Random camping is no service camping. Here’s how to prepare before you go.

Photo of a canoe on a lake

Alberta’s summer season is short and sweet – which means we’re all the more eager to finally get outdoors when the sun starts shining. That can mean a lot of competition for trails and facilities.

Campsites can fill up quickly – and for some Albertans wanting to ‘get away from it all’, staying in a crowded campground isn’t what they have in mind. Many of these folks enjoy “no service camping” (often called random camping), out in Alberta’s backcountry.

This is ‘no service’ camping – no facilities, and often no ready assistance in case of emergency. That’s why it’s important to prepare before you go:

Photo of a washed out road

Last year’s floods washed out many backcountry roads in a matter of hours. Always check forecasts and prepare for emergency situations.

  • There’s safety in numbers: if you can, camp with a friend or a group – don’t go alone. Make sure you tell someone where you are going, your route, and when you plan on returning.
  • Carry emergency supplies with you. This guide has great tips for getting prepared.
  • Learn the signs of bear activity. Carry bear spray and know how to use it.

No service camping is free – but that doesn’t mean it’s a free for all. All campers must follow rules to protect our environment and keep things safe for others:

  • Make sure you camp at least one km from any backcountry facility or roadwayand at least 30 metres away from any watercourse to ensure your safety and the safety of the animals in the area.
  • Limit your stay to 14 days or less to allow vegetation to recover.
  • Re-use established campsites when you can and avoid pitching your tent on fragile surfaces.
  • If you’re camping on leased land, make sure you leave everything as you found it.
  • Keep your distance from wildlife and don’t feed them. Instead of picking flowers and cuttings, take a photo.
  • Keep your fire small and never leave it unattended. When extinguishing your fire, remember to soak, stir and soak again.
  • Pack out everything you have packed in, including garbage. Make sure to dispose of human waste properly.
Photo of garbage and an abandoned campsite.

If you pack it in, pack it out- camps that are abandoned (like this one by Brazeau Dam) impact the environment and wreck things for future campers.

Following these rules will keep getting back to basics in the backcountry safe and sustainable – for you and the environment.

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