Bow Valley Campground Trip Report

by - Friday, May 29, 2015

If you're looking for a close mountain getaway, head to Bow Valley Campground in Bow Valley Provincial Park. Less than an hour from Calgary, Bow Valley Campground allows you to unwind while staying plugged in (perfect for those weekends you are on call).

The view just steps from our campsite!
Bow Valley Campground, Bow Valley Provincial Park

What We Liked

  • Family-friendly campground: Most campers were families who stayed put for the weekend, so there was very little traffic in the campground and everyone was quiet after 10 pm.
  • Shaded, private campsites
  • Power and water sites, unserviced sites, and walk-in sites available
  • On site store / concession: They had coffee, so we were able to remedy our coffee emergency! 
  • Playground
  • Paved bike trail and several hiking trails connecting the campground to trailheads and Day Use Areas. See Family Fun in Bow Valley Provincial Park for more information on things to do in the park.
  • Cell phone reception so we could connect with the friends we were meeting at the campground
  • Clean outhouses -  Toilet paper and hand sanitizer were always full and washrooms were clean even though the campground was full.
  • Bike rentals, canoe rentals, boat launch
  • Interpretive programs
Bow Valley Campground Playground
Bow Valley Campground Registration & Store

What We Would Like to See

  • More washrooms 

Activities

There are several pleasant hikes in Bow Valley Provincial Park with very little elevation gain, so they are suitable for children. My favorite family hike near the campground is Middle Lake because it's so pretty. For longer, more challenging hikes, try nearby Grotto Canyon, Doorjamb and Loder, Heart Mountain, or Mount Yamnuska.

Cyclists will enjoy the paved Bow Valley Bike Trail. I would rate the path as moderate for kids; easy for adults. My friend's 8 year old did the whole trail round trip and still had energy to hike the Montane Trail (1 km) at the end! For a longer trail, I recommend the Legacy Trail (also paved) from Canmore to Banff!

There is also fishing and geocaching in the park. For more information on recreational activities in the park, please see my story: Family Fun in Bow Valley Provincial Park.
Little POG at Middle Lake, Bow Valley Provincial Park

Know Before You Go

  • Make a reservation so you won't be disappointed! This popular campground fills up fast. If you're unable to get a spot, try Willow Rock Campground (all sites are first come, first served).
  • The campground is between two highways and is across the river from train tracks, so bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper. I was woken up a few times in the night, but my husband and children slept fine.
  • Outhouses are few and far between, so book a site near the showers or outhouses if you don't want to ride your bike to the toilets.
  • Pick up firewood when you register as Loops C, D & E are a bit far from the store.

The Verdict

Bow Valley Campground is a great mountain getaway close to Calgary. Visitors will appreciate the short drive to camp, assortment of easy but pretty trails in the area, and shaded, private campsites. We enjoyed our stay and will be back!

Related Links

Family Fun In Bow Valley Provincial Park
Flowing Water Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park
The Best Short Hikes Near Calgary
Hiking Mount Yamnuska: Choose Your Own Adventure

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5 comments

  1. Some may say that only the considered roughing it with youthful youngsters is startling. Really, running outdoors with your young youngsters CAN be extraordinary fun. Let's be honest, setting up the tent, making an open air fire, cooking marshmallows, resting in a dozing pack, utilizing an electric lamp everything sounds like work to us and we'll most likely need an excursion when we return home however for children its new and energizing.

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  2. I can't even believe what a fabulous glamping location that is. Your backyard escape was totally perfect!I love camping! We try to go at least once a month and my son really enjoys it.

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  3. Thanks Michael! Bow Valley is great for car/trailer camping and so close to Calgary so it's really convenient for a quick get away. Not a glamping spot exactly... unless you DIY on your campsite. ;)

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