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Day trip: Alberta Camping

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Spring is here, and with warmer weather and the winter semester coming to an end, some individuals might want to get away to the great outdoors. For those who are looking to get away with friends, make campfires, and soak up all the goodness nature has to offer, our province has a wide array of campgrounds to choose from. What makes Alberta camping a great outdoor activity is its accessibility and low price. There are many areas that are close to the city of Edmonton and surrounding areas. The scenery is also amazing — the mountains are only about a four-hour drive from the city. For those who are itching to experience a weekend outdoors, this article will provide you with some of the province’s greatest camping spots.

First, for those who are looking for campsites closer to the city, I recommend Miquelon Lake campground. It is about a 40-minute drive from Sherwood Park, or an hour from downtown Edmonton. What makes this campsite desirable is not only the short drive, but the secluded campground sites. It is perfect for a quick weekend getaway and for those who just want to set up a tent and roast marshmallows on the crackling fire. The campsite itself also offers some beautiful trails to walk on, and from my experience it is pretty quiet. However, for those looking to take a dip in the lake, this might not be the campsite for you, as there tends to be a high volume of leeches and algae from my experience. A regular campground without power is about $34 a night, but for a site
with power, it will cost about $42 a night. You can reserve a spot on the Alberta Parks website, albertaparks.ca.

Another favourite campground is the Big Knife Provincial Park campground. The drive to this site is about two hours long, and what sets it apart from a standard campground is that it is in the Alberta coulees. For those looking for a nice scenic change, camping in the valley is perfect for those who enjoy hiking. The provincial park is equipped with two trails; the highland and river flats trail that range from four to six kilometres in length, and are open year round. Big Knife is also the perfect place for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, boating, and swimming. The park is open to campers from May to September annually, and it only costs $30 a night to rent one of the 51 campsites. You can book a spot on the Alberta Parks website.

Finally, the best part about being Albertan is having the mountains in your own backyard. For those willing to make the drive south, camping in the mountains is one of the best experiences. The fresh mountain air is perfect for a mental reset. One of my favorite campgrounds to visit is the Mount Romulus Backcountry campground. These campsites are only $12 a night per person, and can be booked on the Alberta Parks website. There are only 10 sites available, so booking ahead is crucial if you want to utilize this site. Camping in the mountains is not only aesthetically pleasing, but there are various hiking trails, and opportunities for bird and wildlife watching. The drive is about four hours long from Edmonton, and the best part is that it is close to Banff. To make a weekend trip out of it, I always like to camp for a night or two, and drive into Banff and visit the hot springs or get fondue at the Grizzly House to finish off the trip.

Now that we know about some of Alberta’s staple campsites, it’s important to have what we need for when we make the trip. Here are some items I recommend for those who are ready to hit the road for their next camping adventure:

A tent. Tents can range from $50 all the way up to $500. I found a decent tent on the Canadian Tire website that only cost $47, and it has lasted for a few years now. If you are only camping with one to three people, a smaller tent will suffice and be much cheaper in the end.

A cooler. Of course you will need to keep your food cold and in a safe place when you decide to take your trip. I bought mine from the Wal-Mart website, and the prices range from $19 to $100. Wal-Mart is the best place for a cooler purchase that won’t break the bank. Although these prices are cheaper, if you are planning on camping regularly or in an area far away from home, it’s a good idea to purchase a higher quality cooler. Some of the best coolers are the YETI coolers — they range from $300 to $500, and can be found at yeti.ca.

A sleeping bag. We need to stay warm at night and the Mountain Wearhouse website offers high-end sleeping bags at a discounted price. Princes range from $44 to $100, but I always recommend bringing extra blankets and pillows for warmth and comfort.

A backpack and water bottle. I can’t count how many times I’ve forgotten to bring a water bottle to a campsite. Make sure you stay hydrated, and bring a backpack with a portable charger, running shoes (or hiking shoes), and a first aid kit. All of these items can be found on the Amazon website for under $50 each.

Now that you have the essentials and a few ideas of where to travel, it’s time to start your camping adventure. Alberta has tons of campsites for those who want to stay close to home, experience hiking in the coulees, or soak up the fresh mountain air. To find more information on the camsites mentioned in this article or to explore new ones visit albertaparks.ca.

Graphic: Nawaal Basha

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