Exploring Alberta’s Crown Land: McLean Creek Off Highway Vehicle – Public Land Use Zone

Public Lands Camping Pass Required

As of June 1, 2021 – The Alberta government charges PLUZ users to random camp along many of the PLUZ in the Rocky Mountains. This is to help cover expenses associated with maintaining the land and providing services.

You can purchase a Public Lands Camping Pass here (~$20/3 days or ~$30/year)

McLean Creek PLUZ is a Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ) found in Southern Alberta. Like other PLUZ, McLean Creek is a popular place for backcountry campers and off-road enthusiasts. McLean Creek and Ghost are generally the go-to places for Calgarians looking to enjoy some off-road recreation (This is more accessible from south Calgary whereas Ghost is more accessible from north Calgary).

See Also: Ultimate List of All PLUZ (Crown Land) In Alberta

The sign marking the entrance to McLean Creek PLUZ. CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Official Crown Land Camping Alberta Facebook Group
TexasNorth has partnered with the Crown Land Camping Alberta Facebook group with the intention of sharing our crown land experiences and to become better stewards of all of the beautiful crown land that Alberta has to offer!

This group is the largest crown land group in Alberta and has been instrumental in my adventures in Alberta’s Public Land Use Zones.

Read about my experience with Crown Land Camping Alberta

What is the Ecology of the McLean Creek PLUZ?

McLean Creek PLUZ is entirely part of the montane subregion in the Alberta foothills. This particular region of montane is well known for the mild winters due to the common Chinook winds that the Calgary region enjoys. Thanks to chinook winds, it isn’t unusual to see 20+ degrees changes in temperature overnight in January/February. The trees throughout McLean Creek PLUZ are nearly entirely conifers such as lodgepole pine, white spruce, and douglas fir. There are also Aspen trees, but they are much fewer than the coniferous trees[1].

What kind of wildlife exists in the McLean Creek PLUZ?

There are many different types of mammals that live within the McLean Creek PLUZ including black bears, grizzly bears, moose, elk, deer, wolves, and mountain lions. In higher regions, you will also find mountain goats and bighorn sheep. There is also a vast variety of birds that reside in the McLean Creek PLUZ including various sparrows and finches.

How big is McLean Creek PLUZ?

McLean Creek PLUZ is a medium-sized Public Land Use Zone spanning approximately 202 square kilometers (78 square miles) across the southern, eastern slopes of the Alberta Rockies.

McLean Creek Pond – CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to McLean Creek PLUZ

Getting to McLean Creek PLUZ is actually fairly simple.

Starting from the city of Calgary, Alberta:

  1. Leave Calgary on Highway 22x toward Bragg Creek – 22x will turn into Highway 66
  2. After you pass Gooseberry PRA, the McLean Creek access will be on the left side of the road after the ‘S’ curve.

What is Allowed at McLean Creek PLUZ?

ActivityMcLean Creek PLUZ Rules
CampingRandom backcountry camping is allowed at McLean Creek PLUZ provided that all campsites and fires are set back at least 1km from any Recreation Area, Provincial Park, or public roadway.
Motorized ActivitiesOff Highway Vehicles (OHV) are allowed to be used at McLean Creek PLUZ. OHV includes motorcycles, ATVs, Side by sides, and snowmobiles. Trucks and SUVs are allowed off road at McLean Creek PLUZ.
Non-Motorized ActivitiesHiking, Equestrian, and Cross Country skiing are allowed at McLean Creek PLUZ. Mountain biking at McLean Creek PLUZ should be acceptable provided you aren’t constructing ramps and sticking to existing pathways.
HuntingHunting is permitted at McLean Creek PLUZ provided that you are following the Alberta Hunting Regulations.

FishingFishing is permitted at McLean Creek PLUZ provided that you are following Alberta’s Fishing Regulations.
Note that Alberta could alter these regulations at any time

Rules for Horses In McLean Creek PLUZ

Horses are permitted in McLean Creek PLUZ, however they must be tied up at least 100 meters back from any lakeshore. Alberta Parks doesn’t want horses tied to trees however because this can damage the trees. Many people will tie their horses to their trailers instead, but if you do this – the horse must not be able to reach the drip line of any tree (basically not under the canopy of any particular tree). Additionally, equestrians cannot use electric fences at all on any Crown Land in Kananaskis Country.

CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What is near McLean Creek PLUZ?

Other PLUZ: Kananaskis (within), Sibbald Snow Vehicle (north), Cataract Creek Snow Vehicle (south)

Nearby Parks: McLean Creek, Gooseberry, Elbow Falls, Elbow River Launch, Cobble Flats, Little Elbow, West Bragg Creek Provincial Recreation Areas. Brown-Lowery Provincial Park. Banff National Park.

Closest Accommodations: Evergreen Country Bed & Breakfast (just off Highway 22)

Closest Restaurant: The Bav + The Tav at The Bavarian Inn (Bragg Creek)

Closest Gas Station: Shell (Bragg Creek)

Closest Town(s): Bragg Creek, Calgary

Closest Major Population Center (Population 25,000+): Calgary

Closest Hospital Emergency Rooms: South Health Campus (Calgary), Oilfields General Hospital (Diamond Valley)

Closest Hospital Urgent Care (Non-Life Threatening): Cochrane Community Health Centre (Cochrane)

Nearby Destinations: Elbow Falls, Bragg Creek Provincial Park, Banff National Park



[1] Willoughby, Michael. “RANGE PLANT COMMUNITY TYPES and CARRYING CAPACITY for the SUBALPINE and ALPINE SUBREGIONS.” Sustainable Resource Development Public Lands and Forests Division, no. 3, 2006. Open Alberta.

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