Camping at Marble Canyon – Kootenay National Park

Camping at Marble Canyon – Kootenay National Park

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.

Aaaand relax

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!

Bare 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.

Campfire meals

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…

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?

Camping at the beautiful Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park Marble Canyon Campground, Kootenay National Park, Canada Camp at Marble Canyon Camground, near Banff, Canada

48 thoughts on “Camping at Marble Canyon – Kootenay National Park

  1. What a fabulous place to camp, looks so quiet and peaceful. Bit scary having to lock food and drink away because of bears but I guess you’re used to that now in your part of the world. Fabulous photos.

    1. It was pretty great (even if the facilities had seen better days)

      Yeah, the bears don’t really want to go near humans, so it’s not scary as long as you keep a clean campsite. I guess my main fear is that other campers don’t do the same (so put everyone in danger…)

    1. Do you mean the photo? No, that is one of the grizzly bears at Grouse Mountain. I’ve never been that close to a wild grizz. I would have told you if I had!!

  2. A covered cooking area AND flush toilets?! Sounds fancy to me! (I don’t think I’ve ever stayed at a place that had a covered cooking area!) We also frequent National Forest campgrounds that usually only have vault toilets. 🙂

    1. Not bad eh!? It’s often the same in Provincial Parks in Canada, but the Canadian National Park (Front Country) campgrounds have really good facilities! Some even have showers.

  3. This is my kind of camping! And kudos – you guys ate like kings! I need to take a page from your book. We don’t normally eat such beautiful meals when camping.

    1. It’s funny you say that, as we had a massive thunderstorm so we got to listen to crazy rain on the tent and see countless flashes of lighting… but there were so many tall trees that we still felt safe and cozy.

      Bear-wise, yeah it’s so close to the road, that I felt safe. I am way more wary when we camp in the wilderness…but this felt totally fine.

  4. Awesome campground in the Kootenay National Park. You always have the best places to camp and hike. We love seeing your pictures and reading about epic things to do outdoors in Canada.

    1. I was thinking the same thing about your camping post today! I guess at some point, we’ll have to come South to camp in the sunshine, and you’ll have to come North to see the Canadian camping spots. 😀

  5. Loved this article – so much inspiration. Definitely adding to my list. Also, your camping cooking is on another level. Cannot believe you made these masterpieces while camping!

    1. Thanks Polly! That chicken was mostly down to my husband. It was sooo good though…I feel like harissa paste is a secret weapon for tasty camping grub!

  6. Wow, your food photos look so yummy! Pinning this post for later so I can find good camping food ideas. Marble Canyon looks like a beautiful area.

    1. Thanks Jenn! What kind of food do you guys normally make when you camp? Our go to is normally chilli…but we’re slowing trying new things.

  7. Your photos are amazing (as is the camp food btw!). Totally brought back memories of our day in Kootenay. We ended up there by accident, but enjoyed a hike in Marble Canyon, as well as taking a drive through the park!

    1. Marble Canyon is gorgeous isn’t it! I am not sure why it is not as famous as the nearby Johnston Canyon (as it is just as pretty, but with far smaller crowds…)

  8. So beautiful and peaceful! Would love to camp at the Marble Canyon Campground in Kootenay National Park. I tried SUV camping for the first time last year and loved it!

    1. Right!? It was good for getting started early in the morning too as we weren’t kept up late with loud neighbors….

    1. Thanks Krista!

      Yeah, I didn’t really notice how shabby it was at the time…it was only when I compared it to other campgrounds in the Rockies that I spotted it seems to have received less care than the others…

  9. I just reserved a trip to the Kootenays this fall so this is awesome to read. I’m starting at Paint Pots but might have to check this out too. Your camping food looks way better than mine ever does. Always fun to see what others do when camping

    1. Woot woot! I am so excited that we both get to attempt the Rockwall this year. I hope we both get good weather!

  10. I did a lot of camping as a kid and would love to get back out there! I’ve never camped in Canada before though; that bear looks intimidating – but also, what an awesome photo! Did you take that shot on one of your trips? Xx Sara

    1. So that bear wasn’t in the wild, it’s one of the grizzly bears at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver. It was orphaned as a cub, so lives in the resort where you can get up close. 🙂

      We did see grizzly bears in the Rockies, but it was from reeeeally far away, so it was exciting rather than terrifying.

  11. I’m not much of a camper, but I would like to visit Marble Canyon. It reminds of a cross between the Natural Bridge and Where the Waters Meet. Just gorgeous.

  12. I went to Banff a couple decades ago, and have been itching to get back – this is inspiring me to go again soon! Also wow, your camping food looks incredible!

    1. Banff is brilliant isn’t it!? We have only really hiked there when there was snow, so we are keen to go back and explore more.

      This areas is close to Banff, but way less busy.

  13. I wouldn’t mind a dilapidated campsite a bit if I had all those great views around me, plus all that great food! Sign me up!

  14. You two eat really well when camping – I’m glad we got to sample that with you in Manning 🙂 We usually just cheat and eat out… We haven’t stayed at any of the Kootenay NP campgrounds but I know what you mean about staying at a place that seems more geared towards us tent campers. There’s no doubt it’s really convenient for those hikes!

    1. Oooh we eat out too! It’s just we also looove cooking on campfires. I think the chicken we made with you guys was pretty similar to what we made in Marble Canyon. 🙂

  15. I lived in Calgary for 2 yrs and spent most of my time hiking in the Kootenays as opposed to Banff. It’s changed over the last decade – the Instagram crowd making it obscenely busy. But I’ve camped at Marble Canyon twice. In 2019, returning there from Vancouver with my ageing dog. Campsite was great. But my dog actually died on that trip. In the car. In that campground. No cell service and no emergency vets in Banff or Canmore made it worse. Dog Bloat was the cause – not that I knew that then. Even though I vowed to never return, I did. The plan was for 2020 – but, of course – covid. So, in 2021 I went to Marble Canyon where I spread his ashes. We had spent so much time there. I stayed at the campsite and although it was a solemn trip, it’s a remote beauty. Less noisy (and family friendly)then the Banff area. If you happen to hike Marble Canyon, you just may see the marker I left for my best boy there.

    Great review. Yes, there are things that can be certainly improved at the campsite. But finding a place that caters to tenters more than RV campers, is rare.

    1. Oh my goodness Chris that is awful. I am so sorry for your loss. It must have been so stressful to be somewhere with no cell service and then no emergency vets!

      It is a beautiful place, but that must be bitter-sweet without your best boy.

      I have similar feelings about Jasper as our cat died (back home with a cat sitter) when we were away for a hiking holiday. I means although I am keen to go back, I’m not quite ready to.

  16. I’m sorry for your loss as well. And to not have been there – just horrible. Animals are ❤️

    I spread his ashes in marble canyon because it was the last place my family had been together when my parents visited from back east. And he and I would even go there in the winter. He was 12 and he had never been happier than when we hiked in the Kootenays.

    I appreciate finally seeing a positive note on this campsite. It’s the perfect rustic with at least running water, place. Let the massive RV’s go elsewhere.

    1. I honestly can’t think of a more beautiful spot to end up as a dog memorial for him. Plus his ashes will have continued to make the local flowers grow.

      I agree about the campsite too. It could do with some updating, but it was lovely for tent camping. I can totally see why it would be good for families that fancy a quiet spot.

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