For anyone looking for a fun, easy camping experience with kids I would highly recommend Sundance Lodges in Kananaskis.
You can go with you own tent or RV or you can hire one of their Tipis or Trappers tents. We hired a trapper’s tent for Rockets first birthday and it was excellent. We don’t have any camping gear, and I wouldn’t describe us as “campers” so the idea of Glamping appealed to me much more.
Once piece of advice I would say is book early in the season. We were very limited to when we could go because it got booked up so early. Its roughly $100 a night, but worth every penny. We booked about a month in advance and was lucky to get a space.
The drive in to Kananaskis from Canmore is beautiful. Head back up the trans Canada towards Calgary and then make a right in to Kananaskis country. Wind your way through the beautiful mountains past Barrier lake and you will find the little hidden camp site of Sundance lodges. It’s about 45 minutes from Canmore. This was great for us as we are far from experienced campers and was a little nervous taking Rocket as we didn’t know if he would like it. We felt this was close enough that if it didn’t work out, we could easily get home.
Turns out he LOVED it! I don’t know why this was a surprise. He’s very outdoorsy and loves animals and nature so really it was the perfect location for him.
Our Trappers tent was great, they have a secure door so at night you felt really safe. Out the front of the tent is a covered deck with a picnic table. Perfect for little ones. There’s also a fire pit and inside the tent a gas heater which was excellent in the morning which was a little colder. We were able to drive straight to our tent making it so easy for transporting all the “stuff” you end up taking away with you when you have kids. We took a travel cot for Rocket and there was a double bed and a single bed in the tent for us. Not the comfiest of beds, but you are sleeping in a tent, not the four seasons. But it was dry, off the floor and big enough for us to spread out. We took our own bedding but you can hire some from the main office. (In these weird covid times we thought it best to take out own)
Our spot was completely secluded. We loved it as soon as we arrived. We could play some music and have a dance and a sing with Rocket without upsetting campers close by. The campsite has a main office and little convenience store so you can pick up more wood and some basic food items which was very handy. The campsite is pet friendly, and in hindsight we would have taken the sausages. But as our first-time out camping, I wanted to try and make my life a little easier so they stayed with a friend. 3 ageing sausage dogs and a toddler are too much for anyone!
All the other campsites were full when we arrived and it was a Sunday, so it’s a popular spot. So, booking early is essential.
In the evening we could not hear anything. It was great. Very quiet and relaxing. There are lots of little chipmunks running around which Rocket loved. One thing we would recommend is bear spray! Kananaskis is very rural and this campsite has nothing around it. When Rocket had gone to bed Henry and I were sat outside having a well-deserved beer. We were playing frisbee and our disk got thrown in to a ditch. I must have wandered around 10 meters from our tent in to the ditch to find it and out of nowhere a HUGE Black bear came bumbling out of the bushes. It could only have been 4 meters from me! My panicked shriek made Henry rush over and just like that the bear was gone. I think we scared each other.
We were there late July, at this time the bears are usually filling up on berries and as long as they don’t have their cubs with them are usually distracted by their foraging, but this was a little too close for my liking. Amazing to see, but I’m glad I didn’t see any more. I felt very much in the bears back yard and like I was trespassing. There are a lot of bears in this valley, this is their home so we need to make sure we give them their space.
Needles to say, we both rushed back in to our tent, locked the door and went to bed.
The next morning was Rockets 1st birthday. Henry got up and lit the firepit and cooked us up bacon and eggs. I decorated the campsite and we had a little cowboy themed party. Just the three of us. We pumped out some ACDC (Rockets favourite) and opened a couple of little presents and then went for a walk in the woods. It was perfect.
On the drive back to Canmore later that day we stopped at spray lake for a picnic. As we pulled in to a picnic area along the side of the road another black bear crossed the road in front of us. Going out in to Kananaskis is a great reminder of what wildlife is on our doorstep here, and also an eyeopener on how we should be giving them all the space they deserve.
I highly recommend stopping at spray lake. You can easily find a spot where no one else is. In fact, the picture on my home page was our little piece of heaven on that day.
My only disappointment of this trip was I wish we had stayed 2 nights. You have to take a lot of crap with you when taking kids so you might as well make the most of it and go for a few nights. Now we know Rocket loves camping we will certainly go for longer next summer.
Must set myself a reminder to book as soon as they open booking in the spring!
To book, visit their website https://www.sundancelodges.com/