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.


Alberta’s public land offers opportunities for many different types of land uses, including agricultural, industrial, economic and recreational activities. Recreational users can camp, horseback ride, ride an off-highway vehicle (OHV), dog sled and more on vacant public land. Regulations are in place for recreational activities on public land to protect users and ensure sustainable long-term use of the land.

Familiarize yourself with the general regulations for public land use, as well as the regulations specific to the area you are visiting and your recreational activity before heading out on public land.

General regulations for recreation on public land

  • Keep wheels out of the water and wetlands.
    • Wheeled or tracked vehicles are not allowed on beds or shores of waterbodies or wetlands unless the crossing is designated by the department.
    • Driving in these areas produces harmful ruts and soil erosion problems. In addition, fine sediments that flow into the water body or are stirred up by tires are harmful to fish.
    • It is illegal to wash your OHV in a natural waterbody, including streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.
  • There is a 14 day maximum stay when random camping on public land.
    • After 14 days, you are required to move your camp at least 1 kilometre for at least 72 hours.
    • This limit allows vegetation the time to recover and gives other users the opportunity to access the site as well.
  • Pack out all garbage and waste, and properly dispose of it at home or at a dump station.
  • Target shooting is not allowed within 400 metres of a provincial trail.
  • Do not damage or cause disturbance to public land or property.
  • Do not access closed trails or areas without department authorization.
  • Obey the signs and publications for the public land use zone (PLUZ) or provincial trail you’re visiting.

Enforcement on public land

Public land use regulations are in place to provide opportunities for all Albertans to access public land safely and sustainably, while respecting both the environment and other recreational users. Fish and Wildlife Officers, RCMP, Conservation Officers, Sheriffs and municipal enforcement officers routinely patrol public land to monitor compliance and ensure public safety and responsible recreation throughout the province. Non-compliance with public land regulations may result in prosecution.

A variety of tools are used to manage recreation on public land, including:

  • public information and education
  • partnerships with public land users and other stakeholders
  • monitoring
  • legislation, regulation and enforcement
  • Specified penalty tickets

    One of the enforcement tools the province has is the ability to issue on-the-spot violation tickets for most public land offences. Enforcement officers have the discretion to issue tickets and/or require a court appearance for contravention of the regulations.

    Some offences incur specific fine amounts, called a “specified penalty”. Specified penalty amounts for offences under the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR) range from $60 to $600, depending on the offence. Ticketed fines include the victim fine surcharge and will be 20% higher than fines listed in the legislation (see provincial legislation section below). A victim surcharge is a monetary penalty imposed on offenders at the time of sentencing. These funds are used to provide programs, services and assistance to victims of crime.

    In some cases, there is no specified penalty amount and instead you may be issued a summons to appear in court.

  • Provincial legislation

    Review provincial legislation related to public land use for more detailed information on violations and associated fines:

    Additional legislation

    The legislation and regulations above are most relevant to recreation on public lands, however, the following legislation also applies to recreational users on public land use:

    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.

  • Reporting public safety incidents, illegal activity and other enforcement concerns

    By observing the activity around us, we can work together to ensure safe and enjoyable experiences for all users on the land.

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