Recreation and Wilderness in Alberta

Alberta is home to some of the world’s best landscape for recreation. The demand for outdoor recreation is growing as the population grows. However, we can literally love our parks and wilderness areas to death if we don’t have a sustainable plan for the future.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Southern and Northern Alberta chapters commissioned The Praxis Group to survey Albertans about their recreation activity and their behaviour, attitudes and values related to nature and outdoor recreation.

This survey is foundational because:

  • It is the first to identify both what is happening on the landscape and the values Albertans hold about wilderness, public lands and recreation.
  • It is representative of Alberta’s entire adult population province-wide.
  • It is broken down according to Alberta’s seven Land Use Framework (LUF) regions.

(Lower Peace, Upper Peace, Lower Athabasca, Upper Athabasca, North Saskatchewan, Red Deer, South Saskatchewan.)

The findings clearly show that the vast majority of Albertans are taking part in some form of outdoor recreation. The results also show Albertans prefer non-motorized recreation, and they support wilderness and protection.

See the following visual on the key findings: 

The threat

The demand for outdoor recreation is growing as the population grows and more people are exploring and moving to this region. While connecting with wilderness is an important part of living in this beautiful province, we need to plan ahead to ensure we are protecting our water, wildlife and wilderness experiences. These survey results can be useful in creating informed land-use plans for recreation and wilderness protection in Alberta.

What CPAWS is doing

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Southern Alberta and Northern Alberta chapters developed the survey with input from academics, conservation and recreation groups and government planners. Now we are sharing these results with stakeholders across Alberta. These important findings can be used by recreation groups, conservation organizations, municipalities, government land-use planners and other stakeholders to help inform future land-use planning to help conserve Alberta wilderness, ecosystems and communities.

CPAWS is also taking part in the land-use planning process in both the development of regional land use plans, such as the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan, and in the resulting Management Frameworks including the recreation management plans. CPAWS will continue to provide recommendations to the government and encourage public input into the development of regional plans and frameworks.

CPAWS created videos to celebrate connecting to our Alberta parks and wilderness areas through sustainable outdoor recreation. See the two short videos below. 

The first features flood blogger Julie Van Rosendaal and CPAWS guide Julie Walker having fun foraging for wild edibles in Kananaskis and the second is a shoeshow adventure with entertainment blogger Mike Morrison and CPAWS guide Alex Mowat - once again in Kananaskis!

Fun and foraging for wild edibles in Kananaskis. Watch HERE!


See Mike and Alex's snowshoe adventure. Watch the video HERE

Our valued supporters

Funding support for this project was provided by Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the Edmonton Community Foundation, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Alberta Culture and Tourism Community Initiatives Program.

Become a member of CPAWS

Support the places you love and become a member by making a donation! (suggested donation to be a member is $20 annually) 

Take Action

Stay tuned for updates on recreation planning in Alberta and how you can participate.


Read the Full Report on Albertans' Values and Attitudes Towards Recreation and Wilderness

Download a PDF copy of the Infographic 

U.S. report on the value of quiet recreation 

Sustainable outdoor recreation tips

Protect yourself, and the parks and wilderness areas you visit, by following a few simple steps in every season! Learn more HERE.

Leave no trace

To enjoy the outdoors responsibly, we recommend using the Leave No Trace seven core principles:

• Plan Ahead and Prepare
• Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
• Dispose of Waste Properly
• Leave What You Find
• Minimize Campfire Impacts
• Respect Wildlife
• Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Protect the natural world. Learn more about each of these principles of enjoying the outdoors responsibly at Leave No Trace Center Canada

Hiking in parks

Learn more about where to hike for every season, safety and etiquette, and what to do before you leave home.

Banff National Park

Kananaskis backcountry

Camping in parks

Check out these helpful tips on how to keep yourself, wildlife and the local environment safe. Visit Parks Canada section What to Know

Winter recreation in Alberta

Before you head out into the Rockies for a day of recreation, visit a national or provincial parks visitor centre! They provide great advice on what routes are best to take, and other tips.

For weather conditions and forecast by locations, visit the Government of Canada Weather Site

Heading out to the backcountry? Check out Alberta Parks Winter Survival in Backcountry.

Below, you will find direct links to avalanche forecasts for Kananaskis, Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, and Jasper. Before going out on a winter trip, be prepared and stay informed of the conditions.

Banff, Yoho & Kootenay National Parks

Little Yoho National Park

Kananaskis Country, South Rockies and Waterton

Jasper National Park

For other locations in Canada, visit Avalanche Canada.

Stories and photos: what Albertans value about recreation and wilderness!

 Thomas Porter's Story


Kira Bateman's Story


Chris Boultbee's Story


 Caprice Niebuhr's Story


Nadege Luquet's Story


Cassidy van Rensen's Story



Jenel Bode's Story

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