Few people have explored Nordegg and the David Thompson region as much as we have. Every year, we find ourselves back in this mountain paradise to experience more adventure, whether that’s a gentle float down the North Saskatchewan River or an adrenaline-pumping climb up the steepest Via Ferrata in the province.
We know Nordegg very well and that’s because we love it so much. Sandwiched in-between famous destinations like Banff and Jasper, Nordegg and David Thompson Country offer similar mountain adventures with much, much, much fewer crowds.
However, despite the lack of crowds, there aren’t a lot of accommodation options in Nordegg. There are some lovely Nordegg cabins, such as Expanse Cottages and Nature’s Getaway, and there are hotels in nearby Rocky Mountain House, but when it comes to the rugged expanse of David Thompson Country, there are not many places to rest your head.
This is where camping in Nordegg and the surrounding region come in handy. Whether you have a tent or an RV, there are both paid and almost-free options for Nordegg camping. In this guide to camping in Nordegg, we’ll fill you in on all the possibilities.
Table of Contents
Different Styles of Camping in Nordegg and David Thompson Country
As mentioned earlier, Nordegg and the entire David Thompson Country region are located on the Western side of Alberta, sandwiched in-between some of the most famous Alberta road trips and destinations in the province, including Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, the Icefields Parkway, and Cowboy Trail.
This area is known for outdoor adventure, beautiful Abraham Lake, the Rocky Mountains, and so much more. Nordegg is usually known more so than David Thompson Country, simply because it’s the main little town that’s right in the middle of it all. However, many people enter via Rocky Mountain House on the east or from the Icefields Parkway on the west. The main highway cutting through the region is Highway 11 but there are also very adventurous Forestry Trunk dirt roads that can get you here as well, including the one that goes by beautiful Ram Falls Provincial Park.
There are a number of different options for camping in this part of the province, such as:
RV Parks: Many Nordegg campsites are available for both RVs and tents but a true RV Park offers better amenities for RVs. For example, David Thompson Resort (power, water and sewer) and Fish Lake (power only) are the only campgrounds in the region with serviced sites.
Provincial Campgrounds: These types of campgrounds are managed by the province of Alberta. There are many provincial campgrounds in David Thompson Country. If you see “PRA”, it stands for “Provincial Recreation Area”, which are campgrounds and day-use areas managed by Alberta Parks. To make things slightly more confusing, many of the provincial campgrounds around Nordegg are operated by Westward Bound Campgrounds and cannot be reserved. If firewood is not provided at your campground, it can be purchased at the Bear Essentials Store 6 kilometres west of Nordegg.
Group Campgrounds: These types of campgrounds are dedicated to bigger groups. There are three in David Thompson Country and they are managed by Alberta Parks as well. Reservations are required and typically you need to book a minimum of 5 units.
Private Campgrounds: These campgrounds are owned privately. Basically, they are similar to other campgrounds but not managed b the government. Sometimes, these campgrounds offer more amenities.
“Free” Random Camping: Also known as crown land camping or boondocking, these are basic sites that have no fee. However, a Public Lands Camping Pass is now required and costs $30 per person per year. They often have no services but sometimes have pit toilets and garbage bins. These are always first-come-first-served.
Backcountry Camping: Unlike the other campgrounds where you can comfortably pull up in a vehicle, backcountry camping required hours of hiking. Everything you bring in and out will be on your back. You will be much more secluded and be much more in the wilderness. This type of camping takes more preparation and you should know what you’re getting into prior to departing.
Nordegg Campsites (Nordegg Camping Close to Town)
Since this article is focused on both Nordegg camping and camping within David Thompson Country, we’d like to start by focusing on campgrounds that are close to the town of Nordegg. There are many options and since you’re not far from town, it can be more convenient for some people.
Fish Lake Campground
With 81 non-serviced sites and 24 with power, Fish Lake Campground is one of the larger campgrounds in the Nordegg area. Located only 6 kilometres west of Nordegg, along the David Thompson Highway on Shunda Lake, campers will find outhouses, pump water (for water jugs only), a floating dock, and plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating.
Reservations are required as there are no first-come, first-served sites. Click here to learn more about Fish Lake Campground.
Goldeye Lake Campground
Located only 8 kilometres west of Nordegg and home to 44 non-serviced sites, Goldeye Lake Campground is another excellent option. This lake is a wonderful spot to go canoeing, swimming, fishing, or even hiking on the loop that circles the lake. Fishers will find stocked Rainbow Trout and campers will find pump water, fire pits outhouses, and picnic tables.
Unlike Fish Lake Campground, there are no reservable sites here. Everything is first-come-first-served, so get here early! Click here to learn more about Goldeye Lake Campground.
Dry Haven Campground
With only 14 non-serviced sites, this is one of the smaller Nordegg campsites but is a great way to get away from others and feel more in nature. Dry Haven Campground is only 11 kilometres west of Nordegg and has amenities such as outhouses, a wood stove, and hiking trail access.
Campers will also find picnic tables, fire pits, and gravel pads. This campsite is only first-come-first-served, so get here early. Click here to learn more about Dry Haven Campground.
With 17 non-serviced sites, this small campground is a great spot to nab if you’re looking to stay along Shunda Creek. It’s only 13 kilometres east of Nordegg and offers pump water, fire pits, outhouses, and access to hiking and ATV trails.
Harlech Campground is first-come-first-served, so as long as you arrive early, you’ll have a chance at snagging a spot. Click here to learn more about Harlech Campground.
Located only 5 kilometres east of Nordegg, Beaverdam Campground features 11 non-serviced sites (8 tent sites and 3 RV sites) along with outhouses, a boat launch, and plenty of hiking and ATV trails nearby. This campground is first-come-first-served so get here early to have a better chance at finding a spot. Click here to learn more about Beaverdam Campground.
Shunda Viewpoint Group Use Site
If you’re looking for a group-use site, it’s hard to beat Shunda Viewpoint. Located approximately 26 kilometres west of Nordegg, this campground features picnic tables and outhouses, along with beautiful panoramic views of Mount Brazeau and the North Saskatchewan River Valley. There’s also access to hiking and ATV Trails, and contrary to many other Nordegg camping spots, this one must be reserved. Click here to learn more about Shunda Viewpoint Group Use Site.
Snow Creek Group Use Camping
Another great campsite for those wanting to group-camp is Snow Creek, which features 30 non-serviced group camping sites just 17 kilometres west of Nordegg. Campers will be pleased to find pump water, horseshoe pits, outhouses, and an enclosed shelter with a stove. There’s also a small creek that runs near the campground and has access to hiking and ATV trails. This site must also be reserved online. Click here to learn more about Snow Creek Group Use Camping.
Upper Shunda Creek Campground
One of the most popular Nordegg camping spots is the Upper Shunda Creek Campground, a private campground that has options for tents, RVs, and big rigs. Each site has a picnic table and a fire pit, and amenities include clean outhouses, firewood for purchase, and even an on-site store. This campground is also conveniently located close to most of the cabin-stay options in the region and just takes only a few minutes to drive from Nordegg, which has some options for food, gas, and more. This campground needs to be booked in advance and is open from May 1st until September 30th. Click here to learn more about Upper Shunda Creek Campground.
Abraham Lake Camping (Just Beyond Camping in Nordegg)
One of the most famous attractions in David Thompson Country is Abraham Lake, which is roughly 40 km west of Nordegg. It’s a stunning turquoise-coloured lake that is nestled right into the David Thompson Highway and is also popular in the winter for its ice bubbles. Although this may still be considered Nordegg Camping, it’s a little further away. If you’re looking to be closer to Abraham Lake and other nearby attractions such as Crescent Falls, Siffleur Falls, and anything in-between Abraham Lake and the North Saskatchewan River Crossing, this section is for you.
Free Abraham Lake Camping
While not exactly free anymore as you need a Public Lands Camping Pass ($30 per person per year), this is still as cheap as it gets. When you drive around Abraham Lake, you’ll notice many camping sites. All of these are part of the Kiska/Wilson PLUZ area. There are no reservations and practically no services. To learn more, scroll down to our section on Crown Land Camping.
Thompson Creek Campground
If you’re keen on getting further away from Nordegg, Thompson Creek Campground is a solid option. Located roughly 76 kilometres from town, this campground is popular for fishing, hiking, biking, and canoeing for those comfortable on rivers. There are 55 non-serviced sites and it is also first-come, first-served. Click here to learn more about Thompson Creek Campground.
Two O’Clock Creek Campground
Despite the fun name, this campground is first-come-first-served, so we definitely recommend getting here prior to two o’clock. After all, this 22 non-serviced sites campground is popular in all seasons, with opportunities to go biking, hiking, rock climbing, ice climbing, and cross country skiing. Two O’Clock Creek Campground can be found 64 kilometres west of Nordegg. Click here to learn more about Two O’Clock Creek Campground.
Crescent Falls Campground
With Crescent Falls being one of the top attractions in David Thompson Country, it should come as no surprise that the campground is also extremely popular. Located roughly 27 kilometres west of Nordegg, all 31 non-serviced sites are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
However, despite its prime location and popularity, its location can be a little bit tricky. The campground is at the bottom of the hill and vehicles need to cross a creek to get there. You can see us do this in our video with the Toyota Tundra, but it might not be possible for smaller vehicles.
Either way, get here early if you do want the opportunity to spend the night. Click here to learn more about Crescent Falls Campground.
With a whopping seven non-serviced tent sites and two non-serviced RV sites, Saunders Campground is definitely one of the smallest campgrounds in the region. However, it’s a very scenic place next to the North Saskatchewan River with opportunities to go fishing, canoeing, or hiking. Located roughly 30 kilometres east of Nordegg, the campsite features a boat launch, fire pits, and outhouses. As with most camping in Nordegg, this campground is first-come-first-served. Click here to learn more about Saunders Campground.
Cavalcade Group Campground
Another great group campground is Cavalcade, which is home to eight non-serviced group sites in the beautiful Kootenay Plains. Each site has pump water, fire pits, and picnic tables, while sites 1, 4, 5, and 7 have camp shelters. This campground is located 64 kilometres west of Nordegg and offers access to the stunning Siffleaur Falls and other popular hikes. Like all group sites, this one must be reserved online or by phone. Click here to learn more about Cavalcade Group Campground.
David Thompson Resort
As you may have guessed from the name, David Thompson Resort is more than just a campground. It’s also a resort with hotel rooms, cabins, and a campground with sites for both tents and RVs. It’s also located in a prime area, just minutes from Whitegoat Lakes, Abraham Lake, and Rockies Heli, in case you’re looking to get up into the sky for some of the best views on Earth. It’s also directly across the highway from McKenzie’s Trails West, which offers horseback trail rides.
But wait, there’s more. There’s also a Ful Service Restaurant and Bar, mini-golf and playground, a wedding chapel, a convenience store, fuel, laundromat, ATM machine, full-service washrooms and showers, and even limited internet service. Click here to learn more about David Thompson Resort.
Nordegg Campsites (Further From Town)
As such a big area, there are so many campgrounds to choose from. So far, we’ve gone over camping in Nordegg or nearby as well as Abraham Lake camping, but now we’re going to go over some other options that are a little further from both Abraham Lake and the town of Nordegg. Whatever you choose, you’re always within a 1-hour drive of Nordegg and/or Abraham Lake.
Ram Falls Provincial Park
When it comes to waterfalls in Alberta, it’s hard to beat Ram Falls. We always try to make it here when we visit Nordegg despite it being a bit of a slog to get there. However, it’s much better to spend a night or two. Located just over an hour’s drive from Nordegg (64 km), all on a dirt road, this campground has 54 non-serviced sites, along with fire pits, vault toilets, and pump water. As mentioned, you’ll drive an hour one way on a dirt road to get here, so just know that your car will be filthy dirty. But the waterfall alone is worth the trip! If you’re lucky, you may even spot bighorn sheep. Click here to learn more about Ram Falls Provincial Park.
Outwest Camping & RV Park
private: Although this campground is significantly further away from Nordegg and David Thompson Highway attractions, we still wanted to list this campground due to its popularity with RVs. If you have an RV, this might be a good option as it’s home to more than 100 huge drive-through sites with lots of amenities, including flush toilets, hot showers, a laundry room, and more. Click here to learn more about Outwest Camping & RV Park.
Centennial Park Campground
This campground is actually located in Rocky Mountain House, providing easy access to all the amenities you might need, including grocery stores and restaurants. It’s a one-hour drive to get to Nordegg and about 1.5 hours to get to Abraham Lake, but depending on what your goals are, it might be a good option.
Centennial Park Campground offers both unserviced and powered sites, as well as fire pits, showers, and indoor washrooms. This campground needs to be booked in advance. Click here to learn more.
Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site
It’s not too often you have the opportunity to camp within a National Historic Site, but in Rocky Mountain House, it’s actually a great option to go camping. We’ve actually stayed here with our parents and it was such a great experience because there are a number of options for all camper types. There’s the option of pitching a tent, Equipped Camping (they provide the camping materials), or partaking in one of the many Heritage Camping options, including staying in Métis Trapper Tents, Tipis, or Trapline Cabins. When we visited, we stayed in Métis Trapper Tents, which includes a Fur Trade Camp Kit stocked with bison hide, a period cooking kit and utensils, a blow tube and flint/steel fire-starting kit, bannock mix, trapper’s tea, spices, oil, and soap. It was such a cool experience and the campground is located right next to the North Saskatchewan River and is within walking distance of the historic site, which used to be a fur trading post. Highly recommended!
Free Crown Land Camping in Nordegg
If you’re looking to camp for almost free, you’ll want to camp on crown land. Also known as “random” camping or “boondocking”, crown land is basically public land (aka “PLUZ”, which means Public Land Use Zones) and has no daily or nightly fees associated with it. However, due to some issues caused by certain campers over the last few years, a fee has been brought in to help deal with garbage and sewage.
Before camping in these locations, you’ll want to buy a Public Lands Parking Pass, which costs $20 per person for 3 days or $30 per person for an annual pass. You can purchase your pass online here.
Here are some spots for crown land camping near Nordegg and Abraham Lake.
Kiska/Wilson PLUZ (Abraham Lake)
By far one of the most popular places for crown land Nordegg camping is the Kiska/Wilson PLUZ zone, which covers the area along the David Thompson Highway, Abraham Lake, and Nordegg. When you explore Abraham Lake, you’ll see lots of people camping, and this is what the area is called. There are lots of options for pitching a tent or pulling up in an RV (though do keep in mind there are no services), and lots of opportunities for activities, such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and more. As with all the other PLUZ areas mentioned, camping is permitted as long as you camp at least 100 metres from lakeshores and at least one kilometre from a PLRA or PRA.
Blackstone Wapiabi PLUZ
Located north of Nordegg and Highway 11 on Forestry Truck Road, the Blackstone Wapiabi PLUZ area is a popular place for camping year-round. It’s a big area with more than 500 kilometres of nature and is great for hiking, horseback riding, and even cross-country skiing. Campsites must be at least 100 metres from a lakeshore, and no campsites or fires are permitted within one km of a Public Land Recreation Area or Public Recreation Area.
With more than 1,400 square kilometres of backcountry wilderness, the Job/Cline PLUZ area is a great place for camping, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and snowmobiling. It’s sandwiched in-between the White Goat Wildnerness area, the Blackstone Wapiabi PlUZ, David Thompson Highway, and Jasper National Park, so there’s no shortage of jaw-dropping scenery to explore.
Backcountry Camping in Nordegg
If you’re not sure what backcountry camping means, it involved having to hike, bike, or take a horseback ride to be able to camp away from vehicles and lots of people. It’s much more of a wilderness experience and is not a place you can take a vehicle. However, for those wanting to try it out, there are a number of places in the area. However, if you’re new to it, we recommend learning what it’s all about first.
White Goat Wilderness Area
If you’re keen on hiking for a few hours to pitch a tent, the White Goat Wilderness Area is a great option. Surrounded by mountain peaks and forests, it’s a lovely place to get away from it all. You’ll want to start from the junction of the David Thompson Highway and the Cline River, which is east of Nordegg.
Siffleur Wilderness Area
Located in the Canadian Rockies, this area is full of incredible mountain peaks, alpine lakes, and meadows filled with wildflowers.
The trail to get here starts at the Siffleur Falls staging area, which is approximately 65 km from Nordegg. You’ll hike for quite some time along the North Saskatchewan River until you reach the areas permitted for backcountry camping.
Nordegg Travel Videos
As mentioned earlier in the article, we’re no strangers to the David Thompson region. We visit every year and have tried most of the top things you can do, including mountain climbing, canoeing, rafting, hiking, and more. If you’d like to get a taste of what Nordegg and David Thompson Country has to offer, check out our videos below.
Explore More of Alberta
As much as we love David Thompson Country, there’s so much more to Alberta. From badlands to foothills to mountains and cities, Alberta is one of the top provinces in Canada when it comes to travel. For more information, check out our guides below: