New trail designations – Provincial trails

Know before you go. Review the regulations for recreation on provincial trails before heading out.

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.

General regulations and guidelines

Within a PLUZ:

  • Obey all posted signs and notices.
  • Trail designations indicate the maximum vehicle width accepted for trail sustainability. Vehicles the same width or smaller than those indicated are allowed.
  • Leave nothing behind. All waste including garbage, recycling, compost and human waste should be taken home or to a dump station for proper disposal.
  • If camping, limit your stay to no more than 14 days in the same location.  After 14 days, you must move a distance of at least 1km away for 72 hours.
  • Camping and open fires are not permitted within 1km of a public land recreation area or provincial recreation area located within a PLUZ.
  • Camping and fires are not permitted within 1km of a road within Kananaskis PLUZ, McLean Creek Off-Highway Vehicle PLUZ, Sibbald Snow Vehicle PLUZ, and Cataract Creek Snow Vehicle PLUZ.
  • Motorized vehicles are not permitted to leave the road other than to use trails designated for an off-highway vehicles (OHV) of a particular size or type.

Learn more about Enforcement on Public Land. It is the user’s responsibility to know and follow specific regulations for the PLUZ you are visiting and any recreational activities.

Each PLUZ may have conditions and regulations that are specific to that land base. Maps of the area provide information on designated trails, permitted activities and regulations for the PLUZ. Explore maps for all of Alberta’s PLUZs at - Public Land Use Zones – Overview.

Wildlife Management Units and PLUZs

Hunters are reminded that the boundaries of Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and PLUZs may overlap and all - or portions of - WMUs may have vehicle access restrictions.

On- and off-highway vehicle restrictions apply in all PLUZs and may limit:

  • vehicle type and size
  • trail access
  • seasons open to vehicle use

Frequently asked questions

  • Can I have a fire in a Public Land Use Zone?

    Yes. Responsible use of campfires for cooking or warming purposes is usually allowed.

    Campfires, in accordance with the Forest Prairie and Protection Act, are permitted within Public Land Use Zones (PLUZs). However, some PLUZs allow fires in designated camping areas only and/or have other restrictions. Please refer to the specific information provided for the PLUZ you will be visiting. For further information see Public Land Use Zones - Overview.

    Fires are not permitted when firebans are in effect. If available, use existing campfire facilities, portable camping stoves, or fire pits

  • What activities are allowed in Public Land Use Zones?

    In some Public Land Use Zones (PLUZs), motorized recreation is permitted.

    In other PLUZs, motorized activity is not permitted. In these locations, most non-motorized activities are permitted within PLUZs, in accordance with the regulation. Some of these activities include:

    • camping
    • canoeing
    • hiking
    • hunting
    • skiing

    Refer to the PLUZ you plan to visit for regulations regarding the activities that are and are not permitted. For further information see Public Land Use Zones - Overview.

  • Why is grazing and tethering of horses not allowed within 100 metres ( of lakes and streams in some of the Public Land Use Zones?

    This requirement prevents water contamination and erosion of shorelines caused by trampling and overgrazing.

    Equestrian users are encouraged to high-line their horses to prevent damage to roots.

  • Why are horse users required to provided their own feed in certain areas?

    Providing supplemental feed for horses prevents overgrazing and ensures adequate forage for wildlife.

    In addition, using weed-free feed helps to prevent the spread of noxious weeds.

  • What is being done to ensure the regulations in Public Land Use Zones are being followed?

    Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) staff engage recreationists through major community and recreation events to build understanding and awareness of PLUZ regulations and to encourage responsible use and stewardship.

    Staff routinely patrol PLUZs to monitor compliance and provide information to users about responsible recreation.

    AEP Officers partner with RCMP, Conservation Officers, Sheriffs and municipal enforcement officers to ensure public safety and responsible recreation throughout the province.

    During peak periods, such as the May and September long weekends, additional resources are brought in through collaborative efforts with other departments and the RCMP.

  • What if recreationists ignore the regulations?

    The Public Lands Administration Regulation enables law enforcement officers to issue tickets and/or require a court appearance for contravention of the regulations. Non-compliance may result in fines of up to $1000 per violation.

    If you see activities that are not in alignment with the regulation of a PLUZ please contact the local AEP office.

    Lead by example and encourage others to recreate responsibly.

  • Are there exceptions that may permit motorized vehicle access in Public Land Use Zones that have restrictions in place?

    Yes, but only in the following circumstances:

    • Restrictions do not apply to vehicles involved in government resource management activities or vehicles used to transport sick, injured or deceased persons. Such motorized vehicles may be used in restricted areas.
    • Some motorized vehicles used by trappers are allowed within the limits of registered trapping areas. A permit is required and timing restrictions apply.
    • Ministerial approval may be given for motorized vehicle use for special research in a zone.
    • Motorized vehicles used for industrial activity are allowed by permit if a disposition has been approved for that activity by the Minister of Environment and Parks (AEP).
  • Is industrial activity allowed in Public Land Use Zones?

    Yes. Industry operates under an 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 review and approval processes that exist for all public land.

    There are a variety of enforcement and remediation actions to address failure to comply with rules and regulations.

  • Are there any other laws that apply in the Public Land Use Zones?

    Yes. Other legislation does apply in a Public Land Use Zone. See Provincial Legislation section below.

  • Can I build recreation structures on public land?

    Structures and improvements to land within a Public Land Use Zone must be approved by Environment and Parks (AEP).

    Failure to obtain departmental approval can result in enforcement actions.

Provincial legislation

Non-compliance with the regulations of the PLUZ you are visiting may result in prosecution.

Report illegal activity – call 310-LAND (5263) – Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to report public safety incidents, illegal activity and enforcement concerns on public land and in provincial parks.

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) is responsible for administering a number of provincial statutes and regulations. In addition, AEP assists some other Government of Alberta Ministries with the implementation of their legislation.

Provincial legislation and regulations

As a starting point, you should familiarize yourself with the following regulations pertaining to recreation on Alberta’s public land and in PLUZs:

  • Forest and Prairie Protection Act
    The Forest and Prairie Protection Act prescribes the provisions for "warming fires" on public lands.
  • Traffic Safety Act (Part 6)
    The Traffic Safety Act establishes the legislative requirements for off-highway vehicles in Alberta.
    • Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation
      The Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation (and sections of the Traffic Safety Act) prescribes the operational requirements for off-highway vehicles in Alberta.
  • Public Lands Act
    • Public Lands Administration Regulation
      The Public Lands Administration Regulation governs the public’s use of all public land use zones, public land recreation areas and provincial trails.
    • Recreational Access Regulation
      The Recreational Access Regulation clarifies the rules for recreational and exploration access on agricultural dispositions issued under the Public Lands Act, including grazing leases and farm development leases.
  • Trails Act
    Provides guidance and structure for trail use in Alberta’s growing recreation and tourism sector. The Trails Act allows for better trail experiences for Albertans by ensuring high quality, well managed and safe designated trails. See Sustainable trail management for further details.
  • Provincial Offences Procedure Act

Additional legislation

The legislation and regulations above are most relevant to recreation on public lands, however, you may also wish to become familiar with the following:

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:

Developing and managing trails and sites

AEP 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 AEP.

Failure to contact AEP before commencing the work is in contravention of the Public Lands Act and could lead to enforcement actions.

Contact

Connect with AEP 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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