Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter at the Cameron Lake Cabin, Waterton Lakes National Park

The Cameron Lake Cabin is the newest addition to the Alpine Club of Canada's collection of backcountry cabins and huts, and with a 2 km approach, is one of the EASIEST cabins for families to reach in winter. The trail is packed and track-set allowing for easy cross country skiing or hiking with a flat level surface for towing sleds. Arriving at the cabin you might even be tempted to proclaim: "What? We're here already? But I'm not tired yet!" - I know I did.

Easy peasy skiing into the Cameron Lake Cabin, Waterton Lake National Park

We visited this newly restored warden cabin in Waterton Lake National Park at the end of December, just a few weeks after it saw its first guests. My husband said it was so new, the frying pans still had their Teflon coating on them. (And the knives were still sharp!)

We were very excited to visit a new backcountry cabin and even more thrilled to be giving our seven year old son his first backcountry ski experience where he'd ski into a cabin for a night - 100% on his own steam. We've visited other huts and cabins in the winter but have always had to snowshoe in due to distance or lack of a good ski trail. The Cameron Lake Cabin changes all of that, and at 2 km, most families will have few problems reaching their destination.

The Alpine Club of Canada's Cameron Lake Cabin

Families with toddlers and babies will find Cameron Lake easy to reach with the assistance of a sled or Chariot on skis. Friends of mine have already hiked in with a toddler and two babies (the toddler walked while the babies rode in sleds) and other friends put their daughter on touring skis to introduce her to backcountry ski touring.

Beautiful Cameron Lake on a sunny day (photo: M. Schulze)

Regardless of how you reach the hut though, it's an easy peasy backcountry trip and offers families the opportunity to take children for their first winter camping experience at a very young age with little difficulties or challenges.

The perfect backcountry location for families with young kids (photo: R. Yourex)

Location and Logistics

Waterton Lake National Park is located approximately 2.5 hours south of Calgary. The Cameron Lake Hut is reached via the Akamina Parkway, open as far as the Little Prairie Day Use Area. In summer you can drive all the way to Cameron Lake at the end of the Parkway but in winter you must ski or hike the final 2.5 km to the popular tourist area. This is good news for families who want to get off the beaten path in winter without the normal summer crowds. The cabin is located roughly 500 metres away from the lake.


For more information please visit the Alpine Club of Canada Website

Skiing the Akamina Parkway from Little Prairie Day Use Area to Cameron Lake

The Cameron Lake Cabin

This small cabin sleeps 8 people which is perfect for two families to share the space. It's recommended that you book the full cabin because there is no separate sleeping area. Cooking, eating, hanging out, and sleeping is all done in the same room. Our son goes to bed around 8:00pm and I can't imagine encouraging other adult guests to dim the lights and whisper quietly at this early hour if you were to share the cabin.

Kitchen area in the Cameron Lake Cabin

The cabin is equipped with a propane heater, propane lanterns, and a small propane stove. There are basic dishes and cooking supplies (bring your own food and wine glasses.) The sleeping area is comfortable with foam mattress supplied so that you can bring just sleeping bags and leave the other camping gear at home.

Living and Sleeping space side by side at the Cameron Lake Cabin

What to bring with you:

  • Sleeping bags

  • Food (and note that there is no refrigerator so plan accordingly)

  • Drinking water if you don't want to have to boil snow (which gets very tedious)

  • Head lamps or flash lights for trips out to the pit toilets at night

  • A sled to haul your gear in with (and for creating an awesome luge track behind the cabin)

  • Skis or snowshoes (we brought both)

  • Games, books, and indoor activities to occupy the kids

  • Hut booties or indoor shoes that can get wet on the bottom (we found that we were always tracking water into the small cabin)
The final descent off the Akamina Parkway down to the cabin (ignore the sign)

Special note RE cabin temperature - when we were there it was extremely hot on the upper bunk making it near impossible to sleep up there. We had turned the heater down earlier in the evening but it was still tropical as you climbed up the ladder to sleep or play. (Think sauna)

This is another reason I recommend booking the full cabin with another family. Each lower sleeping room is actually big enough for a family of 4 to sleep should you also find it too warm up top.

Comfortable sleeping/playing areas in the Cameron Lake Cabin (photo: R. Yourex)

 Places to Explore near the Cameron Lake Cabin

We took a short hike to Cameron Lake, located roughly 500 metres further up the Parkway. It was also nice for a night ski. We didn't see much of the lake but on a clear day, it would be lovely to hike or ski across the lake (just make sure it's frozen.)

Cameron Lake on a snowy December day
This is as far as we hiked across the "almost frozen" Cameron lake in December

We also took a short hike to Little Akamina Lake, located roughly 500 metres in the opposite direction from Cameron Lake. There was a trail leading there from behind the bathrooms at the cabin.
This trail would not be ski-friendly and is best on snowshoes.

Playing at Little Akamina Lake

Families could also ski or hike back down the Parkway towards the parking lot and hike up to Akamina Pass. I'd recommend hiking with young children rather than skiing.

For more information on Winter in Waterton Lakes National Park, please visit the Parks Canada website

Skiing out from the Cameron Lake Cabin

Additional Reading

Waterton Lakes National Park in Winter - A Whole Different Experience!

Off the Beaten Path in Waterton Lakes National Park - A Family Winter Adventure

Home Sweet home

Final Photos

Sledding at the Cameron Lake Cabin
Family-friendly Cameron Lake Cabin
Having fun on the hill down to the Cameron Lake Cabin
Young Children LOVE this new Cabin (photo: R. Yourex)

Melting snow (tedious but we neglected to bring water and the creek wasn't very close) - photo: S. Burgman

Snowshoeing to Little Akamina Lake (photo: S. Burgman)
Hike, Ski, Tow the Kids - lots of options for getting into Cameron Lake (photo: S. Burgman)
The hill down to the cabin was a lot of fun! (photo: S. Burgman)
Night at the Cameron Lake Cabin

Special thanks to the Alpine Club for taking care of our stay in exchange for writing and promoting this great new cabin. As always, all words and opinions are my own.

For more information on other cabins and huts with the Alpine Club of Canada, please check out their website.


  1. Great post! I found it very useful. Love the final result. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips.

  2. Since i've tried snowboarding, every year i am looking forward for winter holidays to experience those feelings again

  3. How long were the groomed x-country so trails? Thanks!

    1. It was a very short ski to the cabin. Website below says 5 km return on the Cameron Trail from trailhead to lake. You can also ski the Dipper ski Trail and then it would be 10 km return to the lake.,Forum%20Lakes%20(all%20difficult).