If you want to go hiking in Waterton Lakes, one of the most fun (and cost effective) ways to stay in the area is to go camping. The Townsite Campground within Waterton Park is great! It has lovely soft grass to pitch your tent and hook ups for folks who camp in RVs. The camping area is next to a beach on Upper Waterton Lake so perfect if you need a quick dip to cool down before bed.
Camping at the Townsite Campground was also great for easy access to resupplies (and restaurants if you don’t fancy cooking) plus it is close to sooooo many incredible hikes! Lastly, the facilities are great, so if you like little luxuries like hot showers, and cooking shelters with stoves, this campground will make you happy.
Townsite Campground Location
Townsite campground is covers the southwestern half of Waterton Park town. It backs onto Upper Waterton Lake, the edge of Mount Bertha and the rest of the town. This makes it an amaaaazing location for hiking, but also for relaxing on the beach.
Waterton Townsite Campground Map
This map will give you an idea about how the campground is organized. The sites in A&B are best for RVs (they have electricity, water and sewage.) C,D&G work for tents or RVs and have electric hook-ups. The best spots for tent campers are E&H (H is where we stayed, with walk-in spaces.) Then the loos, kitchens, water stations etc. are spread around so you never have too far to walk to reach what you need.
Townsite Campground Facilities
There are a whopping 246 sites (109 are fully serviced pull-throughs, and 76 back-in electrical). 30 sites are walk-in, specifically for tents. And another 31 are car-camping for tents. There are wheelchair accessible sites as well as barrier-free amenities like washrooms/showers.
- Hot showers and flushing loos (this made me so happy after our epic, sweaty hikes)
- Picnic benches at all sites
- Some sites have hook ups for RVs
- Drinking water (and sani dumps for the RV-folks)
- Hot water taps for washing up
- Cooking shelters with wood burning stoves in case you need to cook in the rain.
- Food lockers
- Recycling station
As always when you camp in the Canadian Rockies all campers are required to keep a bare campsite. This is the most important rule about camping in Waterton Lakes. 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 dotted around the campground. 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 Townsite Campground
You can reserve spots to camp in advance. Book via the Frontcountry campground website.
Operating season (nights): April 1 to October 10, 2023 (weather permitting)
Reservable period (nights): May 4 to September 10, 2023
Townsite Campground fees: (+$11.50 non refundable reservation fee on top of this.)
Electrical, water and sewer: $40.75
Unserviced for tents: $29.25 (or $24.00 for walk in sites)
Other Townsite Campground rules
– Quiet hours are from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am.
– For the safety of both pets and wildlife, pets must be leashed and never left unattended.
– Use of generators is restricted to certain time slots: 7-9 am, 11 am-1 pm, and 5-7 pm
– Max people per site: 6 people
Walk-in or Car Camping for tents?
If you don’t own an RV, there are two types of sites for tents. You can either stay in a car camping site (park right next to your tent) or you can stay in a walk-in site. The walk-in sites still have a car park; but it is 30-50m away from where you pitch your tent. They have little hobbit-like-hills between each site to help shelter your tent from the wind and the location is gorgeous with easy access to cooking shelters, loos etc.
Upper Waterton Lake Beach
Whichever site you book, you’ll have easy access to the beach on Upper Waterton Lake. There is a decent, flat trail that will take you into the center of town from here, but it seemed like it was only really people staying in the campground that used this beach.
Campfires in Waterton Lakes National Park
There are no campfires allowed at the campsites in the Townsite campground. If you want to cook on a fire, you need to use the wooden stoves in the cooking shelters. We LOVE cooking on campfires, so we were a little disappointed about this. We ended up buying a camping stove, so at least we are now ready for the frequent fire bans!
A couple of meals without campfire
I have a whole post about cooking on a campfires. You can’t do all those things on a camping stove, but you can do some of them. We ended up cooking easy things like burgers, okonomiyaki, gnocchi or sandwiches.
Hikes in Waterton Lakes National Park
The best part about camping in Waterton Lakes Townsite Campground is the easy access to all the hikes! Here are just a few ideas of the walks we did near here in 2022, but there are sooo many more. To get you started: (clockwise from left to right in the images below)
- Red Rock Canyon and Blakinson Falls
- Lower Bertha Falls
- Bertha Lake
- Rowe Lakes
- Mount Lineham
- Cameron Lake and Summit Lake
- Carthew Anderson trail
- Bear’s Hump
- Loop around Waterton Park Townsite
Map of Hikes near Waterton Lakes
This map shows all of our adventures in BC and Alberta. You can zoom in to the area around Waterton Lakes to see all the hikes mentioned above.
Have you camped in Waterton Lakes National Park? Did you stay at the Townsite Campground, or one of the other camping areas? Would you prefer to stay in the town with a comfy bed while you explore the incredible scenery of Waterton Lakes?