Table of contents

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.

Overview

Alberta’s public land offers opportunities for many different types of land uses, including agricultural, industrial, economic and recreational activities. Regulations are in place for all recreational activities on public land to protect users and ensure sustainable long-term use of the land.

Be lawful

You can camp, horseback ride, dog sled and more on vacant public land. Current provincial public land regulations that apply include:

  • Keep wheels out of streams, rivers and lakes.
    • Wheeled or tracked vehicles are not allowed on beds or shores of watercourses, wetlands or waterbodies 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 (off-highway vehicle) in a natural waterbody, including streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.
  • Stay on the trail tread.
    • Always use the trail tread (the surface of the trail intended for travel) when travelling on provincial trails designated for motorized use.
  • Target shooting is not allowed within 400 m of a provincial trail.
  • If camping, limit your stay to 14 days.
    • After 14 days, you are required to move your camp by at least 1 km for at least 72 hours.
    • This 14-day limit allows vegetation the time to recover and gives other users the opportunity to access the site as well.
  • Keep your camping area clean.
    • All waste including garbage, recycling, compost and human waste should be taken home or to a dump station for proper disposal.
  • Know the Public Land Use Zone restrictions for camping and open fires.
    • Camping and open fires are not permitted within 1 km of a public land recreation area or provincial recreation area or public land recreation area located within a Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ).
  • Do not damage or cause disturbance to public land.
  • Do not access closed trails or areas without department authorization.

For more information on regulations in PLUZs, see:

Enforcement on public land

Alberta’s government aims to provide opportunities for all Albertans to access public land safely and sustainably, while respecting both the environment and other recreational users. 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

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

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.
Particular offences have a specific fine amount associated with them. This specific fine is called a specified penalty. In some cases, there is no specified penalty amount and instead you may be issued a summons to appear in court.

Specified penalties may range from $115 to $575, 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.

Provincial legislation

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

  • 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 (PLAR) governs the public’s use of all PLUZs, Provincial Recreation Areas, 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

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