Plan your next adventure: Download Alberta’s Public Land Trail Guide.
Public Lands Camping Pass required
A Public Lands Camping Pass is required to random camp on public land along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
There are 18 Public Land Use Zones (PLUZs) in Alberta, covering approximately 11,200 square kilometres (4,324.34 square miles) of public land. Most PLUZs are found along the Eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains between the US border and Grande Cache, while two are in the Upper Athabasca Region. Every PLUZ in Alberta has regulations in place to guide use that are specific to that land base.
General regulations and guidelines
All Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ) users are responsible for knowing and following the rules of the area they are visiting. It is important to become familiar with the laws under the Public Land Administration Regulation (PLAR).
All visitors to a PLUZ must:
- obey signs, posted notices, department publications and the instructions of any Government of Alberta staff
- leave the land in a clean and tidy condition
- know and follow PLUZ regulations
- Select a PLUZ from the list at the top of this page to learn more about recreation opportunities and regulations for that area.
Fish and Wildlife Officers, RCMP, Conservation Officers, Sheriffs and municipal enforcement officers routinely patrol PLUZs to monitor compliance and ensure public safety and responsible recreation throughout the province. This work is a collaborative effort involving all levels of government.
Violations may include:
- Driving an Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) off the designated trail in a PLUZ
- driving an OHV or motor vehicle in the bed or shore of waterbodies
- Camping in one spot for longer than 14 days or not moving camping unit 1km for at least 72 hours after 14 day stay.
- disobeying a sign and/or notice
Users who are not complying with rules on public land can be directed to leave public land, issued a violation ticket, issued a summons to appear in court, or have their personal property and vehicle.
Learn more about Public Land Enforcement.
Recreation in PLUZs
Anyone recreating within a PLUZ is responsible for protecting themselves, other users, the trails and the land.
Know before you go
Make time ahead of any outdoor adventure to plan ahead and prepare. Following a few simple steps can help ensure you have fun and stay safe so you can enjoy the great outdoors.
- Choose a trail that matches the skill and abilities of your group.
- Check for area and trail closures at Public land closures – Overview.
- Know the rules of the trail or area you are visiting, and for your planned activities.
- Know the terrain and plan for natural hazards and potential emergencies.
- Check the forecast and be prepared for all weather conditions.
- Check the Alberta Fire Bans website for current alerts and advisories.
- Assign someone to be your emergency contact. Let them know where you are going and when you will return. Let your emergency contact know to contact the RCMP if you miss your return check-in.
- Go prepared. Carry extra food and water, warm clothing, a waterproof layer and a first aid kit.
- Only travel on trails or in areas that are open and permit your recreation activity.
- The area you are visiting may not have cell coverage. Carry a satellite communications device (if you have one) and a current map.
- Be BearSmart. Carry bear spray year-round and within reach. Learn more about bear safety at Alberta BearSmart.
- Respect wildlife, and never approach or feed them.
PLUZ User Etiquette
- Respect the land by leaving it in a better condition than you found it.
- Avoid travel through wet or sensitive areas whenever possible. Most trail damage occurs after rainfall and snowmelt when trails are wet and soft.
- Leave all gates and fences as you found them, open or closed.
- Respect other users and share the trail. Motorized users should yield to non-motorized users like hikers and cyclists, and all users should yield to equestrian users.
- Slow down when passing other users. If there is a group of you, hold up the number of fingers to indicate how many are in your group.
- If marking your route, do not mark or blaze your trail with axes or paint. If using flagging, remove it when you leave.
Recreation management in PLUZs
Sustainable Trail Management
The Trails Act marks a new approach to managing trails on Alberta’s public lands to ensure sustainable use and enjoyment for all users.
The Trails Act provides guidance and structure for trail use in our province’s growing recreation and tourism sector, allowing for better trail experiences for Albertans by ensuring high quality, well managed and safe designated trails. For full details, see: Sustainable trail management.
Developing and managing trails and sites
The Alberta government strongly values the assistance of volunteers and user groups that promote responsible recreation and who develop, maintain and rehabilitate recreation trails and sites on public lands.
Trail development requirements
The development (example: mountain bike technical trail features), maintenance or rehabilitation of recreation resources on public land requires prior approval by Environment and Protected Areas (EPA).
Failure to contact EPA before commencing the work is in contravention of the Public Lands Act and could lead to enforcement actions.
Recreation Structures in PLUZ
Structures and improvements to any public land, including land within a Public Land Use Zone must be approved by the province. Failure to obtain departmental approval can result in enforcement actions.
Industrial Activity in PLUZ
Industry operates under the existing regulatory framework that applies to all public land, including PLUZs.
This means that proposals for industrial development and activities within PLUZs are evaluated through a review and approval processes that exist for all public land.
Where there is a provincial trail within a PLUZ, authorization is required to use motorized vehicles where the use is otherwise prohibited and there are regulatory requirements in the event of trail damage caused by commercial activity.
Connect with us if you wish to develop, take over the maintenance, or reclaim any recreation infrastructure or impacted areas on public lands:
Report unlawful activity or safety issues on public land or Provincial Parks:
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