Waterton Backcountry Camping: Top 15 Campgrounds

waterton backcountry camping
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Waterton backcountry camping is permitted at designated areas only make the most of everything the season brings and experience the rugged and untamed wilderness. Waterton lakes national park is in the southwest corner of Alberta, Canada, and thundering waterfalls, clear lakes, colorful rocks, rainbow-colored streams, and mountain vistas are present in the park, and it contains more than 400 flowering plant species.

Common animals that are seen in the Waterton Lakes National Park include black bear, bighorn sheep, Columbian ground squirrels, mule deer, elk, moose, white-tailed deer, grey jay, American dipper, mountain chickadee, red squirrels, snowshoe hares, marten, cougar, and bobcat or lynx.

Bird watching is another way to explore, all year round, and Waterton Lakes National Park is home to more than 250 species of birds. Common bird species are mallard, Canada Goose, common merganser, barrow’s goldeneye, golden eagle, osprey, western wood-pewee, red-tailed hawk, house wren, tree swallow, common goldeneye, ruffed grouse, downy woodpecker, bald eagle, Canada jay, hairy woodpecker, black-billed magpie, and steller’s jay.

Waterton Backcountry Camping

The backcountry campgrounds are present in Waterton Lakes National Park, and they are Lone lake, Snowshoe, Boundary bay,  Goat lake, Bertha lake, Crandell lake, Twin lakes, Bertha bay, Lineham lakes, and Alderson lake.

Except for Lineham lakes, all the backcountry campsites have facilities of tent pads, picnic tables, outhouses, and food storage bins. Backcountry campsites are accessible by using the park’s hiking trails and campgrounds; such as Boundary Bay and Bertha Bay, which are accessible by personal watercraft.

Each backcountry campground is provided with a variety of campground facilities to ensure your comfort in the great outdoors the limit for tent pads is 4 tent pads for each campsite, and the maximum number of people allowed is 3 per tent pad and water sources and pit toilets are present at each campsite, but it is required to bring toilet paper. For cooking, gas stoves are required at backcountry campsites, but some campsites such as Boundary bay, Lone lake, Bertha bay, Crandell lake, and Snowshoe allow fires in designated metal fire rings.

Waterton park contains grizzly bears and black bears, so be knowledgeable of bear safety. However, bear encounters are very low, but when hiking and or on the trails, carry bear spray and know how to use bear spray if a bear encounters you, don’t run and stay calm, back up slowly, do not stare at the bear and in case of emergency, use the bear sprays.

A sheltered winter camping is offered by the pass creek day-use area on the basis of first-come, first-served, and camping permits and registration are not required. The prerequisites are a parking pass, a Waterton backcountry camping permit, and a fire permit, and it is required for campers are to register with their Waterton backcountry camping campsite at self-registration centers, and it is advisable to display Waterton backcountry camping permits wherever required.

1. Lone Lake

Lone Lake is pretty much lonely, as derived from the name, and is one of the most remote campsites in Waterton backcountry camping.

Lone Lake is more enjoyable. Lone lake trail is accessed via the south Kootenay pass, and it is a day, moderate and open hike. It takes hikers to the most scenic views and best-kept secrets of Waterton.

2. Boundary Bay

It is an easy trail to follow, and the trail starts at Bertha lake trailhead and ends at the U.S.-Canada border on the west shore of upper Waterton lake. This remote Waterton backcountry camping campground is accessible only by boat from Canada or by foot trails.

3. Snowshoe

When the snow is deep, snowshoeing is easier and more accessible. Snowshoeing from the Akamina parkway, drive up to little prairie day use area to snowshoe to Cameron lake, and the other best areas to snowshoe in Waterton backcountry camping are Red Rock parkway, Crandell lake, and Wishbone trail.

4. Goat Lake

The wildlife, wildflowers, and mountain views that are seen along the way to Goat lake are very beautiful and make it worth the journey in Waterton backcountry camping.

Goat lake hike is a day, difficult, open, and guided hike, and the trail is accessed from red Rock canyon, following the snowshoe trail. Mountain goats are present above the cliffs.

5. Bertha Lake

The hike is a guided moderate day hike, and the southwest side of Waterton townsite is the Bertha lake trail starting point the extending view includes upper Waterton lake and edging around the peaks of the east side. A short trip around Bertha lake provides a quieter experience and is well-known in Waterton backcountry camping. Wildlife sightings are a welcome perk of Bertha lake, and permits can be purchased by visiting the Parks Canada Visitor Centre.

6. Crandell Lake

This area is very popular for hiking, fishing, and camping, and the best times to visit are April through September and is a beautiful lakeside campsite in Waterton backcountry camping that is framed by stunning peaks in the Canadian Rockies. This lakeside campground can be reached by two routes, via the Red Rock Parkway or from Akamina Parkway, and the route begins near the Crandell mountain campground.

7. Twin Lakes

It is a multi-day, difficult, open, and guided hike and is accessible via the Blakiston valley trail or Snowshoe cabin trail and is visited as a Waterton backcountry camping overnight hike; the areas surrounding them are filled with bear grass and wildflowers.

8. Bertha Bay

Bertha bay is very popular for birding, backpacking, and Waterton backcountry camping the trail is beautiful and open year-round, and the campsite contains cooking areas and bear lockers. The views of the surrounding mountains and upper Waterton lake are amazing, and for overnight stays, the prerequisite is a backcountry use permit. 

Permits and reservations are available and can be purchased and made from the Waterton Visitor Center. For the cooking purposes, gas stoves are required, and water sources are available and should be boiled or treated before use.

9. Lineham Lakes

Lineham lakes are accessible via  Lineham creek or a difficult hike past Rowe lakes in Waterton backcountry camping, and Lineham trail is a day hike visiting a waterfall, and along the route are views of Cameron lake and Mount Linehan. Just beyond the cliff at the end of the trail are the Lineman lakes.

10. Alderson lake

It is a day, moderate and open hike and is situated at Cameron falls in the townsite and offers fishing and Waterton backcountry camping Alderson lake is approached by hiking the Carthew Alderson trail. To reach the aquamarine waters of Alderson lake, a continuous, steady, and long climb through a diverse forest is needed, and it is put extending the impressive high areas of mount Alderson here, a Waterton backcountry camping campsite is located. Additionally, at this alpine lake, fishing is a very popular activity.

11. Crandell Mountain Campground

It is situated along the side of red rock parkway, and 129 unserviced sites are provided on a first-come, first-served basis and based on the weather, it is opened mid-May to early September, and it is a well-maintained, reservable, and developed campground. Due to extensive damage from a wildfire in 2007, the Crandell mountain campground remained closed for a long time, and for more information, visit the Parks Canada website for more information.

12. Belly River Campground

Belly river campground is situated in an enjoyable area of mixed aspen forest, exactly beside the Belly river, along the side of Chief mountain highway, and the animals that are common in the area are deer, bears, and foxes. This campground provides 24 unserviced sites on a first come, first served basis with a self-registration facility, and campfire grills are available on all sites. However, potable water is not available, and bringing your own water or filtering system is required.

Group camping facilities are present in this campground, and this camping area is for groups with a minimum of 25 people and a maximum of 100 people.

13. Waterton Townsite Campground

This campground is situated towards upper Waterton lake in the south end side of Waterton village and provides 246 sites, with 109 fully serviced and 76 back-in electrical sites the campground facilities include dumping stations, showers and washrooms.

All sites in this campground are reservable, and reservations are advisable the peak season is from mid-June through September. Kitchen shelters are allowed for fires in townsite campgrounds, and it is required to buy a fire permit at self-registration centers. For more information, go through Parks Canada, and a parking pass and a camping permit are needed for you to enjoy the camping.

14. Cameron Lake

It is located at the end of the Akamina Parkway, Alberta, Canada, enclosed by tall mountain cliffs and sub-alpine forests full of wildlife and is nestled between the majestic mountain peaks and is one of many serene bodies of water and is also a great place to rent a canoe. Grizzly bears are common animals in the area, and spending a few hours in complete relaxation is worthful it is advisable to visit this lake from May until October 31. Activities like hiking and boating are also available.

15. Cameron Falls

It is a short and easy hike, and the falls are located in the corner of the townsite and are the most famous, most photographed, and must-see landmark to visit, with plenty of parking and accessible viewing.

Watch the views of fresh mountain water flowing that is situated directly below a billion-year-old Precambrian rock; it feels good to experience the cool weather by standing on the viewing bridge, and the spectacular Cameron falls appear from a different perspective by walking on the short paved path.

Bottom Line

Picnicking and sightseeing are the major activities in Waterton Lakes National Park, and it is advisable to visit this park with family on road trips for sport and sightseeing, and it is good to have the best enjoyable hiking and Waterton backcountry camping season.

Plan a safe Waterton backcountry camping while helping in protecting the wildlife, contributing to its survival and treating them with respect.

An enthusiastic tourist and traveler to many different beautiful spots across India and the world. Sharada works as a Customer Service Representative for Skrealtyconsultants. With a Masters in Computer Science, she loves reading spiritual books and visit both spiritual and nature loving places around the world. Sharada takes you through some of the best travel secrets, that she has come across.