Browsing Tag:

Campgrounds

Alberta Campsite Reviews

Camping at Red Lodge Provincial Park

Camping season is coming! If you are a camper or want to try it this summer, now is the time to start planning. Though April may seem like it’s early to get booking campsites you will find that many fill up very quickly in advance. The Alberta Mamas love to camp, well, most of us. During May, June, July, August and sometimes September you will find us trekking around Alberta with our families in tow in the great outdoors.

It can be difficult to choose a campsite. Common questions like “are there flush toilets?” “is the lake swimmable?” “do they have activities for kids?” “can I get a site with power?” and “what do the sites actually look like?” come to mind. We’ve compiled a list of campsites in Alberta that we have personally reviewed to make things easier for you!

Read more

Camping for Newbies | Rocky Mountain House Review

In July, I pulled up my big girl pants and took my kid’s camping by myself for the first time, and by the “first time” I mean like ever.  Ever.  We’ve never really gone camping in a tent, by ourselves in our lives. We didn’t even own sleeping bags.

Now, this isn’t to say we haven’t camped because we have, just with other campers (my family) who have all the things, like trailers, and sleeping bags. Our contribution has been usually booze and food.

We were invited to the Rocky Mountain House National Historical Park to go camping in their Heritage Camping site, and so, of course, we said yes (all hail adventures!!!!)*, and honestly, if you’ve never really camped before this is a really great way to get started.

The Rocky Mountain House National Historical Site is a not only a campsite, but also an amazing living museum. During the day you learn about the fur traders, David Thompson and Métis history, and during the night you stay in a Métis Trappers Tent which reinforces all the amazing things you learnt during the day at the museum.  Educational win-win.

We stayed in a Heritage Métis Tent which is a canvas tent in the same style that the Métis used and is kept to be historically authentic by local organization Metis 845.

The tent includes two single beds (ok, this part isn’t historically accurate, but it makes it much more comfortable), a trunk with items I’ll detail below, two chairs and a table, bison hide rug on an elevated platform, again to make the experience more comfortable, and sleeps up to 5 people.

How did we do?

The first night, like most first nights in a strange place, was harried. It started out well intentioned with kids in their designated sleeping spots and then before you know it there are kids sleeping on top of your head, everyone in one bed, then everyone on the floor only to be woken up at 4 am wondering where you are. Despite all the “musical beds” in the night we all managed to sleep in until 8:30am.

In the morning we made breakfast (cereal and croissants we bought at the local Safeway because we don’t know about camping food yet) and I made a tea with our new camping stove we picked up at the Canadian Tire in Rocky Mountain House because we didn’t have that either.

First night and breakfast were a WIN!

There are 2 communal fire pits that service the 6 Métis Trappers Tents and to be honest I was worried about this more than was necessary, but as a newbie camper I had no idea about camping norms, etiquettes and I know little about the whole sub-culture of sleeping outside for fun.

The first night we were the only campers at the site and we made our own fire! Huzzah! It seems like a small thing, but camping on my own with kids, this felt like a victory, we could now, at minimum have s’mores. The campsite sells bundles of wood that you can purchase when you check in, but you’ll need paper and other supplies to get it started.

FIRE!!!!

After that tremendous success, we went exploring to check out our surroundings and also to burn off some marshmallow/chocolate energy.

Though the museum itself is closed after 5, campers are welcome to go for walks along the trail.

If you’re lucky, the bison will be out in the paddock closest to where you’re camping.

You can see them best from the lookout about a five-minute walk from the campsite.

The look-out that looks out (literally) on the paddock where the bison often hangout

There is a LOT of history and artifacts to see around the campsite itself including Alberta’s Centennial voyageur canoe from 1967 as well as excavation spots from the original North West Fort “Rocky Mountain House” (that’s right, the original Rocky Mountain House).

1967’s Centennial voyageur canoe from Alberta

 

Excavation site from the original Rocky Mountain House that the kids are allowed to explore and walk on.

You’ll also run into some Tipi’s, which, like the Métis Trappers Tents, can be rented to camp in.

The second night was even better than the first night of camping because the second night brought us….seasoned campers! Even better than that, it brought us seasoned campers with kids who could play with my kids! Our new neighbours  knew how to build a fire in no time and by the end of the night we were making bannock on the fire like we’d been camping together all summer. Communal fire pit on the second night worked amazingly.

What you need to know

Here’s the absolute newbies guide to camping, at the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site.

What to bring: 

  • Sleeping bags & pillows. If you don’t have sleeping bags, beg borrow and steal from family members and friends. We bought some and it got expensive fast.
  • Warm clothes to sleep in, it got really cold at night.
  • Water! We brought with us an 8L container from Save on Foods, but when you factor in washing your dishes, and making tea and the millions of cups of water kids drink, that only lasted us a day and a half. Be prepared to bring more than 8L.
  • Cooking stove: since fire making for us isn’t second nature, we popped into Canadian Tire and got a cooking stove on sale as well as a little pan set (with a kettle for tea!!!). If you’re already a seasoned fire maker and are comfortable cooking on a fire, you might not need this.
  • Paper to help get your fire going, and a lighter because the flint and steel they provide do not make a fire very fast.
  • Food (and marshmallows and chocolate.. obvs)
  • Cooler to keep your food cool.
  • Fold up chairs
  • Bug spray, sunscreen and all that good stuff you need when going outside
What’s included

Sleeping in a Métis Trappers Tent costs $58.80 per site per night and each tent or a tipi includes a heritage kit (trunk) which provides the renter with the following:

  • bison hide (we used this to put our sleeping mats on)
  • period cooking kit and utensils (including a coffee pot you can use on the fire)
  • flint/steel fire-starting kit
  • bannock mix
  • trapper’s tea, spices, oil and soap

The tents have two single beds, two chairs a small table inside and a picnic table outside.

Fur Trade Camp Kit

Reservations & Getting there

You can’t currently book online so to reserve a camping spot at the Rocky Mountain House National Historical Site, you’ll need to call  1-403-845-2412 or email rocky.info@pc.gc.ca. You can book a Métis Trappers Tent, a Tipi or coming soon, some real glamping in the form of Trapline Cabins! If you have a camper or your own tent and want to go camping are spots to hook up your trailer just outside the site for a really reasonable price.

Would I do it again? YES! The kids loved it, we knew they would but it took the big kids to make the leap and get some momentum to get it going. We’re looking at trying one of of the oTentik that Parks Canada has available that might be less “camping” and a touch more “glamping,” and we can ease our way into proper camping.

* I received two nights free at the Rocky Mountain House National Historical Site for but my thoughts and opinions are my own

 

Our Favourite Campgrounds in Alberta

Switzer Provincial Park

Alberta is a great place to camp! We’ve got mountains, foothills, lakes, vast prairies, thick forests, waterfalls and much more to explore. Whether you are pulling out your tent or getting your trailer ready for the sometimes short camping season, we’ve got you covered with some of our favourite Alberta Campgrounds. We chose these campgrounds based on places we’ve actually stayed at AND found to be family friendly in terms of accessibility, amenities and/or campsite quality. Read on!

Beauvais Lake Campground: Near Pincher Creek in Southern Alberta this beautiful area has views, history and a lakeside location with lots of trails. There are sites for walk in tenting as well as regular drive in sites.

Beauvais Lake Camping

Photo Credit: Tanya Koob

Boulton Creek Campground: This is a large campground located in Kananaskis and is easily accessible from Calgary. We love it for the unreal scenery, paved bike trails, hiking trails and paddling opportunities. There’s also showers, equipment rentals and a camper’s store in case you forget anything!

Kananaskis

Photo Credit: Alberta Parks

Camp Lake Park: 18 kms east of Viking in Eastern Central Alberta sits a little gem among the farmer’s fields. There’s a combination of group and private sites with 2 beaches, a playground and really friendly operators. Well treed and great water for swimming. There’s also some sites that are perfect for groups of campers.

Beaver County Alberta

Cold Lake Provincial Park: This lake is huge and the provincial campground has lots of sites. Campers can enjoy a great playground, spacious tree covered campsites and close proximity to the Town of Cold Lake which is just over 3 hours east and a little north of Edmonton. There’s lots of restaurants in town, which is perfect for when you really want an easy dinner. Be sure to check out all the activity at the marina.

Camping Cold Lake

Jarvis Bay Campground: (Sylvan Lake) If you are from Calgary or Edmonton chances are you’ve been to Sylvan Lake, but have you camped here? Just a few minutes drive from the town is a large campground that offers a reprieve from the often crowded summer town. There’s flush toilets in many circles, a playground, showers, trails and some really stunning views of the lake. For an entire review of this campground click here.

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake

Jarvis Lake Campground (William A. Switzer Provincial Park): Foothills camping at it’s best! Just 25 minutes from Hinton this small campground offers a quiet and beautiful way to get away from it all. The lake is pristine, there are trails everywhere and the entire area is a canoe and kayaker’s dream! Make sure you check out the loop trail around Kelly’s Bathtub and stop for a picnic while in the area.

Switzer Provincial Park

Marten River Campground: 28 kms north of the Town of Slave Lake in Northern Alberta lies a piece of heaven on the shores of Lesser Slave Lake. Sites are well treed, the beach is incredible and there are so many hiking trails! Bonus, you can take a short drive to the gorgeous Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation and hike Marten Mountain to take in the amazing view!

Lesser Slave Lake

Lesser Slave Lake

Medicine Lake Campground: This campground is isolated, but so worth it. It’s 47 kms north of Rocky Mountain House on Highway 22 and 8 km southeast on an access road. Many sites are private and lake front- you can tie your boat right up to your site if you want. There’s a small store with essentials as well as some local wares and great group camping area.

Ol MacDonald’s Resort: Located on Buffalo Lake in Central Alberta. Come here for the amenities, there are so many things here for families to do! Enjoy mini golf, farm animals, merry go round, train rides, hay rides, arcade, coffee shop, theatre, beach, playgrounds, ice cream shack, restaurant and more!

Old MacDonald's Camping

Shaw’s Point Resort: Nestled on the north west end of Lesser Slave Lake in Northern Alberta, about 40 kms from High Prairie is a massive campground with tons of services. We like it for the marina (a must if you have a large boat), cabin rentals, on site restaurant and exciting Golden Walleye Classic Tournament!

Slave Lake Camping

Sir Winston Churchill Campground: Surrounded by water on 3 sides, you access this park via a causeway! Old growth forest, amazing bird watching opportunities (when we went there were pelicans everywhere), boat rentals and sandy beaches on the shores of Lac La Biche are all waiting for you. There are also Comfort Camping cabins available for rent that are lakeside and include a full kitchen and bathroom.

Camping Lac La Biche

Wabamun Lake Campground: For a campground that is so close to Edmonton, Wabamun is impressive! The lake is usually quite swimmable and offers a big beach and recreation area complete with canoe rentals and large playground. There are powered, non powered and large group sites in the campground with many of them being well treed. You’ll also find lots of trails and the convenience of the town close by.

Wabamun Provincial Park

Whistlers Campground (Jasper National Park): Conveniently situated a mere 2 Kms from the Jasper townsite, this huge campground is at the centre of it all yet still feels like a hideaway. We love the spontaneous play areas for kids that are scattered throughout the park and inspire creative play. Don’t have a trailer or are tired of tenting? Stay in one of the oTENTik sites, which is a cross between a rustic cabin and a tent.

Jasper camping

Photo Credit: Teagan Photography

Wild Horse Lake Campground: Another one close to Hinton in the glorious foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This campground has stunning views, a peaceful lake and is SO close to the Jasper National Park gates. Visiting the Miette Hot Springs with the kids to warm up on a cold day is a breeze!

Wildhorse Provincial Park

Writing-on-Stone Campground: A unique experience awaits at this National Historic Site set in the prairie grasslands of southern Alberta. The spectacular Milk River Valley contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America. Comfort camping is also available.

Writing On Stone Camping

Photo Credit: Alberta Parks

With so many varied camping opportunities, the options are endless in Alberta! What’s your favourite spot to camp?

Every Day Girl