When February rolls around, my husband and I sit down with the kids and decide which campground we’ll visit over the summer. Alberta Parks campground reservation website is up and running by the third week of February and the popular campsites tend to sell out quickly.
Whether we take the RV, tent or rent a cabin, we always discover something new. We've hiked switchback trails up to hidden mountaintop lakes, waded with pelicans, played on soft white sand beaches and seen prehistoric dinosaur bones. At night, we roast wieners over the campfire, master our toasted marshmallows and gaze up at millions of twinkling stars.
Camping at the Farm
My little animal lovers were thrilled with the cute critters at Ol' MacDonalds Resort, on the shore of Buffalo Lake in central Alberta. After naming all the baby goats in the petting zoo, we rented bikes, played mini-golf, built sandcastles on the beach, swam in the lake and rode the mini-train a whole bunch of times.
Another favourite farm focused campground is The Great Canadian Barn Dance in southwestern Alberta. We all loved digging into a home-cooked prime beef dinner, watching the live stage show and taking the old fashioned horse-drawn wagon ride around the lake. By the time we carried the little ones back to our lakeside RV lot, we were ready for some quiet time together, snuggled up with a cup of hot chocolate.
Tipi Camping in Waterton Lakes National Park
As I watched stars sparkle through the top of our tipi, my head was filled with herds of stampeding buffalo, mischievous coyotes and colourful Blackfoot dancers. We’d had a busy day at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Alberta, about an hour from Waterton Lakes National Park. After touring the huge interpretive centre, hiking to the buffalo jump and watching traditional hoop dancing, it was pretty darn cool to return to our very own teepee in Waterton’s Crandell Mountain campground.
Parks Canada oTENTiks
We reserved our tipi through Parks Canada, which also offers fully equipped oTENTik campsites in Jasper National Park. Since we were married there, Jasper is a special place for us and we go at least once a year. This summer, we're booking the oTENTiks cottage tent at Whistlers Campground, which is a short 3 km (1.8 mi) bike ride to town along the Athabasca River. We'll bunk among the towering pines in a cross between a tent and a cabin with heat, lights and a floor. Oh the indulgence!