Check Before You Go

RULES FOR WEST COUNTRY ACCESS

In the fall of 2002, the Alberta Government imposed new access regulations for the Bighorn Backcountry, which restricts the use of motorized vehicles and determines what other means may be used to travel through the area. New regulations are intended to help preserve the area's mountain environment and to protect trail systems from deterioration and abuse. New signs posted throughout the area indicate what is and is not allowed.

Alberta Sustainable Resources Development has developed a free brochure/map which outlines the allowable uses in each of the identified area of the Bighorn Backcountry. It details:

 • Trail routes

 • The method of transportation allowed in each area

 • The time of year each method is permitted

Examples of allowable use taken from the brochure:

 • Conservation officers have new authority to close trails to public access when a trail is too wet or during sensitive times for wildlife in the area.

 • Cars and trucks are not allowed to leave roads or parking areas in the Bighorn Backcountry.

 • There are restrictions on dirt bikes.

 • Some motorized access is limited to soft-tired vehicles, or is eliminated entirely.

If you are interested in visiting the Bighorn Backcountry be sure to pick up a brochure by calling 403-845-8250, or continue through this website and view the maps for the area:

 • Blackstone/Wapiabi

 • Job/Cline

 • Kiska/Willson

 • Upper Clearwater/Ram

 • Panther Corners

 • Dormer Sheep

Each map will provide you with the rules and regulations for  that particular FLUZ (Forest Land Use Zone).

NO TRACE CAMPING

Pack out all garbage - do not burn or bury it. Choose resting areas that will minimize damage to ground vegetation, preferable an established staging area that is at least 30 metres (1oo ft0 away form the nearest watercourse. Do not attract, disturb or feed the wildlife. Use backcountry toilets where provided, or bury human waste away from trails and at least 30 metres (100 ft.) away from watercourses. Do not pick plants or harm trees.

FIRES

Use existing fire pits where possible and dismantle rock rigns when finished. Dig down through surface litter such as leaves and grasses into the dirt. Do not cut living trees or branches for fuel. At high elevations, vegetation can take hundreds of years to recover and, in ost cases, live material won't burn very well. Never leave your fire unattended and keep it small. Make sure your fire is out when you leave. Stir the ashes to uncover embers and douse thoroughly with water. When you're sure it's out, douse it again. Whenever ossible use a stove instead of a campfire. During high and extreme fire conditions, a fire ban may be in effect restricting fires.

Fire Ban Link - Please Check Before You Go

TRAIL ETIQUETTE

Stay on designated trails. The widening and development of new trails requires written approval from a Forest Officer. Many trails are used for a variety of recreational activities. Slow down, be courteous and respect ot her users and their limitations. Avoid wet, soft and sensitive areas. Obey signs and observe the rules for each Forest Land Use Zone. If you have concern about trail conditions or appropriate use, please call 403-845-8250.

FISHING

Enjoy great fishing in the rivers, streams, stocked ponds and high mountian lakes. Fishing may be restricted or closed so please check for current regulations. License, daily catch, possession regulations and seasonal openings apply.

HUNTING

License are required and annually published regulations apply. Hunting and discharge of firearms are prohibited in wilderness areas, all campgrounds, picnic areas, ecological reserves, staging areas and near occupied buildings.

BEAR AWARENESS

All bears can be dangerous. Never feed or approach a bear. Avoid female bears with cubs and never go near a cub as a mother bear will aggresively protect her young. Remember to give bears a wide berth as they may look large and clumsy but they can run much faster than people, both up and down hills (as fast as 65 km/h for short distances).

Minimize your chances of an encounter:

 • Pack out all of your garbage in sealed bags

 • Use dried foods and portable camp stoves whenever possible

 • Hang your food, animal feed, toiletries, garbage and cooking equipment  high in a tree to discourage bears from investigating them

 • Never leave food in a camp unattended

 • Where possible, setup camp in designated backcountry campgrounds and staging areas or open areas away from game trails, streams and lake shores

 • Your cooking and food storage area should be at least 30 metres (100 ft.) from your sleeping area to prevent food odor contamination

 • Never sleep in the clothes you wear while cooking. The odor attracts bears.

 • Never burn food scraps

 • It is best to leave your pet at home; however, if you do travel with your pet, keep it on a leash at all times as loose dogs can attract and irrate bears

 • Consider using a portable electric fence if camping or extended periods of time

TRAVEL SAFELY

There are no services or regular patrols in the Bighorn Backcountry, so plan your trip carefully. No regular maintenance occurs in this area and natural and/or man-made hazards may exist an dmay or may not be marked. Rivers and creeks may rise quickly after a storm and are often higher in the afternoon than in the morning. Consider that they weather can changes suddenly in the mountains and temperatures can fall to freezing at any time of the year. Avalanche control and snow studies are not conducted in the Bighorn Backcountry.

Some recommendations:

 • Before you plan your trip in the backcountry, let friends know the route you intend to take and your travel schedule

 • Bring the following items:

 ◦ 1:50,000 topographic map(s) of the area you will travel

 ◦ Compass or GPS unit with extra batteries

 ◦ Warm, waterproof clothing, including a hat

 ◦ Matches (in waterproof container)

 ◦ Change of socks

 ◦ Headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries

 ◦ First-aid kit

 ◦ Tool kit, spare parts, patch kit for bicycle or OHV

 ◦ Enough food to last the trip, and water to last between fill-ups

 ◦ Carry a shovel, flare, beacon and probe for any winter travel

 ◦ Bear spray

 ◦ Local sporting goods stores may sell map sheets and/or trail books of the area

 • Travel with at least one companion. In grizzly country travel in groups of 6 or more

 • Pack out all garbage

 • Do not attract, feed or distrub wildlife

 • Watch for signs or check with information sources about fire hazard condition. Campfires may, at times, be restricted or prohibited. To report a wildfire, call collect at 780-427-FIRE or #FIRE on the Telus Mobility Network

 • Never hike after dark

 • Know your route

The Backcountry borders  on Banff National Park where other regulations apply.

EQUESTRIAN USE

Use weed free feed and, wherever possible, avoid grazing, especially wehre stream bank damage could occur. Tie horses to yoru trailer or use and approved high-line method to avoid damage to trees in the staging are and backcountry.

MOTORIZED USERS

Motorized users must yield to non-motorized users. This includes pulling over to the right side of the trail, turning off the engine and removing helmets when horses are approaching. Be courteous and respect other users and their limitations.

ADJACENT AREAS

Banff and Jasper National Parks - motorized vehicles and hunting are not permitted. There are some restrictions for non-motorized activities. Check with the Federal Parks staff for further details.

Siffleur and Whitegoat Wilderness Areas - foot travel only; no mountain bikes or motorized vehicles allowed; no  hunting or fishing.

Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve - motorized access, hunting, fishing, grazing and camping are not allowed.

Contact Information

Phone:  1-800-565-3793

Address: Visitor Information Centre, Hwy. 11