Marble Canyon Campground is a fabulous location to go car camping in Kootenay National Park. The campsites are best for car camping in tents (they are a little small for most RVs.) Each site is surrounded by trees so it feels cozy and private. There are oodles of incredible hikes nearby if you want to stretch your legs. There are also some viewpoints and natural wonders that are easy to reach if you’re less keen on walking.
Marble Canyon Campground is a little shabby if you are used to posher campgrounds with new facilities. Still, it is as cheap as chips and everything works if you don’t mind amenities that look a bit battered.
Marble Canyon Campground Location
Marble Canyon Campground is opposite Marble Canyon at the north end of Kootenay National Park. It is 17km from the turn-off on the Trans Canada Highway (1) onto the Banff-Windemere Highway (93.) This is just over 30 mins drive from both Lake Louise and Banff.
Marble Canyon Map
There are 61 Campsites available normally. Most of the sites are arranged around loops of 6 campsites, with other amenities sitting in between those loops.
Marble Canyon Campground Facilities
- Flushing loos
- Fire pits and picnic benches at all sites
- Some pull through sites for small/medium sized RVs
- Drinking water (and sani dumps for the RV-folks)
- Firewood. You shouldn’t bring wood from outside the park in case you bring parasites like the pine beetles.
- Covered cooking/dining area in case you need to cook in the rain
- Food lockers
- Recycling and garbage bins
Camping at Marble Canyon pros and cons
Marble Canyon’s campsites are quite small. You are only meant to have one tent per site, and there are only a few sites available for RVs. It’s quite nice to be car camping somewhere that seems designed for tents. Most of the available sites were booked when we visited, but there are so many trees that it feels calm and private. Oh, and it’s cheap compared to camping in Banff or Jasper; Just $23!
The downside is the highway is close enough that you may be woken up by the large trucks zooming through in the morning. The campground facilities have also seen better days – it’s all a little dilapidated.
Be aware, you will not have cell service in most parts of Kootenay National Park, including Marble Canyon. This means you won’t be able to spend time on your phone, so you’ll be forced to unplug and enjoy the time in your tent or hammock. It also means you may want paper hiking maps, or at least download maps to your phone before you reach the campsite!
The most important rule about camping in the Rockies is keeping a bare campsite. Basically you need to pack away all food, food-related items (cups, plates, pans, grills etc.), and anything that has a scent that might attract bears. Store things in your vehicle or in the bear-proof storage lockers. Never leave any of food or these items unattended for even a minute, and do not keep them inside your tent.
Booking a campsite at Marble Canyon
You can reserve spots to camp here in advance. Use the Frontcountry campground website to book. There are 61 campsites available.
Open Dates: June 23 to September 4
Marble Canyon Campground fees: (you also need to pay a $11.50 non refundable reservation fee on top of this.)
Unserviced, with fire pit: $23.00
Plus $9.25 for the campfire permit per day
– Max people per site: 6 people
– Max 1 vehicles & 1 tent OR Max 1 RV/trailer/camper van per site
Marble Canyon Campground vs Redstreak Campground
Both campgrounds are great places to stay, so you’ll probably want to choose whichever campground is closest to the trails or sights you’d like to visit. Redstreak is larger (and the individual campsites are more spacious.) It is also much closer to facilities like shops and the hot springs. It’s further away from the hikes in the Northern part of Kootenay National Park, but really good for adventures in the Columbia Valley. Restreak has a warmer climate as it is at a lower elevation at the edge of the mountains.
Marble Canyon is smaller, and close to the road so louder, it also has less impressive facilities. However it is also cheaper, and much closer to Banff and Lake Louise. If you want to explore the Northern part of Kootenay National Park or Banff, it’s better to stay here.
Wait, what is car camping?
Car camping (or front country camping) doesn’t mean you sleep in the car. It just means you carry all your camping equipment in the car and park right next to where you set up your campsite. We really like this style of camping as it means we can be luxurious with things like real pillows. It also allows us to use the fire pits to cook more elaborate food (we can even use our cast iron pan).
Campfires at Marble Canyon
When we stayed at Marble Canyon the fire permit was not included in the price when you book a campsite. However you can pay with cash after you arrive. We LOVE cooking on campfires, so we paid the extra.
Invasive insects and pests can live in firewood so you should always use local firewood to protect the forests. You do not have to pay for the firewood (it’s included with the fire permit.) Just wander over to the log pile and pick up what you need.
As always, we had fun cooking next to our tent. My favourite meal was spatchcock chicken on the campfire. We rubbed harissa into the chicken which went really well with the smokey campfire flavour.
We made couscous as a side dish. Our trick to make this tasty was to render the chicken skin in our pan to get some flavorful fat to cook some of the vegetables
We then used the leftover chicken for pesto pasta the following day.
We don’t always bother cooking breakfast when we’re camping (we’re more likely to munch fruit and head straight out on a hike!) But we did make chocolate porridge one day, and French toast on our lazy day. Both work great as camping food.
Hikes Near Marble Canyon
Hiking in Kootenay National Park, and nearby in Banff National Park is incredible! There are countless options for all skill levels. We found the area close to Marble Canyon was a lot quieter than the busy trails near Lake Louise or Banff. But this is a pretty good base to reach any of them. Here are a few ideas…
- Marble Canyon (super easy, not busy and really gorgeous.)
- Stanley Glacier (intermediate or challenging depending how far you go… one of the best hikes near the campsite)
- Dog Lake (easy hike to one of the prettiest places I have ever been swimming.)
- Cross the Vermilion River to hike along the Simpson River
- The area around Moraine Lake (with so many options like Sentinel Pass, Eiffel Lake & Consolation Lake)
- The area around Lake Louise (with a bunch of trails like the Plain of the Six Glaciers, Big Beehive, Fairview Mountain and Paradise Valley to Lake Annette.)
- Paint Pots (Another easy trail near here, to reach bright orange and green pools of water.)
This map shows all of our adventures in BC and Alberta. You can zoom in to the area around Kootenay National Park to see all the hikes mentioned above (and more!)
I would be happy to come back and stay here again. This may be one of the shabbiest campgrounds we have visited in BC, but Marble Canyon is pretty amazing for it’s fabulous location and bargainous price. What do you think?