaskis River in Bow Valley Provincial Park, this campground caters to enthusiasts of white-water kayaking and rafting. Specifically designed for these activities, the river features strategically placed boulders for added effect.

Recent upgrades have enhanced the campground, introducing new individual sites, improved comfort facilities, and kayak racks. The campground is effectively divided into two sections. Along the river’s edge but elevated, there are 10 individual walk-in tent sites with a delightful setting just steps away from the river. The large group camping area is located over the hill in a spacious open area, featuring a sizable communal building.

Online reservations can be made for these sites up to 90 days in advance, allowing a maximum stay of 10 nights, or 16 nights with multiple bookings.

9. Spray Lakes West Campground

Spray Lakes West Campground
Spray Lakes West Campground

Just a short drive up the significant hill from Canmore, you will find the Spray Lakes West Campground. One of its major advantages is that numerous sites are situated directly along the water’s edge, offering stunning views of the towering mountains on the opposite shore.

The campground comprises 50 sites, all allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The sites vary in suitability, with some more appropriate for tents, while others can easily accommodate RVs. All sites lack electrical hookups, and the basic amenities include pit toilets. Water is accessible from a traditional well pump.

If you’re a fan of boating, hiking, road biking, or mountain biking, this location is ideal. A boat launch is conveniently nearby, and the trails are just a short drive or ride away.


Q: Is camping in Kananaskis Country suitable for beginners?

A: Yes, Kananaskis Country offers campgrounds suitable for both beginners and experienced campers. Researching and choosing the right campground based on your preferences is key.

Q: Are there pet-friendly campgrounds in the area?

A: Many campgrounds in Kananaskis Country are pet friendly. Check individual campground policies to ensure a comfortable stay with your furry friends.

Q: What is the best time to visit Kananaskis Country for camping?

A: The summer months, from June to September, are popular for camping. However, each season offers a unique experience, so choose the time that aligns with your preferences.

Q: Are reservations required for campgrounds in Kananaskis Country?

A: It’s advisable to make reservations, especially during peak seasons, to secure your spot. Some campgrounds may operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Q: How can campers contribute to conservation efforts in Kananaskis Country?

A: Campers can contribute by following leave-no-trace principles, adhering to campground rules, and participating in organized conservation initiatives. Every small effort adds up to preserving the natural beauty of the region.