RV’ing 101 in Calgary

Roadtrip to the mountains
Roadtrip to the mountains
Planning your RV adventure

RV’ing 101 in Calgary

Your guide to creating a magical vacation in a motorhome or trailer in the Calgary area.
By
Tobin Rooney
Tobin Rooney is a content creator for This Big Adventure, local Calgarian, and always in favor of RV’ing over his day job.

Planning an RV Trip? Why not make Calgary part (or all!) of your RV experience? Calgary’s close proximity to the Rocky Mountains and numerous Provincial and National Parks, combined with local attractions and events, make Calgary the perfect basecamp for RV adventure. Be prepared to say, “BEST. TRIP. EVER!”.

Never RV’d before? You may be thinking, why would I RV? 

RV’ing gives you the freedom to enjoy and explore your surroundings with all of the comforts of home. If you see a picnic spot on your route simply pull in, open the fridge, and enjoy! 

RV’ing isn’t just about the destination, they make getting there half the fun! 

When travelling by RV, you can really experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the area you’re exploring…plus, hotels typically frown on having a campfire and s’mores in your room!

 

Header image: CanaDream RV Rentals (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/Anthony Redpath)

RVing in the mountains

CanaDream RV Rentals (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/Anthony Redpath)

Renting an RV in Calgary

Don’t have an RV? No problem!

There are several options for renting an RV in Calgary. If you are at least 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license and credit card, you can easily rent an RV or motorhome. Just make sure to check with the rental agency ahead of time, for all their license requirements.

If you choose to rent an RV Trailer and supply your own towing vehicle, it must be equipped with a hitch receiver, full RV wiring and a hitch with 2” ball. If you have any questions on the set up and towing capacity of your vehicle, make sure to ask your rental agency, as they would be happy to help.

If you do not have the ability or desire to tow a trailer, a motorhome RV is a great option for you! If you are flying into YYC Calgary International Airport, pick up is available from most rental companies from the airport itself.

When renting an RV in the summer months, it's good to know that there is typically a minimum seven day rental period.

It’s also good to note that most RV rentals are just the RV. If you don’t have all the essentials like dishes, bedding, chairs, flashlights and such, you can usually rent these for an additional fee.

Some great options for renting in Calgary are:

RVing in the mountains

RVing on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/Anthony Redpath)

Some Important RV Laws While Driving in Alberta

It’s important to know that no passengers are allowed in towed RVs (i.e. the trailer behind your car) and two safety chains are required for all towed RVs except 5th wheels and no secondary attachment is necessary.

In motorhomes, you require a seat belt for each passenger.

There are no passengers allowed in truck campers.

Getting To and Around Calgary in Your RV

When driving an RV, knowing the major routes is key to a quick, less stressful drive. Calgary is broken up by quadrant – Northeast (NE), Northwest (NW), Southeast (SE), and Southwest (SW). When getting directions, ensure you know which quadrant of the city you are going to. Getting around Calgary in an RV is easy, as we have several RV friendly routes with multiple lanes and clearly marked exits, which helps you navigate the city.

Stoney Trail (Highway 201)

Stoney Trail (Highway 201)is a 69-kilometer ring road that runs around the outside of Calgary. This road is a great option for accessing all quadrants of Calgary and is a perfect option to use when Highway 1 and 2 are congested, making your exit from the city quick and easy.

Deerfoot Trail (Highway 2)

Deerfoot Trail (Highway 2) runs through the city of Calgary and spans the entire length of the city from north to south. Deerfoot Trail is a great non-rush hour option and gets you access to all quadrants of the city. If you find yourself coming into Calgary on a weekday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. or from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Stoney Trail is a better option as the Deerfoot gets very congested during peak times.

Glenmore Trail

Glenmore Trail is another freeway option that runs East-West through Calgary and is accessible by both the Deerfoot and Stoney Trail. Similar to the Deerfoot, avoid rush hour on Glenmore if possible.

16th Avenue NE & NW 

16th Avenue NE & NW is another route for East-West travel. This road becomes Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada Highway) as you exit Calgary in either direction. While 16th Avenue is the most direct route, it also has many traffic lights and can add a significant amount of drive time to your trip as you enter and exit the city. On the positive side, 16th Avenue takes you through the city and offers a multitude of options should you wish to stop and explore, shop, or eat.

For information on Alberta road conditions, call 511 or 1-855-391-9743, or visit 511.alberta.ca.

RV campgroud at Calaway

Calaway Park Campground

Camgroud store at Calaway campground

Calaway Park Campground

Where to stay in your RV?

The key to a great Calgary RV experience is to do some research and book everything well in advance. Booking early has many advantages – you typically get the best RV sites, you are not burning up precious vacation time looking for last minute accommodations, and it gives you more time to invest in planning activities for your trip.

Calgary West Campground

Located on the west side of Calgary, Calgary West Campground is the only campground located within the city limits. Calgary West offers free shuttles throughout the summer to connect you to Calgary Transit, and during the Calgary Stampede, an express bus gets you directly to and from the grounds. One item to note for you s’more lovers, due to the location of the park, open fires are prohibited.

Calaway Park Campground

Located minutes West of Calgary, Calaway Park Campground offers up mountain views and the opportunity to walk next door to Western Canada’s largest outdoor family amusement park! There is also a daily shuttle available during the Calgary Stampede for those looking to check out the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!

Mountain View Campground

Located 3 kilometers East of Calgary, Mountain View Campground has country camping with quick access to the city. Daily shuttle bus service is offered during Calgary Stampede.

Other RV Options

Other fun options just outside the city for a full RV getaway include Dinosaur Provincial Park, where you can stay on-site at one of the world’s richest fossil deposits and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aspen Crossing, where you can ride the rails on daily train excursions, and Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, where you can explore just like David Thompson as he found a passage through the Rocky Mountains.

Ziplining at WinSport

Zipline at WinSport

What To Do In Calgary while on your RV Trip

Part of the fun of any RV trip is planning what to do once you have parked and set up. There are so many things to do and see in Calgary that you could stay all summer and be busy every day! There are great Festivals and attractions that are both adult and family friendly.

For over 100 years the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” has been a star attraction for locals and visitors from around the globe. In early July, Calgary buzzes with activity as the Calgary Stampede sets out for 10 days and 10 nights of non-stop fun. From the Stampede rodeo and chuckwagon races, to the midway rides and food, a variety of musical concerts and venues featuring some of the world's most popular performers, there is something for everyone at the Calgary Stampede! All local RV parks have shuttle services to and from the Stampede making it a great option when planning your trip.

If you prefer sandals over cowboy boots, the Calgary Folk Music Festival starts up the band in late July. Over 70 local and international music artists play on 8 stages in the heart of Calgary on the picturesque Princes Island Park on the Bow River. The site boasts a family area with interactive activities and live entertainment, a Talk Tent featuring comedians and spoken word artists plus other site animations, an artisan market, global culinary delights, a record tent and tree-shaded beer garden serving up local craft brew.

We could also tell you how amazing attractions like WinSport, Heritage Park, Studio Bell, Calaway Park, TELUS Spark, the Calgary Tower, Fort Calgary, the Glenbow museum, and the Calgary Zoo are…but why spoil the surprise? Don’t even get me started on the local restaurants and craft breweries! Whatever your taste, Calgary has options to make your RV trip one to remember! And most major attractions have ample RV parking right on site, making your visit even easier!

Good luck, remember to book early and take the time to plan your RV adventure!