Exploring Alberta’s Crown Land: Porcupine Hills – 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)

Porcupine Hills is a Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ) found in Southern Alberta. Like other PLUZ, Porcupine Hills is a popular place for backcountry campers and off-road enthusiasts. It was created more recently in 2018 in order to provide users with a designated set of motorized trails.

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

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 Porcupine Hills PLUZ?

Porcupine Hills 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 Porcupine Hills 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 Porcupine Hills PLUZ?

There are many different types of mammals that live within the Porcupine Hills 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 Porcupine Hills PLUZ including various sparrows and finches.

How big is Porcupine Hills PLUZ?

Porcupine Hills is a large Public Land Use Zone spanning approximately 1500 square kilometers (579.2 square miles) across the southern, eastern slopes of the Alberta Rockies.

“Hiking Along Beaver Creek Rd In Porcupine Hills” Tiado, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Porcupine Hills PLUZ

Getting to Porcupine Hills PLUZ is actually fairly simple.

Starting from the town of Claresholm, Alberta:

  1. Drive west on highway 520 and this road will head right into the PLUZ after Furman, Alberta.
  2. There is a dirt road heading both north and south and an information kiosk at the T-Intersection with highway 22.

From Longview, Alberta:

  1. Drive south on Highway 22 until you reach Highway 520
  2. The PLUZ will be the first few kilometers of this highway (there is an information kiosk right at the 22/520 intersection.

What is Allowed at Porcupine Hills PLUZ?

ActivityPorcupine Hills PLUZ Rules
CampingRandom backcountry camping is allowed at Porcupine Hills 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 Porcupine Hills PLUZ. OHV includes motorcycles, ATVs, Side by sides, and snowmobiles. Trucks and SUVs are allowed off road at Porcupine Hills PLUZ.
Non-Motorized ActivitiesHiking, Equestrian, and Cross Country skiing are allowed at Porcupine Hills PLUZ. Mountain biking at Porcupine Hills should be acceptable provided you aren’t constructing ramps and sticking to existing pathways.
HuntingHunting is permitted at Porcupine Hills PLUZ provided that you are following the Alberta Hunting Regulations.

FishingFishing is permitted at Porcupine Hills PLUZ provided that you are following Alberta’s Fishing Regulations.
Note that Alberta could alter these regulations at any time
Beaver Creek in Porcupine Hills. Tiado, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rules for Horses In Porcupine Hills PLUZ

Horses are permitted in Porcupine Hills, 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 southern Alberta.

What is near Porcupine Hills PLUZ?

Other PLUZ: Kananaskis (northwest), Cataract Creek Snow Vehicle (northwest), Livingstone (west)

Nearby Parks: Provincial Recreation Areas. Public Land Recreation Area. Chain Lakes Provincial Park. Willow Creek Provincial Park. Banff National Park.

Closest Accommodations: Best Seven Inn (Claresholm)

Closest Restaurant: Tim Hortons / A&W (Claresholm)

Closest Gas Station: Fas Gas (Claresholm)

Closest Town(s): Claresholm, Longview, Lundbreck

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

Closest Hospital Emergency Room: Claresholm General Hospital

Nearby Destinations: Chain Lakes Provincial Park, Willow Creek Provincial Park, Lundbreck Falls



[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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