• Lakeside Camping in our National Parks

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    The leaves are beginning to change color, layering the ground with vibrant leaves and warm feelings of hot tea, a snuggly blanket and this innate desire to sit by the campfire. I’ll leave it up for debate, but personally, there’s nothing better than the aforementioned and a lakeside camping view so remote that it shuts out the light pollution of our normal lives, leaving us alone with the night sky to contemplate our inner thoughts and reflect on the natural wonders around us.  Now that’s what I call paradise…

    For those of you who have those desires, we’ve compiled a list of lakeside camping destinations that won’t disappoint! Many of these destinations are on the west coast or the midwest and there’s no wonder why. Much of the north and midwest lands are covered by vast mountain ranges, expansive plains and pockets of joy (i.e. the lakes and springs fit for a travel brochure)!

    Peruse these destinations and we’ll do our part to give you as much lakeside camping relevant information as possible, so all you have to do is pack the car and #FindYourPark :)

    Cheers to the approach of another fall season… we hope you fill these months with adventure, new resolutions and an increasing love for our national parks and the hidden gems they have to offer!

    Mono Lake, Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area
    Location: Near the town of Lee Vining, CA on Highway 395 and 15 miles east of Yosemite National Park
    Best travel times: Fall/Winter
    Camping:

    • Dispersed camping - *some areas restricted (including South Tufa, Navy Beach, Old Marina, and County Park)
    • Exposed lakebed camping - *requires permit
    • Island camping (September-March) - *requires permit
    • Campfire camping - *requires permit
    • 16 campgrounds in total: 1 RV campground, camping fee ranges from $8 - $20.
    • Free permits can be acquired at the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center

    Activities:

    • Cross-country skiing, Boating, Swimming, Hiking, Photography, Fishing
    • Interpretive Programs: Bird walks, Tufa walks, etc.

    Amenities:

    • Parking
    • Restrooms
    • Drinking Water

    For more info visit: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/514/files/MonoLakeFinalWeb2014.pdf

    Lake McDonald, MT

    Location: In Flathead County, MT 6.5 miles southwest of Glacier National Park
    Best travel times: Fall/Summer
    Camping:

    • Apgar:
      • 194 camping sites (RV’s permitted)
      • Amenities: Potable water, Restrooms, Amphitheater, Visitor center, gift shops, camp store, casual restaurant. Horseback ride reservations, boat rentals, a shuttle service available.
      • Fee: $20/night, no reservation needed
      • Campground Map: http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/images/Apgar.jpg
    • Avalanche:
      • Open June - September
      • 87 camping sites (RV’s permitted)
      • Amenities: Potable water, Restrooms, Amphitheater
      • Highlights: Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake Trail
      • Fee: $20/night, no reservation needed
      • Campground Map: http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/images/avalanche.jpg
    • Fish Creek
      • Open June - September
      • 178 camping sites (RV’s permitted)
      • Amenities: Potable water, Restrooms, Showers, Disposal station, Amphitheater
      • Highlights: Rocky Point Trail, Camas Road
      • Fee: $23/night, reservation required
    • Sprague Creek
      • Open May - September
      • 25 camping sites (RV’s not permitted)
      • Amenities: Potable water, restrooms, picnic area, camp store, restaurant, gift shop, tour buses, boat tours, and horse rides
      • Highlights: Lake McDonald Lodge, unobstructed lake view
      • Fee: $20/night, no reservation needed

    Activities:



    Great Salt Lake, UT

    Location: Spanning across five counties, lending its name to Salt Lake City, the lake is 76 miles south of Golden Spike National Historic Site.
    Best travel times: Spring/Autumn/Winter
    Camping:

    • Spiral Jetty
      • You’ll need some water, since no restrooms or water source is available and pack food depending on your stay since there are no places nearby to stop. Last stop for gas is at Corrine, UT. Using 4WD is preferable.
      • Amenities: Open parking, Pets allowed, absolute silence and isolation!
      • Fee: none, no reservation needed
      • Campground Map: http://www.waterhistory.org/artinfo/spiral/newspapermapbig.jpg
    • Antelope Island Campground
      • Highlights: Frary Peak (2.5 mile hike), Frary Graze Site Interpretive Trail (.42 mile hike), Mountain View (11.4 mile hike), South Island Trail (4 mile hike), Beacon Knob (0.4 mile hike/photo attraction), White Rock Loop (1.1 mile hike), Gravel Pit Trailhead (1.84 mile hike), Bone Road Trail (2.7 mile hike), Buffalo Point (0.43 mile hike/photo attraction),
      • Bridger Bay Campground
        • 26 campgrounds (RV’s permitted), small parties (8 or less) preferable
        • Amenities: Water is available at Bridger Bay Beach, the Dump Station, and the Visitor Center, Pit toilets only, Dogs allowed, Fires allowed (in pits only)
        • Fee: $15 (first night), $12 (subsequent nights), $13 for second vehicle
      • White Rock Bay Campground
        • 20 campgrounds (RV’s permitted), medium sized parties (16 or less)
        • Amenities: Water is available at Bridger Bay Beach, the Dump Station, and the Visitor Center, Pit toilets only, Dogs allowed, Fires allowed (in pits only)
        • Fee: $30 (first night), $24 (subsequent nights), $13 for third vehicle
      • Other options: Lakeside Group Campsite, Ladyfinger Campground
    • Map: http://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/map/

      Russell Lake, OR
      Location: About 86 miles south of Mt. Hood National Forest and north of Willamette National Forest.
      Best travel time: Spring, Summer Autumn
      Highlights: Breitenbush Trailhead (3 mile hike), South Breitenbush Trailhead (3 mile hike), Mount Jefferson (scenic view), Whitewater Creek Crossing (water source), Scouts Lake, Bear Lake, Pacific Crest Trail (intersects with Breitenbush Trail) and Russell Lake after 4 miles.

      Camping: Open in May 2016! Reservations are needed for designated campsites only. There are a limited amount of reservations but all are within 250 feet of the lakes. Wilderness and Recreation passes are required for certain trailheads, but are usually self-serving.
      Fee: $6-$9 per reservation

      Bear Lake, MN
      Location: 77 miles south of Superior National Forest
      Best travel time: Fall, Winter
      Highlights: Taconite State Trail (4.4 miles), Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway (18.6 miles), Mesabi Trail (21.1 miles), Alborn Pengilly Railroad Trail (24.1 miles)
      Camping:

      • 27 campsites total (RV’s permitted)
      • Amenities: Fire pit, cleared area, picnic tables, vault toilets, garbage disposal, drinking water, lake access, swimming, dock, fishing, snowmobile trail, pets allowed
      • Fee: $14 daily camping, first-come first-serve policy. Phone reservations can be made by calling 866-857-2757 (TTY: 952-936-4008) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily November through March, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily April through October.


      Sawtooth Lake, ID
      Location: 30 miles north of Sawtooth National Forest
      Best travel time: Summer, Fall, Autumn
      Highlights: Alpine Lake, Mount Regan, Alpine Peak, Iron Creek Trailhead
      Note: Stop in Stanley, ID for all your necessities before heading to your campsite
      Camping:

      • Iron Creek Campground
        • 9 campsites total (RV’s permitted)
        • Amenities: Drinking water, vault toilets, hiking, picnic tables, fire rings.
        • Fees: $13/day, first-come first-serve policy, no reservations needed
      • Dispersed Camping Options available:
        • Self-issued permits required for camping outside designated campgrounds, wilderness permits needed for groups of 8 or more.
        • Amenities: Dogs allowed, campfires allowed (but gas stoves are preferable), lake access.



      Granite Springs Reservoir, WY
      Location: 78 miles southeast of Medicine Bow National Forest
      Best travel time: Summer, Fall
      Highlights: Laramie Mountains, Crystal Reservoir, North Crow Reservoir, Hynds Lodge.
      Camping:

      • Curt Gowdy State Park
        • 13 campgrounds total (RV’s permitted), cabins and yurts are also available (prices vary)
        • Amenities: Visitor Center, restrooms, shower house, lake access, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, Salmon/Trout fishing spots,
        • Fees: $10-$17/day, depending on your state of residence

      Cracker Lake, MT
      Location: 15 miles southeast of Glacier National Park, MT
      Best travel time:
      Highlights: Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, Grinnell Glacier Trail, Apikuni Falls, Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail, Iceberg Lake Trail
      Camping: You’ll need to take a 12 mile to get there located by East Glacier Park at the Many Glacier Hotel parking lot, but it’s well worth it… we promise!

      • Campgrounds nearby:
        • Many Glacier, St. Mary, Rising Sun
        • Fees: $10-$23/day, first-come first-serve policy
        • No pets allowed, campfires allowed in fire pits only

      A few other options to look into:

      • Lower Crystal Lake, CO - 50 miles south of Arapaho National Forest
      • Todd Lake, OR - 20 miles west of Bend, OR
      • Mirror Lake, OR - 8 miles southwest of Mt. Hood National Forest, OR
      • Thomas Lakes, CO - 31 miles southwest of White River National Forest, CO

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    • Over the Ledge at Glacier Skywalk

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      Glacier Skywalk
      As of last summer (May 1), the Canadian Rockies and its inhabitants welcomed a new addition to the park, The Glacier Skywalk. Inspired by the different aspects of the park, the interactive structure was created to guide visitors each step of the way to experience the breathtaking glaciers and its diverse habitat. An educational, multi-language audio tour is provided, but we would personally avoid being distracted by the Siri-esque vibe out in the middle of the majestic Canadian Rockies.

      So 30 dollars later, with ticket in hand, you’ll begin the adventure at the Columbia Glacier Discovery Centre, just over 100 miles away from the town of Banff in Alberta. The Icefields Parkway leading to the center is noted as one of the most scenic drives in the world and although cars aren’t allowed at the Skywalk, biking is however permitted. A limited amount of bike rentals are also available at the Discovery Centre.

      A routine shuttle will transport you to the Glacier Skywalk where you can embark on the interpretive walkway and find your way to the glass-floor platform. The trail is roughly four times the length football field (about 400 meters) overlooking the valley floor at a height of 280 meters. But the real rush is when you step onto the glass-floored platform, which extends another 35 meters beyond the cliff face. Put the adrenaline and flushed faces aside and take in the view of cascading waterfalls and glacier-formed valleys that have developed over the last three million years!

      glacier skywalk

      It was the intention of the architects and designers to use the Skywalk as a link that connects visitors to the natural world, in the hopes that they leave with knowledge of the ecology, geology, glaciology and evolutionary history of the Canadian Rockies. With every moral intention in mind, the Skywalk construction will hopefully maintain a balance of wonder and protection to the surrounding natural resources.  Photography and videography are encouraged by the park, and that the memories will be shared via social media with unique hashtags such as #GlacierSkywalk or @GlacierSkywalk.

      glacier skywalk

      A few things to note about the Glacier Skywalk area:

      • No washroom facilities are available. The nearest washrooms are at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre
      • Pets are not allowed on the Glacier Skywalk or transporting shuttle
      • Wheelchair Accessible
      • Knowledgeable guides available at each station of the Skywalk
      • Audio tour is available in English, French, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese

      As one visitor said, “Walking out those first steps was such a thrill. The quality of this walk made you feel like you were walking on air!”  And we hope you experience the same!

      glacier skywalk

      Banff Jasper Highway, Jasper
      T0M 2H0 Canada 1.800-760-6934

      Book your trip to the Glacier Skywalk now!
      Visit the Glacier Skywalk website here.

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