With the mountains to the west, hoodoos to the east and a whole lot of cowboy land in between, there’s no question that the “C” in Calgary stands for camping. Summer just isn’t the same if you haven’t had the chance to pitch a tent, glory at the stars in the sky or simply sit by the campfire as a family. The best part? These family-friendly campsites are all “mom approved” and more importantly, ready to be filled with memories you won’t want to miss.
Lower Kananaskis Lake | albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis
In no time at all, families can be nestled next to nature, but with amenities that make camping with kids a pleasant experience. Think: play equipment, picnic tables along the lake and paved bike pathways. With 95 sites that are appropriate for both RVs or tents, the campground also has firepits, pit/vault toilets, and water pumps and taps. Be sure to note the current fire ban regulations, however.
oTENTiks | pc.gc.ca/en
Looking for more of a “glamping” experience than a camping experience? Now you can thanks to oTENTiks – part tent, part cabin. With space for up to six people, oTENTiks include beds, bunkbeds, BBQ, heat and lights. All you need to do is bring your food, cooking equipment, sleeping bags and water. Available nationally, oTENTiks can be reserved online and while they are exceptionally popular, there are still options available. Perfect for people who want comfort in their camping.
Chain Lakes Provincial Park | albertaparks.ca/chain-lakes-pp
With a beach and the ability to accommodate both sail and powerboats, families who like to get wet will find plenty of options here. Be sure to bring your sand castle tools for building on the beach. Note that due to the dryness of the region, fire pits are communal, with firewood supplied at no extra cost.
Two Jack Main Campground | pc.gc.ca/en/twojack1
No gear? Not to worry, Banff National Park has 10 equipped campsites at Two Jack Main Campground. The campsites come with a tent, sleeping pad, cookstove and lantern all set up for you courtesy of Parks Canada. Be sure to reserve in advance, however. For those who prefer a more rustic experience, there are sites for tents and RVs, and designated loops for food lockers, however note that there’s a maximum of six people permitted per site. Washrooms have hot and cold water, and flush toilets.
Mount Kidd | mountkiddrv.com
Looking to camp outside of the summer season? Mount Kidd is open year round, with 229 campsites to accommodate RVs and tents. It is loved for its size, playgrounds, and many amenities, and as a consequence is extremely popular, and fills up fast. Close to Calgary, Mount Kidd is sure to please all ages thanks to the amphitheatre, tennis courts, wading pool, on-site store, showers and much more. Be sure to bring your bikes or hiking shoes to take advantage of the beautiful pathways. If you’ve got golfers in the family, note that the Kananaskis Country Golf Course is nearby.
McLean Creek | albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis/mclean-creek
Get your quad fix on at McLean Creek! With access to OHV trails, it’s a great spot in summer and winter (for those who love ATVs and snowmobiles). If you’ve got BMXers in the house, it’s also a great spot for dirt bikes from May to November. Just note that you’ll need to bring your own generator and water!
Sandy McNabb | albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis/sandy-mcnabb
Lots of horsin’ around at Sandy McNabb in the summer! With lots of equestrian trails, this campground is ideal for those who want to get some riding in. With over 100 treed sites for RVs and tents, there are also great hiking and mountain biking trails in the area. We say yee-haw!
George Lane Memorial Campground | georgelanecampground.ca
If you’re looking for a spot close to home, or an intro to camping with your smallest set, George Lane is conveniently close to Calgary, and within walking distance of the downtown district of High River. With 57 campsites, power stations, clean showers and a huge park for the kids, there are also opportunities to swim, tube, kayak and fish on the Highwood River. It’s an ideal spot if you’re looking to get away without a lot of travel, and with the convenience of a town within walking distance.
Bow Valley Provincial Park | albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis/bow-valley-pp
Again, if you’re hoping for an escape closer to home, Bow Valley Provincial Park is a good spot to park your trailer. Just east of Canmore, the campground offers interpretive programs, has a concession and playground, and has bike rentals and canoeing outfitters. Bring the bikes and take advantage of the paved paths along the river.
Dinosaur Provincial Park | albertaparks.ca/dinosaur
Kids and dinosaurs go together like peanut butter and jam: this campground is a guaranteed win with the small set. This world heritage site boasts extensive dinosaur fossil fields, a convenience store, shower and laundry facilities, plus guided walks in the hoodoos. There are regular sites, as well as the opportunity for “comfort camping”: there are seven cabin-like tents with beds, a refrigerator and other amenities. Talk about taking camping out of the Jurassic era!
Old Macdonald’s Farm | olmacdonalds.com
E-I-E-I-Oh boy, this spot is a popular one. Kids will love staying on the farm where they can explore the many parks, the petting zoo, the merry-go-round ride, mini train, candy store, wagon rides, mini-golf and more. Parents will love taking advantage of the coffee shop and free wireless Internet! There’s even a shallow lake that’s ideal for little swimmers, and the chance to rent bikes. You’ll have to book a year in advance, however you are not charged until a week before arriving.