Bighorn Backcountry – Overview and Maps

Find brochures, maps and other information on Bighorn Backcountry and its related Public Land Use Zones.

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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.

Overview

Alberta's Bighorn Backcountry covers 5,000 square kilometres (1.2 million acres) of public lands east of the Banff and Jasper National Parks. To facilitate area management, the Bighorn Backcountry is subdivided into 6 Public Land Use Zones (PLUZs), land areas subject to legislative controls under the authority of Alberta’s Forests Act and Public Lands Administration Regulation. Recreational activities allowed in each PLUZ can vary greatly depending on local conditions.

Current management of the Bighorn Backcountry will continue while government consults on the Bighorn Country proposal.

Plan your visit

Explore brochures and maps of the area

Review area conditions and amenities, and recreation best practices

Check for trail and area closures

There are many recreational opportunities in the Bighorn Backcountry. Before heading out, check for any trail and area closures in effect:

Review best practices and regulations for outdoor activities

Learn more about where to go, activity rules and best practices to have a safe and fun trip!

Responsible recreation

The Alberta government is responsible for managing the Bighorn Backcountry. Area management helps ensure environmental protection while allowing responsible and sustainable recreational use.

If you are planning a visit to the Bighorn Backcountry, remember that it is your responsibility to become familiar with recreational activities allowed in the area. Visitors who do not follow the rules could be fined or charged under provincial legislation.

Learn more about responsible recreation at:

Download a copy of the Public Land Trail Guide

Start planning your next adventure:

Use caution when travelling in the Bighorn Backcountry

Due to extreme weather events and natural occurrences such as fire, flood and heavy snowfall that can take place in the region, travellers in the Bighorn Backcountry Public Land Use Zones should exercise caution. For details, see:

Trail and area updates

Effective May 31, 2024

Trail or areaPublic Land Use ZoneDetails
  • Allstones Lake Trail
  • Waterfalls Creek Trail
  • Trails to Landslide Lake and Lake of the Falls
  • Kiska/Willson
  • Job/Cline
Trails closed for equestrian use. These trails will remain closed for equestrian use until October 1, 2024.

Effective July 1, 2024

Trail or areaPublic Land Use ZoneDetails
  • Bighorn Dam Area
  • Tershishner T1, T3 to T6
  • Eagle Lake Trail
  • Job/Cline
  • Kiska/Willson
  • Upper Clearwater/Ram
Trails denoted in light pink on the brochure are closed to OHV and snow vehicle use until July 1, 2024.
  • Brazeau River Trail
  • Hummingbird Creek Trail
  • Onion Creek Trail
  • Job/Cline
  • Kiska/Willson
  • Upper Clearwater/Ram
Trails denoted in orange on the brochure are closed to OHV and snow vehicle use until July 1, 2024.
  • Whitegoat Trail
  • Joyce Creek
  • Clearwater Trail/Skeleton Creek Trail
  • Canary Creek Trail
  • Ranger Creek Trail
  • Job/Cline
  • Kiska/Willson
  • Upper Clearwater/Ram
Trails denoted in light tan colour are closed to OHV use and snow vehicle use until December 1, 2024.
  • Tershishner Hwy T1-T2-T3
  • Peppers Lake Trails
  • Kiska/Willson
Trails denoted in dark pink are closed to OHV and snow vehicle use until December 1, 2024.
  • Sugarbowl Random Sledding Area
  • Onion Lake Random Sledding Area
  • Ranger Creek Random Sledding Area
  • Scalp Creek Random Sledding Area
  • Job/Cline
  • Upper Clearwater/Ram
Random sledding areas are closed to snow vehicle use until December 1, 2024.

Effective July 19, 2010

Trail or areaPublic Land Use ZoneDetails
  • Wapiabi Cave
  • Blackstone/Wapiabi
Wapiabi Cave is CLOSED to prevent the spread of White-nose Syndrome to bats. Ensure you take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of White-nose Syndrome to local bat populations.

Contact

Connect with the nearest Clearwater Area Provincial Office to obtain a paper copy of the Bighorn Backcountry brochure, or for additional information about the area:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)

Rocky Mountain House

Phone: 403-845-8250
Toll free: 310-LAND (5263) (in Alberta)

Drayton Valley

Phone: 780-542-6616
Toll free: 310-LAND (5263) (in Alberta)

Call 310-LAND anytime to report illegal activity, public safety issues, and enforcement concerns on Crown land (public land, provincial parks and protected areas).