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Your Guide to Boondocking or ‘Random Camping’ in Alberta

So, you’re looking for a more laid-back camping experience? Boondocking, or “random camping,” might be just the thing. Here’s what you need to know.
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Winter boondocking can be an option to keep your RV excursions going by staying on public crown land with a Public Lands Camping Pass.

If you’re planning on spending a lot of time camping in the near future, you may have noticed that campgrounds are getting pretty pricey. If you’re living on the road, travelling for an extended period, or simply looking to go camping on a budget, you’ll be happy to learn that you’ve got many options. Have you heard of a little something called boondocking? Well, not you have! Let’s dive in.

What is Boondocking?

Boondocking means a few different things. To RVers, it means self-sufficient camping. Therefore, it’s camping without hookups to water, sewer, or electricity hookups like many campsites have. Another form of boondocking is utilizing any and all free camping opportunities you can find. If you’re hoping to camp without breaking the bank and test your self-sufficient living skills, boondocking is a great way. Today we’re going to focus on free camping and how you can find it in Alberta. Boondocking is also referred to as random camping, dispersed camping, or crown land camping. Now that you know what it is let’s talk about how to do it.

How to Boondock in Alberta

Before random camping in Alberta, you must buy the Public Land Camping Pass. We know what you’re thinking: “That isn’t free,” but you’ll find that it’s far more affordable than your other options. The Public Lands Camping Pass is $20 per person for three days or $30 per person for an entire year. This pass is required to camp on public lands in Alberta. Once you’ve got your pass, you can check out the maps to get a feel for where you’re allowed to camp. There are different versions of the map for various times of the year, so check back before each trip.

Some public lands under the permitted areas fall under agriculture dispositions. Alberta Parks notes that you should contact the leaseholder to ask for their permission in these cases.

Where to Boondock in Alberta

Alberta has tons of crown land. You’ll find that most of it is located in Northern Alberta, but that’s not to say that you can’t find a little slice of public land in the Southern parts of the province, too. The Public Lands Camping Pass covers a huge chunk of the province, so you’ll have no problem finding somewhere to park.

If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you may look outside of Alberta. There are tons of opportunities to camp for free in other provinces. Just be sure to research the regulations and permitting before setting off.

Things to Keep in Mind

It’s a good idea to plan while you’ve got internet. Crown land can be out of phone service, so you don’t want to get lost or without a pass, once you’ve left service. You can even buy the pass and save some maps so you have something to fall back on if you get off track.

Always look up the regulations in different places and be sure you’re actually on public land. Trespassing can get you in a lot of trouble and can be dangerous, so take good care when you're navigating to your camping spot.

Be careful! This type of land often isn’t maintained or well-marked. Be aware of your surroundings and take precautions as you park, set up, and walk around.

Have fun, be safe, and do your research, folks!

This story is brought to you by Great West Media Content Studio. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.