This Labour Day weekend, we went camping in Alberta’s Bow Valley Provincial Park, which is between Calgary and Canmore. Specifically, we camped at the Lac Des Arcs Campground. Just 10 minutes outside of the charming mountain town of Canmore, this campground is perfectly situated for a great weekend in the Banff area.
It was our maiden voyage with our new-to-us 1980 Bonair tent trailer. We arrived around 10 pm on Friday night and set up in the dark. We crashed immediately after as we had an early rise the following morning. I don’t often wake up before the sun but this morning we had a great reason to– our engagement photos. You might not be surprised to hear this, but watching the sun rise in the mountains is absolutely magical.
We had site #16 which was well situated right in the middle of the campground. If I came back to this campground, I’d go for a site closer to the lake, but we definitely appreciated the spaciousness. For what the campground lacked in privacy via trees, it made up for with lots of room between you and your neighbours. The campground is a great place to make a home base for exploring Canmore, but it is a bit of a drive away from Banff. There is a small recreation area and a beach to walk. Two major downfalls include the highway noise and atrocious shared bathrooms. One thing we miss about our old camper is having our own toilet!
Later that morning, we grabbed breakfast at Chez Francois Restaurant. It was honestly one of the better diner-style breakfasts I’ve ever had. It was satisfying and comforting, sweet and savoury, but didn’t leave me feeling bloated and groggy. And the coffee was well-deserved after watching the sunrise. We also hit up the community thrift store and hardware store for bargain hunting and some needed camper supplies. All weekend, we spotted elk throughout the resorts that outskirt the town of Canmore. That afternoon, we took a hike on Heart Creek Trail and then Mack went for a dip at Quarry Lake Park.
The next day, we had planned to hike Mist Mountain with friends. It got shut down due to a grizzly attack in the area (luckily there were no injuries), but needless to say, our urge to walk deep into the woods fizzled. Instead, we had a spontaneous day strolling around Canmore. We had coffee and giant muffins at Beamer’s, drank in the beer tent and watched heavyweight sports at the Scottish Highland Games (most random activity of the weekend without a doubt), and had a delicious lunch at the coolest outdoor restaurant, PD3. It’s a rad double-decker bus converted into a food truck that serves street food. We had tacos and fries with mouthwatering toppings.
We ended the day with a stroll on the beach at Lac des Arcs and an epic nap in the camper, followed by some outdoor yoga with an epic backdrop. The following morning, we hiked Grassi Lakes Trail and hit the road back home.
Another unforgettable, adventurous weekend camping in the mountains. I am so grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to travel even when travel is largely inaccessible. I am also pleased to report that the pop-up trailer suits us, our needs and preferences, perfectly. It’s spacious and airy and bright and cozy. Everything we could ask for. Thanks for reading. See ya for the next adventure!