Thursday, May 11, 2017

April Camping in Bow Valley Provincial Park

This is a story of first experiences for our family including our first April camping trip where we didn't stay in a cabin, hut, or hostel.

Thanks to the new trailer in this photo, our family is now camping in April!

Another first was staying at a campground for its opening weekend of the season. And trust me, it's really easy to get a campsite on Tuesday for the upcoming weekend, when you want to go camping in April.

Riverside camping in Bow Valley Campground at one of the premier sites

The third "first experience" was that we used our new trailer for the first time, taking it out close to home so that we could work out any bugs or problems that we might discover. (always a good idea when it's a second hand trailer and you neglected to get an inspection!)

Our new trailer and our DIY outdoor kitchen

Our First April Camping Trip

We saw several families or groups tenting at the Bow Valley Campground two weeks ago but that's just never been my style. I don't tent in the snow or when the temperature drops below zero at night (and trust me, it definitely went down below zero while we were camping last weekend!)

We've had a small hybrid trailer for the past few years and it's definitely warm enough for an early season camping trip (especially if you have a power site and bring an electric heater with you) but it's still not as comfortable as cabin or hut camping - something we've always done until mid-May.

Thanks to our new fully hard-sided trailer though, and an awesome electric heater that we brought, we were toasty warm while camping in April. We spent a little bit more time inside the trailer than we normally would have (eating breakfast inside for example,) but we still kept things pretty simple and didn't use the water or any of the plumbing since we were afraid the pipes would still freeze if they had water in them.

April camping and toasty warm with our new trailer

Spring Camping in Bow Valley Provincial Park

Bow Valley Provincial Park is the perfect place to launch a first camping trip of the season from Calgary. We chose to camp at the main Bow Valley Campground with its gorgeous riverside campsites, playgrounds, hiking and biking trails, and reservable campsites.

The view from our campsite at the Bow Valley Campground

Bow Valley Awesomeness #1 - Bow Valley Provincial Park is close to home!! 

Get too cold? Bail and call it quits with minimal loss.

We lucked out and had a gorgeous weekend for late April

Bow Valley Awesomeness #2 - You'll be camping in the sunny Bow Valley 

The Bow Valley loses its snow earlier in the season than other areas of Kananaskis or Banff. Mornings and evenings were chilly but the daytime temperatures were pleasantly warm while we were there at the end of April.

It was supposed to be quite rainy but this was the surprise we got instead biking around Canmore

Bow Valley Awesomeness #3 - Great spring hiking trails!

The Bow Valley Campground is located close to many great early-season hiking trails that we enjoy every spring. The Many Springs Trails is accessible by bike or on foot from any of the campsites at the Bow Valley Campground. The Flowing Water Trail is just across the road in the Willow Rock Campground, a first come first serve campground. Other early season favourites nearby are the Heart Creek Trail or Raven's End on Yamnuska (a good hiking trail takes you to the bottom of the cliff face that you'll see from the campground.)

Mount Yamnuska as seen from the Many Springs Hiking Trail

Visit the Alberta Parks website for more information on all hiking trails in the park.

You can also check out my previous story on the Yamnuska hiking trail if this mountain intrigues you.

Picnic beside the Bow River in Bow Valley Provincial Park

Bow Valley Awesomeness #4 - Great Bike Trails!

You'll be close to some fabulous bike trails if you go camping in Bow Valley Provincial Park! We like biking around the quiet Bow Valley Campground roads over to the Many Springs Trail or to the Bow Valley Paved Bike Trail which takes you down to the park information centre.

Biking on the Bow Valley Bike Trail

We also love biking on the trails around Canmore, a short 10 minute drive away, or you can  head down Highway 40 towards Kananaskis Village where the Bill Milne Trail is an excellent early season favourite. (something we did Sunday after packing up camp)

Biking the Bill Milne Trail off Highway 40 (a short drive away from Bow Valley)

Bow Valley Awesomeness #5 - You are close to everything!

From the Bow Valley Campground you can drive further into Kananaskis, pop over to Canmore, or even head to Banff for the day for a bike ride, easy hike, or trip to the hot springs.

There's honestly no shortage of things to do when you're camped in the Bow Valley for a weekend.

One of the gorgeous bike trails in Canmore we drove to Saturday while camping in the Bow Valley

Stay tuned for more on the new trailer coming up in my next blog post...

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