Heading into Alberta's Great Outdoors This Summer? Passes and permits you should know about.

AuthorSurtees, Jeff

It's your responsibility to know the rules before you head out to enjoy parks, camp, hunt or fish, and operate off-highway vehicles or boats.

One positive thing to come out of COVID-19 is that more Albertans are exploring the beautiful outdoors of our province.

Before venturing out though, you should know about a few passes and permits.

Otherwise, you may run the risk of a very expensive adventure!

Park Passes

If you want to spend time in any national park or Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley, you need a pass. Vehicles travelling through do not.

Parks Canada issues passes for national parks in Alberta (Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Waterton National Park and Elk Island National Park). You can buy a Discovery Pass, which covers admission to more than 90 national parks and historic sites for one year. These passes are available at any park gate or park visitor centre, or online. The price depends on the number and ages of the people using the pass. For example, a family/group pass is good for up to 7 people in a vehicle and is $139.40 (taxes included). If you are only planning to be in a park for a few days, you can buy a single-location pass.

In the spring of 2021, the Government of Alberta introduced a Conservation Pass for

Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley. All vehicles parked at the provincial park and public land sites must have a pass. You can buy a pass online, or in-person at designated locations. The pass connects to up to two license plates registered at the same address. Annual passes and day passes are available.

Camping Permits

Camping is a favourite Alberta pastime. But it is not as simple as pitching a tent on whatever flat piece of land you find! You cannot camp on someone's private land or on Crown land unless you have permission to be there.

Alberta offers many campgrounds. Some you must reserve ahead of time, others are first come, first served. Some are government-run on Crown land, others are privately-run on private land. Some offer hook-ups for camping trailers and motor homes, others simply offer tent pads or space.

We also categorize camping as front country or backcountry. Front country camping includes individual and group campsites, walk-in tenting, equestrian camping and winter camping.

Backcountry camping is accessible by foot, horseback or mountain bike. These sites are at least 1 km from the parking lot! There are designated backcountry campgrounds and random backcountry camping. There are...

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