Calgary

Options abound for winter camping in Alberta

You can enjoy all the wonders of being in nature during the cold months by planning ahead, and possibly avoiding a tent, says Chris Dodds.

Parks expert talks prepping for an excursion in the cold

You could park your tent in the snow, but there are other options available for those who want a winter camping excursion. (Clare Hennig/CBC)

If you want to go winter camping in Alberta, you've got options.

Chris Dodds with Cypress Hills Provincial Parks says winter is actually, "a great time to get outside."

"I do a lot of winter camping, I love getting outside in the winter whether it be in a cabin or a tent or a quinzee," he said on the Calgary Eyeopener.

Winter camping doesn't have to mean what most people imagine: a flimsy nylon tent covered in snow in the middle of the woods.

"There's a whole range of options," says Dodds.

Some parks in Alberta, for example Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park on an island north of Edmonton, and Cypress Hills Provincial Park in southeast Alberta have front-country cabins with luxuries like electric heaters and mattresses.

Guests need only bring small essentials like a sleeping bag, pots and pans and perhaps a travel gas stove, says Dodds.

"That way you can stay nice and toasty warm. As long as you exit those front doors, the opportunities are endless. There's all sorts of ways to have fun outside."

One of the cabins available to reserve in Cypress Hill Provincial Park. (Chris Dodds)

For those with trailers, Dodds recommends checking ahead with park officials before showing up to ensure the roads are open and conditions fare at the campsite.

He lists Miquelon Lake Provincial Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park and sites in Kananaskis for finding a spot to winter camp in the province.

When it comes to booking those spots, Dodds says it's always best to call ahead, although some places are first come first serve. As road conditions during winter vary greatly, it's best to check ahead about that too.

"It doesn't see as much business as it does in the summer so if it's just a regular campground and if it's open, the chances are you'll be able to get yourself a spot," he says.

With a temporary dwelling taken care off, Dodds says you can really lean into other ways to enjoy the snow.

Dodds points out the skating loop at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park and Cypress Hills. Cypress Hills also offers snow luge, snow shoeing, tobogganing and cross-country skiing.

"Opportunities are endless there's all sorts of ways to have fun outside," he says.

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