Monday, March 31, 2014

Yoho National Park Camping

Kicking Horse Campground, Site 14, July 2007
©Karrie Trott

In July 2007 we took the kids (ages 4 and 9) to Yoho National Park. We had a fantastic site at Kicking Horse Campground and will be going back this summer (hoping for the same or similar site). One important point to note about camping in Yoho National Park is that it is FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED. You cannot reserve sites at any of the campgrounds there (unlike other National Parks). So that is a big thing to note - if you cannot get there early enough (Yoho lists 2pm as check-in), you may not get a site. Kicking Horse is also the only drive-in one that allows campfires. There are walk-in sites that allow campfires, but only Kicking Horse for vehicle access sites. Check HERE for more information.

But don't let that deter you! Yoho National Park is amazingly beautiful and if you can get Kicking Horse Campground, you are right in the middle of several attractions. Takakkaw Falls is amazing and a fairly easy walk to view (after driving a crazy switchback mountain road that you cannot take trailers on, and have to back up if you are taking a camping van/bus/etc). But you will get to see one of the highest waterfalls in Canada and it is stunning. Here is one of my shots:

Takakkaw Falls - July 2007
© Karrie Trott

Another nearby attraction is the Natural Bridge, which is on the way to another stunner - Emerald Lake. We did not get to visit Emerald Lake in 2007 so it is at the top of our list this summer. The Natural Bridge is a rock formation that has been carved by the waters of the Kicking Horse River. 

Natural Bridge - July 2007
© Karrie Trott
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park
(check out more photos at the She Loves Glam blog)

Each of those attractions is within a half hour drive of the Kicking Horse Campground. Perfect idea to take a drive each morning (when there may also be fewer visitors if you do not like crowds - like my spouse) and then return to your campsite for the rest of the day (and more exploring).

One idea for exploring around the Kicking Horse Campground is the Kicking Horse River - it runs right along-side the campground! Here is a shot of my daughter's well-traveled Purple Bear, enjoying the fresh air and the roar of a gorgeous river - less than 5 minutes walk from our site:

Purple Bear at Kicking Horse River 2007
© Karrie Trott

Camping in Yoho National Park has it's advantages. Depending what you are looking for - compare the smaller campgrounds in Yoho to the several individual campgrounds with 600+ sites in the Banff area and you might just want to delve a little deeper into the Rockies for pristine air, unbelievable views, and larger camping sites. We like our space. If we are in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by forests and rivers, we do not like having another campsite 2 feet away. But that's just us - you may like something a little less remote. But keep in mind that the town of Field, British Columbia is a short drive away if you need supplies or more human contact. And it is a STUNNING mountain town. You won't believe it until you see it.

Camping Tips and Tricks - Flooring

So.. the last time you went camping was with your parents when you were 6.

Somehow we never realize how much work can go into planning a camping trip so it's not a total disaster. It might even seem daunting as you start to make a list of 'things to pack' that gets longer and longer (especially when you have kids to entertain and pack for and feed). But there are tons of tips and tricks out there that I have either done myself or am going to do this summer when we take our two youngest children to Yoho National Park in British Columbia for a few days. Some tips are so easy you can't believe you never thought of it before! I will be posting my FAVORITE ideas, tips and tricks right here in this blog.

Some tips will be handy for those camping in potentially colder climates like we will be. The days can be scorching hot in the summer, even up high in the mountains - but don't let that fool you! It can be very cool and damp at night. Damp likes to creep right into your sleeping bag and snuggle up to you. It is not pleasant.

So how about this tip (that is on the TOP of my to-do list for this summer's retreat) - use Foam Floor mats for the base of your tent. TADA. How easy is that? I have two dozen sitting on the floor in my kids' toyroom right now. Before we leave on the trip, I will pop up the tent and place the floor mats inside to measure out exactly how many I need (and pack a couple extra in case of unforeseen circumstances - of which there is probably going to be at least one). This will keep all of your sleeping bags, bedding, etc off the base floor of the tent and also provide extra comfort. It is also a lot easier to use than the 'foam rollies' that I always camped with... they are not exactly easy to unroll and keep in place. But an interlocking foam floor? HOW EASY IS THAT?

Tip from "A Little Campy"

This will also be great on the feet! Normally you don't want everyone tromping around in your tent with their shoes on - especially if you are camping near sand, gravel, pine needles (sticky!),  or other unmentionables. Normally we take our shoes off outside the tent - and it is NOT fun to then step on a rock that is under the tent flooring. That can also wear holes in your floor. I recommend sweeping the area where you want your tent set up before placing it but there is always just that ONE rock that escapes attention and finds your bare foot. So it only makes sense to have your entire tent floor covered with nice foam mats. Keep each edge a little bit away from the side of the tent (an inch or more) in case of rain as an extra precaution. But most tents these days seem to have a waterproof bib around the bottom to help prevent that. Have you camped in a tent when it started to rain and something was accidentally pushed up against the canvas wall? It's not a good plan - water wicks in and you find yourself waking up cold and wet! So avoid this by placing your flooring a couple inches away from each side if possible and that also helps as a guide for where to put your gear. But my favorite thought from this idea is no more rocks in the feet, and no midnight fighting with a foam rollie that will not cooperate!