Classic Camping in the Crown; SW Alberta's Provincial Parks and Provincial Recreation Areas

Remembering the days of tents, backpacks with external frames, and pet rocks may be difficult for some, but those die hard campers who refused to cook on anything other than a fire, use a generator or pull a trailer that is newer than 1970 and larger than a Boler, are the people who inspire this generation of “Classic Campers”.

Today’s classic camper is the one who seeks out campsites that are tent friendly, level, more dirt than rock, nicely tucked away in the forest and wonderfully positioned in a cell phone free zone.  No need for hook ups or power; the classic camp is usually a short walk to a well maintained outhouse and a water hydrant. 

Why?  Is it a trip down memory lane?  Does it connect you with nature more effectively?  Is it the simplicity?  These questions and more have to be answered individually. The classic camper can be thoughtful about why, as they sit by the campfire with others, telling stories and reflecting on life.

Classic Camping is an outdoor recreational activity. The participants (known as classic campers) leave urban areas, their home region, or civilization and enjoy nature while spending one or several nights outdoors, usually at a campsite. Classic camping involves the use of a tent, a small, older trailer, or no shelter at all. Camping as a recreational activity became popular in the early 20th century. Classic campers frequent national or provincial parks, other publicly owned natural areas, or privately owned campgrounds that offer out of the way, wilderness experiences.

the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Heidi Eijgel

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Classic campers are folks who enjoy traveling in small groups, their tents may appear worn, but are actually well taken care of, often patched and also well used. The hiking boots are lined up with wool socks hung drying over each just inside the vestibule every night. Almost every classic camper knows what a vestibule is. You might spot the classic camper and their family in SW Alberta at Beauvais Lake Provincial Park; rarer glimpses may occur at Police Outpost Provincial Park. Families can receive a good dose of classic camping experience at Castle Falls and Lundbreck Falls Provincial Recreation Areas, without making the full commitment of a considerable drive from the main road.

Best Time to Go

Classic campers tend to find places to camp where only other classic campers may venture during odd times of year. You will run into classic campers during the winter as they have no problem pitching tent on a nice level patch of snow in their favorite campground that may still offer a ploughed way in to a few open sites. They simply dress for the experience, bring lots of firewood and check the cross country ski trail reports before heading out! They may also park the Boler at Chain Lakes Provincial Park in January complete with the 4 season sleeping bag and ice fishing equipment. In the summer, classic campers adjust and find more out of the way campsites or may even traceless camp in the back country where it is permitted. They are also the first to arrive in a campsite, usually on a weekday, just as the birds are migrating back north. And again the last to camp in the fall after the migrating birds have already left!

Driving Directions from Nearest Town or Landmark

You can obtain driving directions on the maps supporting each campground in Provincial Parks and Recreation Areas on the Alberta Parks website.

Classic campers usually find out about unique and interesting camping opportunities from other classic campers.  They also do the research and find that for SW Alberta a one stop shop for classic camping is www.albertaparks.ca.  Here you can search for a campsite, discover the rules ahead of time, look for first come first serve camping and print out hot tips on backcountry camping and trail maps!  They may find some amazing basic tenting spots that you can reserve by registering on reserve.albertaparks.ca and doing the search.  

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Contact Information

Alberta Parks
1-403-382-4097
Pincher Creek District Office
Box 1810
Pincher Creek, AB ToK 1W0 CA
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