AREA CLOSURE: All of Waterton Lakes National Park with some exceptions
Backcountry camping is a great way to experience the wilderness of Waterton Lakes National Park. There are nine wilderness campgrounds in the park:
- Alderson Lake
- Bertha Bay
- Bertha Lake
- Boundary Bay
- Crandell Lake
- Goat Lake
- Lone Lake
- Twin Lakes
Check the park map for their locations.
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 for each adult camper. There is no charge for children aged 16 and under. Annual wilderness passes may be purchased and are valid for backcountry camping at all mountain national parks in western Canada.
Reservations are available for wilderness campsites. A non-refundable reservation fee is charged. Reservations for backcountry trips may be made 90 days in advance beginning April 1 of each year. Call the visitor centre at (403) 859-5133.
Reservations must be paid for at the time of booking by credit card (MasterCard, American Express or VISA). 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.
Non designated or random camping may be permitted in certain circumstances. Prior permission from a Resource Conservation officer is required and all wilderness camping regulations and fees apply. Fires are not permitted and all campsites must be 50m from any watercourse.
Requests for refunds must be made prior to commencing your trip. If you cancel a reservation at least 3 days 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 3 days 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.
Wilderness camping regulations
- Wilderness camping is permitted at designated campgrounds only. Tents must be placed on tent pads provided at each site. Tent pads measure 2.7m x 2.7 m (9'x9'). 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 10m (30') 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 50m 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:
- tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad
- adequate clothing, rain gear, hiking boots or sturdy shoes
- adequate food, gas stove, fuel and matches, cooking gear bowl/plate, cup, and cutlery
- water bottle
- first aid kit
- toilet paper
- rope, minimum 10m (30')
You may want to bring:
- hat, sunglasses, sun screen
- insect repellent
- extra socks
- topographic map, compass
Be considerate of other users! At campsites let nature's sounds prevail. Keep loud voices and noises to a minimum.
More about hazards and safety in the park.