Backcountry camping is a great way to experience the wilderness of Waterton Lakes National Park. There are nine backcountry campgrounds in the park:
- Alderson Lake
- Bertha Bay
- Bertha Lake
- Boundary Bay
- Crandell Lake Closed due to infrastructure damage from the Kenow Wildfire
- Goat Lake Closed due to infrastructure damage from the Kenow Wildfire
- Lone Lake
- Twin Lakes
All are designated campgrounds with outhouses, tent pads, food storage cables and picnic tables. Fires are allowed at Bertha Bay, Boundary Bay, Crandell Lake, Lone Lake and Snowshoe, these campgrounds have metal fire rings.
All nine backcountry campgrounds are accessible by maintained hiking trails.
Map: Check the park map for their locations.
The information below is designed to help you plan a safe and enjoyable visit of Waterton Lakes National Park's backcountry, while keeping the natural environment as healthy as possible.
Fees and reservations
A backcountry use permit is required for overnight stays in the backcountry. Permits are available from the Waterton Lakes National Park visitor centre. There is a nightly fee of $10.02 for each adult camper. There is no charge for children aged 16 and under.
Reservations are available for backcountry campsites. A non-refundable reservation fee of $11.96 is charged. Reservations for backcountry trips may be made up to 90 days in advance.
Phone number: Call the visitor centre at (403) 859-5133 to reserve your backcountry campsite.
All camping and reservation fees must be paid for at the time of booking by credit or debit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB or UnionPay). Before calling, please have the following information:
- dates of trip
- campgrounds preferred
- number of adults and children in party
- credit card information
- contact address and phone number
- model and licence plate of vehicle
Permits must be picked up at the visitor centre no sooner than 24 hours in advance of the start date of the trip.
Requests for refunds must be made prior to commencing your trip. If you cancel a reservation at least 48 hours prior to your scheduled day of arrival, you will receive a full refund less the original non-refundable reservation fee and the cancellation fee.
If you cancel a reservation less than 48 hours prior to your scheduled day of arrival, you will receive a full refund less the original non-refundable reservation fee and the fees for the first night of camping.
Reservation fees are non-refundable. Once you have started your trip, refunds are not given for inclement weather. Trips that are cancelled due to park management actions, such as trail or campground closures, will receive a full refund including the reservation fee.
Non-designated or random camping in Waterton Lakes National Park during the summer season is only permitted at Lineham Lakes. During the winter, random camping is allowed at other locations. All wilderness camping regulations and fees apply year round.
Information and camping permits can be obtained at the Visitor Centre on Fountain Avenue in Waterton townsite, or by telephone at 403-859-5133.
Backcountry camping regulations
- Backcountry camping is permitted at designated campgrounds only. Tents must be placed on tent pads provided at each site. Tent pads measure 2.7 m x 2.7 m (9 ft. x 9 ft.). There is a limit of one tent per tent pad. Most sites have four tent pads. The party size can be between 1 and 6 people but the maximum persons per campsite is 9 to 12, depending on the number of tent pads at the site.
- Gas stoves are required for cooking at backcountry campsites, but certain sites allow fires in designated fire pits. If you do choose to have a fire, it should be kept small and extinguished completely. Gather only small pieces of dead and down wood. All fires may be prohibited when the fire hazard is extreme.
- Water sources are available at each campground. Water should be treated or boiled before use. Food must be cooked and consumed at the designated cooking area away from the tent pads. Don't eat or store food near your tent as this could attract wildlife. Store food, cooking gear, garbage and toiletries on the bear poles provided at each site. You will need to bring 10 m (30 ft.) of rope.
- Pit toilets are located at each campground. Urination around your campsite attracts wildlife and leads to vegetation damage. Remember to bring toilet paper.
- Don't wash yourself, clothes or cooking gear in lakes or streams. Remove all food scraps from grey water and scatter at least 50 m from campsite or water source. Pack out all food remnants along with all your garbage.
Before heading out for an overnight stay in Waterton's backcountry, consider the items you will need to take to make your trip safe and enjoyable.
You need to bring:
- backcountry permit
- tent, groundsheet, sleeping bag, sleeping pad
- adequate clothing, rain gear, hiking boots or sturdy shoes
- adequate food, gas stove, fuel and matches, cooking and eating utensils
- garbage bags to pack out all food and personal trash
- water bottle / water treatment or filter
- first aid kit
- basic toiletries and toilet paper
- rope, minimum 10 m (30 ft.)
- bear spray
- trip plan (left with a friend or family member)
You may want to bring:
- hat, sunglasses, sun screen
- insect repellent
- extra socks
- headlamp or flashlight
- topographic map, compass, GPS
- pocket knife or multi-tool
- Trekking poles
Be considerate of other users! At campsites let nature's sounds prevail. Keep loud voices and noises to a minimum.