We love camping across Alberta and BC but we get tired of the routine RV or car camping experience. We tire of the crowds, the noise, and the sandwiched feeling we get when we’re squished between gigantic RVs running generators all night long. While we plan to spend many nights in front country campgrounds this summer, we’re also taking several more unique trips to scenic backcountry locations. We’ll be paddling to camp, hiking to camp and exploring some fun alternatives to tenting (because let’s be honest, you reach a certain age where sleeping on the ground just isn’t comfortable anymore!).
Here are Five alternatives to the RV for those who wish to venture off the beaten path this summer!
A backcountry cabin or hut is your home in the woods
The Alpine Club of Canada maintains and operates more than ten backcountry cabins across Alberta and BC. Shared accommodation awaits you in at these comfortable properties where you just need to bring your sleeping bag and food for the night. Families will enjoy a visit to the Stanley Mitchell Hut or Elizabeth Parker Hut, both located in Yoho National Park.
Stay at a wilderness hostel and rent your own private cabin
Hostelling International – Canada manages a network of ten wilderness hostels in the Canadian Rockies. Our favourites have private cabins that you can rent for a night or two and if you stay at the remote HI Hilda Creek you’ll only need 6 people to rent the entire hostel. Families will want to consider renting both bedrooms in the private cabin at HI Mosquito Creek which sleeps 10 people. Two families can comfortably share the space and you’ll have your own private wilderness retreat. Other hostels with private rooms or cabins for families are the HI Athabasca Falls in Jasper and the HI Kananaskis located below Kananaskis Village.
Paddle your way into to a scenic backcountry campground
The Point Backcountry Campground is located a short 3.4 km from the North Interlakes day use area in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park on Upper Kananaskis Lake. The hike is extremely easy and makes for a beginner-friendly first backcountry camping trip with children. Alternately, rent a canoe for the weekend and paddle across the lake in half an hour to reach your scenic lakeside campsite. Reservations can be made 90 days in advance of your intended trip, and this is a popular campground so plan early. More information can be found on the Alberta Parks website.
Sleep in a Yurt
Mount Engadine Lodge is a decadent resort located in Spray Valley Provincial Park outside of Canmore. A stay here includes all meals from your scrumptious breakfast to a packed lunch for your day’s adventures, afternoon tea and goodies, and a three course dinner with dessert. And while a stay here might be out of reach for many families, yurt-camping on the property is much more affordable. The Mount Engadine yurt sleeps a family of 4 and includes all meals just as you would receive if you were staying inside the lodge. The cost is still a bit “steep” for camping at $100 per person per night (discounted for children) but once you taste the food, you will know what you have paid for.
Explore the world of comfort camping with Alberta Parks or Parks Canada
Have a spouse who’s not entirely “fond” of camping? Stay in an O’TENTik in Banff, Jasper, or Kootenay National Park, or stay in a teepee in Waterton Lakes National Park this summer. Alberta Parks offers its own collection of comfortable accommodations too with canvas wall tents in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Writing on Stone Provincial Park, and Wyndham-Carseland Provincial Park. More information on comfort camping can be found on the Parks Canada website or on the Alberta Parks website.
There are many options for camping this summer. Get creative, try something new, and I’ll see you on the trails.