The Top 15 Backcountry Campgrounds for an Unforgettable Experience in Waterton

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Take a trip to the wild side of Waterton Lakes National Park, where those looking for a genuine connection to nature can discover the beauties of the backcountry. With this guide, you will easily locate the finest 15 backcountry campgrounds in Waterton, offering a unique experience under the big, starry skies.

These campgrounds provide an immersive experience with the pristine beauty of Waterton, delivering a getaway into the heart of wildness. Come along on this tour as we discover the best backcountry campsites by navigating through beautiful landscapes, promising an unforgettable adventure.

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 has various facilities to ensure comfort in the great outdoors. The limit for tent pads is four for each campsite, and the maximum number of people allowed is 3 per tent pad.

Water sources and pit toilets are present at each campsite, but it is required to bring toilet paper. Gas stoves are required for cooking 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 and black bears, so know about bear safety. Bear encounters are shallow, but when hiking 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 use the bear sprays in case of emergency.

The Pass Creek day-use area offers sheltered winter camping based on 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 it is campers are to register with their Waterton backcountry camping campsite at self-registration centers, and it is best to display Waterton backcountry camping permits wherever required.

1. Lone Lake

Lone Lake is lonely, 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, starting at Bertha Lake trailhead and ending 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, and use the area to snowshoe to Cameron Lake.

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 seen along the way to Goat Lake are beautiful and make the journey in Waterton backcountry camping worthwhile.

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. It is a beautiful lakeside campsite in Waterton backcountry camping, 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 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 can be purchased and made from the Waterton Visitor Center. Gas stoves are required for cooking; 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.

Lineham trail is a day hike visiting a waterfall, and along the route are views of Cameron Lake and Mount Linehan. The Lineman Lakes are just beyond the cliff at the trail’s end.

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.

It extends the impressive high areas of Mount Alderson here; a Waterton backcountry camping campsite is located. Additionally, at this alpine lake, fishing is a viral 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 open from 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, for more information, visit the Parks Canada website.

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 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 reserved, and reservations are best. 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 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. It is nestled between the majestic mountain peaks and is one of many serene bodies of water.

It 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 worthwhile. It is advisable to visit this lake from May until October 31. Activities like hiking and boating are also available.

2014-Nov-16 Diving at Cameron Bay, Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada

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 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. 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 protect the wildlife, contributing to its survival, and treating it with respect.

Last Updated on by Sparsh Sehgal

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