REVIEW: Firerock Campground, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (Elkwater Area)

by - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sculpted hills, dramatic skies, a pretty lake with sandy beaches, and a paved bike trail along the shore make Firerock Campground at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park an appealing and pleasant place to camp with children. As if that weren't enough, there is also a Visitor Centre with interesting displays and kids' activities, free mini golf, playgrounds along the lake (three in total!), fishing, birding, boating, and hiking. To top it all off, there were no mosquitoes!
Firerock Campground, Loop A
Of the five campgrounds in the Elkwater area, we selected Firerock based on positive TripAdvisor reviews. Located at the west end of the lake, it is quiet (the townsite and other campgrounds are to the east) and there are great campsites right beside the lake. Since we stayed in Loops D & A, walked through Loop B (our original reserved site was there, but we didn't like it), visited friends in Loop E, and drove through Loop C to get to E, we saw the whole campground. A rundown of each loop is below:
  • Loop A: closest to the lake and showers, beautiful view of the lake and hills, sites are large and flat, no shade, breezy. Peg your tent down well and bring a screen house or sun shade. We liked being able to ride or walk to the showers, beach, and playground at West End Day Use Area. From West End, we could get on to the Shoreline Trail and ride to the Marina and Visitor Centre. Note: You will have to pay $6 extra per night for power to get the large sites in Loop A. Having a view and not having to get in our cars to go anywhere made it worth every penny!
  • Loop B: offers quick access to the lake; sites are smaller and many are unshaded. Do NOT book B38 (what we had reserved, then moved from)- I think it's the smallest site in the campground!
  • Loops C, D & E: located 0.6-1.0 km up the hill from Loop B. Loops C & D have some very nice, forested sites of a decent size. Loop E sites were not as nice so they would be my last choice (many sites were unshaded and lumpy). Check when reserving to see if your site has trees and keep in mind that these loops are a bit far to the showers and lake. 
Showers/Washrooms at West End Day Use Area (beside Firerock Loop A)
What We Liked
  • No mosquitoes!
  • Proximity to West End Day Use Area (beach, playground, showers) and Shoreline Trail from Loops A & B
  • Clean washrooms and showers
  • $1 gets you a hot 4 minute shower (showers take $1 coins only, obtain at Registration)
  • Cheap firewood ($8 for a Costco yard waste bag - fill it up as much as you can!) - purchase at Registration
  • No waits for showers 
  • No traffic
  • Cell phone reception
  • The campsite host was responsive when a large group made noise past 11 PM. S/he gave the group a warning and they were quiet for the rest of the night and the next. 
  • Reservations are not required mid-week (but recommended for weekend stays so you get a good site).
The BIG bag of firewood (only $8)
What We Didn't Like
  • No temperature control on the showers, a little too hot for small children
  • There is no path from Loops C, D or E directly to the showers; you can a) walk down on the side of the road, b) take the Firerock Trail* down to West Central Day Use area then backtrack on the Shoreline Trail to the showers, or c) drive down. *I heard the Firerock Trail is an excellent mountain biking trail, but didn't get the chance to ride it, so am not sure if young riders would be able to handle it. I imagine adults would be fine getting from camp to the lake as it is rated a blue (moderate) trail.
  • This said, none of the above are dealbreakers; we would happily camp at Firerock again and are already thinking about our next trip.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and will definitely be back! Next year we would like to stay in the AA Loop, do some hiking, rent a canoe, and do some fishing.

*To see what we did on this trip, please click here.

What is your favorite campground in Cypress Hills, Alberta?


Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Trip Report
Alberta Parks - Cypress Hills Provincial Park
Alberta Parks - Cypress Hills - Campsites & Vacancy Calendar
Reserve an Alberta Parks Campsite

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