Top 5 Campgrounds within 3 hours of Lethbridge

By joanne lemna | August 31, 2017

Everyone wants an awesome campgrounds that isn’t too far from home. Choosing the best campgrounds within 3 hours of Lethbridge was an easy task for me because my family loves camping in Southern Alberta. We live for the classic “summer scorcher” and I am a self-proclaimed sun goddess choosing my campgrounds based on how much of the day I will be able to spend in a tank top without ever needing a long sleeved shirt or jacket.

These campgrounds are all set in premier locations with beautiful scenery lakes rivers beaches and trails. My family has camped at each of them and we’ve never been lacking for activities or fun things to do at each one.

 Writing on Stone Provincial Park 

Distance: 1.5 hours from Lethbridge.

This is one of our favourite campgrounds in Alberta for badlands scenery hiking trails through the hoodoos and a warm river you can spend hours floating down. Families wanting to float or paddle on the Milk River should aim to go around the end of June or early July when the river is high as it gets too shallow later in the season. Hikers will want to plan their trip for spring or fall when the temperatures are cooler. Visit in the middle of the summer and you’ll be in the river cooling off and definitely not hiking.

Insider Tip: Book early to get a power site in the summer so that you will be able to run the AC in your trailer or RV. There are some beautiful power sites right next to the beach area.

How you’ll entertain yourselves at camp:

  • Float the Milk River from the far end of camp down to the beach. Walk back up repeat. When you tire of floating relax on the beach and play in the shallow river.
  • Kayak canoe or stand up paddle your way down the Milk River from the Weir Bridge or from camp down to the Deer Creek Bridge. Both paddles will take you half a day and you can stop often to swim or play in mud along the river banks. (Note: there are no boat rentals in the park so plan ahead and rent in Lethbridge if you don’t have your own boats).
  • Hike the Hoodoo Trail past sandstone cliffs First Nations rock art (petroglyphs and pictographs) and towering hoodoos. The trail is 2.2 km one way and best done early or later in the day when temperatures are cooler.
  • Hike the Visitor Centre Trail from the campground where kids will find plenty of opportunities to scramble and climb amongst the rock.
  • Join an interpretive tour to learn more about the First Nations rock art and to see petroglyphs and pictographs up close from inside the private reserve.

 Elkwater Lake Cypress Hills Provincial Park Alberta 

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Distance: 2.5 hours from Lethbridge.

With 12 campgrounds and 4 group areas this is one of my favourite spots for a last minute reservation. If you book early you can get choice spots at the Elkwater Campground close to the beach trails playgrounds and all town amenities.

Insider Tip: Book a site in the C loop in the Elkwater Campground if camping with kids. There is a nice playground in the middle of the loop with a big grassy field.

How you’ll entertain yourselves at camp:

  • Hang out at the sandy beach on Elkwater Lake. There are also boat and bike rentals available from the marina including bike trailers for younger children. You can also enjoy a variety of watersports on the lake including water skiing wind surfing jet skiing or sailing.
  • Walk the 2.4 km shoreline trail along Elkwater Lake between the west end day use area and the east end day use area. Along your way you’ll pass multiple playgrounds a free mini-golf course a free disc golf course and boardwalk sections for bird watching. This trail is paved and great for kids learning to ride bikes.
  • Enjoy hiking or mountain biking on more than 50 km of trails in the park. And of note Cypress Hills Provincial Park has one of the longest hiking and biking seasons in Alberta from April through October. Thanksgiving camping trip anybody?
  • Go golfing at the Elkwater Park Golf Course.
  • Enjoy horseback riding with equestrian camping available at Spring Creek.
  • Take a sightseeing drive out to the Reesor or Horseshoe Canyon Viewpoints.
  • Go fishing at one of several lakes in the park.

 Waterton Springs Campground Waterton Lakes National Park 

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Distance: 1.5 hours from Lethbridge.

 Waterton Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Canada and shares an international peace border with neighboring Glacier National Park in the US. We love camping at Waterton Springs just outside the park gates. We drive into the national park for the day and then retreat to our campground for the night leaving the tourists behind in the town.

Insider Tip: This campground might be closing at the end of the 2017 season until new ownership can be arranged. In the meantime for 2018 consider camping in the national park at the Town Campground. From this campground you can bike all around the town site visit the town playground and spray park and ride downtown for ice-cream (all without ever jumping in a vehicle). It is also a clean and quiet campground that we’ve enjoyed in the past.

How you’ll entertain yourselves at camp:

  • Take a short walk in the nature reserve above camp fly a kite and admire the wild flowers.
  • Take a drive into the Waterton Townsite for the day or bike to town on the Kootenai Brown paved bike trail.
  • Take a hike in Waterton Lakes National Park. We love the Bears Hump Hike above the Visitor Centre.
  • Play tourist in Waterton! Visit the Red Rock Canyon and play in the creek or canoe across Cameron Lake (boat rentals available on site).
  • Rent stand up paddleboards from Blakiston and Company for a unique experience on Upper Waterton Lake.
  • Take the boat cruise across Upper Waterton Lake to the US border on the Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company – and no passports required!

 Beauvais Lake Provincial Park 

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Distance: 1.5 hours from Lethbridge.

This is a scenic campground set on a great lake for fishing and boating. It’s also a great base camp for day trips to nearby Castle Provincial Park or even into Waterton Lakes National Park.

Insider Tip: Bring bikes with you so that you can easily ride over to the North Shore Day Use Area and playground. We also enjoyed some of the multi-use trails on our bikes.

How you’ll entertain yourselves at camp:

  • Bike the Chipman Creek Trail and South Shore Trail as an easy mountain biking loop. The South trail is a little overgrown in spots but there are some scenic views and fun little hills near the Beaver Creek Day Use Area.
  • Enjoy boating and fishing on Beauvais Lake. You can also canoe or kayak on the peaceful lake if you bring your own boats. There are no rentals in the park.
  • Enjoy hiking on over 25 km of trails
  • Take a day trip to Beaver Mines Lake in nearby Castle Provincial Park and hike up Table Mountain for great views!
  • Take a day trip to Waterton Lakes Provincial Park (only one hour away).
  • Take a day trip to the Crowsnest Pass and visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre (only 30 minutes away).

 Little Bow Provincial Park 

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Distance: 1 hour from Lethbridge.

This is a great campground for families wanting to chill at a great sandy beach enjoy some boating and water sports and find close camping to Lethbridge. It’s so close to the city you’ll be at camp in time for dinner!

Insider Tip: Bring bikes to commute between your campsite and the beach. A wagon can also be very useful if walking back and forth loaded down with sand toys and supplies for a few hours at the lake.

How you’ll entertain yourselves at camp:

  • Spend the day at the beach rent a boat or take your own canoe kayak or stand up paddleboard out on the water.
  • You can enjoy a variety of watersports on the lake including water skiing wind surfing jet skiing or sailing.
  • Spend a few hours fishing from shore or out in a boat