Camping in Calgary

Camping in Calgary has always been popular with visitors to our fair city. In addition to travelers, camping is a favourite family activity for locals. With travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic, locals are choosing getaways and vacation options close to home this year.

Even before the pandemic we were seeing a rise in popularity. There are many reasons for this:

  • Affordable
  • Family tradition
  • Experience the outdoors
  • Explore nature
  • Improve physical and mental health
  • Disconnect from technology
  • Family bonding

The popularity of the activity is increasing and a recent study found that Millennials are embracing this and now comprise 40% of people who camp.

Brief History

Two families came together to create and grow this campground into what it has become today. We are now in our second generation running operations. Over the years we have seen a great deal of change. In the early days people arrived in the family car and pitched a tent. It was a very simple pleasure for simpler times. Over the years camping has evolved and today families are less likely to arrive with a tent. In fact, at present health authority protocols only allow campers that have a self contained RV. When restrictions are lifted, we expect purists and young families will return with their tents

Calgary Campgrounds

Over the years several campgrounds that were within the Calgary city limits have disappeared. This is a natural evolution and not unique to our city. A campground can have a large footprint and as a community evolves the land is acquired by developers. Another factor locally is a City of Calgary bylaw which restricts open fires. Most campers feel sitting around the campfire is a highlight of the experience.

Still Many Options for Campers

Today there is only one campground remaining within the city limits. Fortunately there are still many campsite options, including Riverbend Campground, just a short drive from the city. Options range from privately owned campgrounds like ours to properties operated by municipalities or service clubs. Municipal campgrounds tend to be smaller. As an example, the Turner Valley Municipal Campground 28 kilometres to the west of us has just 22 sites.

Close to Calgary Attractions

If you are traveling to the Calgary area and plan to experience the area attractions, Riverbend Campground is an excellent choice. From your home base here you can just relax or discover a different adventure every day. The city is famous for the Calgary Stampede which happens for ten days in early July, Due to the pandemic the Stampede has been cancelled this year. This is a major happening as the event has an attendance of over a million visitors. Beyond the Stampede, there are things to see and do all summer long. For a taste of attractions visit our “Things to do in Calgary Area” page.

Fly fishing on the Bow River with the Calgary skyline in the background. Photo by Philippe Clairo

More Reasons to Stay

Beyond the city there is so much to see and do from the wonders of nature which we have in abundance to historic sites and attractions. As locals we realized we are blessed to live here and are happy to share our knowledge of popular attractions as well as some lesser known spots you might enjoy.

Choosing a Family Campground in Southern Alberta

Mini Golf

The Love of Camping

Spending a day, a weekend or longer in a family campground in Southern Alberta is great fun. What is it about camping that makes it so eagerly anticipated? We think it can boiled down to essentials which hold true whether you are sleeping in a tent or travelling in a Class-A motor home. It’s an escape from the rat race, it’s a chance to get closer to nature, and it’s participating in an activity as a family. Most camping enthusiasts would also add their love of sitting around a campfire to the list. There is no doubt a lot of people love camping and it’s popularity is growing. You can find most of these essentials at any campground, so when choosing a family campground here is a brief list of things to consider.

Location

Travelling to your campsite is an opportunity to enjoy some scenery but the fun of camping happens after you arrive and get set up. If you are doing a weekend camping trip, choosing a campground that is closer to home means the fun begins sooner. Closer also means lower fuel costs.

Being close to an urban communities like Okotoks, and Calgary, which are on our door step, means you have access to attractions, shopping and dining. Tourism Calgary’s website which you will find here is a great place to start. For information on our region just south of Calgary access the Foothill Tourism Association website found here. If you were not planning on venturing anywhere but you end up with a rainy day read our blog post about some of the things to see and do in Okotoks. Riverbend Campground is on the eastern edge of town which means getting there doesn’t take much planning.

This is the Alberta prairies, and in this region, it makes good sense to choose a campground on a river. As a rule, campgrounds in the mountains are heavily treed. On the prairies, river valleys are the only habitat with enough groundwater to sustain tree growth. A mature trees canopy, provides shade, is generally cooler on hot dry summer days and is more aesthetically pleasing.

Choosing a campground on decent roads and near major transportation corridors means travel to and from the campground is convenient. It does help to be a little distance from main roads for less traffic noise.

Types of Sites

Some family campgrounds in Southern Alberta are designed with every site pretty much the same as every other, laid out like lots in an urban community. The natural setting of the Riverbend property means irregular sites so a wide variety of sites are available. Tenting sites tend to be in well treed areas within a short walk of the washrooms. RV sites are mostly back-in with some pull through sites. Most RV sites are power/water/sewer, with some power/water only. Electrical service is either 30 or 50 amps. Information on rates for the various types of sites can be found here.

Amenities

It makes good sense to choose a campground that has well maintained amenities. Clean modern washrooms are high on most people’s list. If you have been on the road for a while or you are travelling with kids, laundry can pile up. Riverbend has laundry facilities in two locations in the campground. Speaking of children, keeping them occupied can sometimes be a challenge. Riverbend has playgrounds throughout the property. Kids also love the 18-hole miniature golf course located across from our general store. Mom and Dad can take the kids for a tour around the pond on a paddle boat. This can be a work out and the family might want to relax over ice cream afterwards.

If you run out of the basics, like bread, milk and ice, or need propane or fire wood, staff at the office/general store are happy to help. Here you can also get information on walking the campground. There is a well established nature trail system at throughout Riverbend Campground.   The main camping areas around Riverbend are flat and very walkable. For the safety of all, especially children, the speed in the campground is 15 km/hr which is strictly enforced. It’s not uncommon for one of our seasonal campers to offer a reminder to a driver going a bit too fast.

Summary

When choosing a family campground in Southern Alberta, there may be times when you will choose a wilderness campground and there will be times when a campground close to a small community or urban center is a great choice. When choosing the latter, we hope you book your trip with Riverbend Campground.