When it comes to adventuring, there can sometimes be a bit of stress with trying to sort out the logistics.
From all the excursions that you want to experience, the places you want to see and the people you may want to meet along the way, there are many variables that come together to ensure an unforgettable journey. And where you sleep at night can make or break your memories from a trip.
That is why the staff here at Glacier Raft Company have compiled a list of our favourite free (that’s right!), or very cheap, campsites near our lovely mountain town.
We have tried and tested all of them ourselves so you don’t have to. Here's to a good nights sleep, in the mountains, under the stars!
1. CEDAR LAKE
This one is for those coming into Golden B.C. who are looking for a sweet spot to crash that is still fairly close to downtown.
Situated near one of the warmest lakes in Golden (you can swim in it - it’s cool, but refreshing!), these small tent campgrounds provide a great spot if you don't want to drive too far out of town, but still want to get away from commercial campgrounds and lots of people.
Located about 12 kilometers up the mountain towards the ski resort in Golden, this small camping area is well maintained and links up to one of Golden’s most extensive trail networks – the Moonrakers.
If you like hiking or mountain biking this is a great place to stay as you'll be at the gateway of kilometres and kilometres of amazing single track trails. If you're interested, you can read about some of our favourite trails here.
The lake itself is fairly popular with locals so you won’t be too secluded during the day, but things quiet down as the sun starts setting. It is home to a sandy beach and is more suitable for tents, as it is too small for trailers and RV’s.
Follow the road up to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (7th Street North) for about 12 minutes until you see a green sign to Cedar Lake. Turn left and follow the arrows towards the campground.
This is a recreation site so camping is all first come first serve. The cost for this campsite is roughly $10.
*Note - this is a dog friendly camping option
2. GORMAN LAKE
If you're looking for a bit more adventure, Gorman Lake is a wonderful little hideaway. Bring your backpacks and hiking shoes because there is a 3.3-kilometer hike to the lake. Once you're there, though, beautiful mountain peaks and a stunning lake will be your company for the evening.
The hike itself is beautiful too. There are some little climbs, but its mostly a well worn in, windy trail that's suitable to all abilities.
An open area near the lake is ideal for camping, and there are a few fire pits too.
Also, keep your eye out for a canoe by the lake. It’s there all summer and is free for everyone to enjoy.
To access the trailhead, you'll drive down the Dogtooth Forest Service Road. You turn right off of 7th Street North in Golden, and then you'll turn right again onto Golf Course Drive. You'll see Dogtooth FSR on the left just before you come to the golf course.
The road leading to the trailhead can be quite bumpy at times, so a truck is definitely ideal. We've made it in cars too, though, as long as you're okay with a bit more excitement.
An extra heads up that the hiking trail itself may still have snow until July.
* Note - this is a dog friendly hiking and camping option
3. WAPTA FALLS
If you are looking for a campsite with an amazing view, roughly 30 minutes east of town, then the Wapta Falls Recreation Site is the place to go.
This camping area has only a few sites available, but the view is spectacular. Wapta Falls, the largest waterfall of the Kicking Horse River, is visible from the site making this one of the more visually stimulating campsites in the area, and the roar from the rushing water is very calming.
This campsite is a bit off the beaten track so it's not usually too busy, and it’s located just outside of the Yoho National Park boundary which means you will have some extra time to sleep in if you're hoping to hike within the park itself. Plus, to get down to the base of the waterfall is easy!
There are two access points down to Wapta Falls. The common access point is from Highway 1 on the north side of the river, but it can also be accessed from the south side of the river from the Beaverfoot Road. Since you'll be camping on the south side, anyways, it's well worth taking this route down. You won't be as close to the falls but you'll have the beach to yourself and avoid the National Park crowds - especially in July and August.
To access the campsite, take the exit off Highway 1 to Beaverfoot Road. Follow this road for seven kilometres until you see a sign for Wapta Falls Recreation Site on your left.
*Note - this is a dog friendly camping option
4. PREACHERS POINT
This one is great for locals looking to get out of Golden for a bit, or if you're going to be driving through the Icefields Parkway (aka the highway linking Lake Louise and Jasper).
This secluded campsite is ideal for those looking to escape all amenities for the night, as you won’t find any cell service - or even stores – nearby.
Hiking trails are abundant in the area, and the scenery itself is worth the drive alone. RV’s, cars and tents all have room to snuggle up nicely beside the majestic Abraham Lake.
This campsite is located right off the fairly deserted Highway 11, towards Nordegg. To get to Highway 11, you head up the Icefields Parkway (Highway 95) to the North Saskatchewan River Crossing. Here, you turn right and head east towards Nordegg.
Be on the lookout for the turnoff for Preachers Point Staging Area on your right. It appears shortly after your first full view of Abraham Lake – about 15 minutes once you turn of Highway 95 (past the Siffluer Falls trailhead).
Get out and enjoy the wild nature that surrounds Golden, B.C. With all of these gorgeous camping areas right at our doorstep, everyone here at Glacier is very aware of how fortunate we are.
Live an adventure!
Cheers from the Glacier crew.