This past weekend, Ryan and I packed my Patriot to absolute capacity, squished the kids and dogs in the back seat and headed off to Lake Koocanusa for a weekend of camping. Let me start off by saying, camping with kids is so much more work! Besides packing twice the food, you need more bedding and a plethora of “just in case items.”

We went with Ryan’s brother and his family to a free camp spot right on Koocanusa lake within walking distance to a beach and the store. This camp area was amazing because there were so many options, spaced out, primitive- just the way I like it. The only bummer is that there is currently a fire ban so every night, we gathered the kids around the lanterns instead of a fire. Plus side- we didn’t all reek of smoke.

Saturday morning we prepared for the 5 minute drive to Surveyor’s Lake. The lake doesn’t allow dogs so we had to tie the boys up to the trailer for shade and leave them with a ton of water. I was worried about them pretty much the whole day but when we came back they were fine and happy.

Surveyor’s Lake is a small lake that is super warm and filled with turtles. There were also several loons on the lake and I loved to hear their calls. For some reason, it made me feel really Canadian.

The beach filled up fast and the kids had a blast swimming & snorkelling. We busted out our enormous float Ryan purchased at Costco and four adults and six kids floated around the lake swimming and having a great time.

What struck me most about this area was how WARM it was! I love Waterton but even in the summer, the place gets chilly at night. In Koocanusa we were wearing t-shirts and shirts well after dark.

We spent Sunday morning back at the lake. We walked around the lake and counted 17 turtles and floated a little more. After lunch we headed for home.

In Pincher Creek Ryan asked if he should get gas since we were at an 1/8 of a tank. I told him of course but he decided we could make it and drove past a gas station. The whole drive I was telling him we wouldn’t make it and he said you have an hour of driving after a gas light turns on-where did he get that fact? Sure enough, we were 10 minutes from Magrath and the care ran out of gas. We had to call the kids mom and her husband to come bring us gas. Needless to say, I was mad and it added 45 minutes on to our time before were home.


Have you been camping in Koocanusa?

Have you ever run out of gas? I ALWAYS make sure I have at least 1/4 tank while travelling!


5 thoughts on “Camping in Koocanusa

  1. Looks like a lovely place to camp.

    That sucks about running out of gas. I’ve come so close a few times but my car tells me how many km’s until empty so I chance it more than I probably should sometimes.

  2. This sounds so beautiful! Can you remember where exactly you found the free camping spot or how to get there? (I’m a clean earth loving camper, very respectful of the land)

    1. Absolutely Sara! If you are on Highway 3 headed west of Fernie you will go through Elko and pass the turn off for Highway 93 and pass the Highway 93 ice cream stand. Take the next left onto Kikokum Newgate Road and follow that road for about 10 minutes. You’ll go over a bridge on Lake Koocanusa and pass a marina and go up hill. The camp ground sites are on the right and the entrance is on your right by a small fenced in area that contains several garbage cans (for the campers). That are has several gravel roads that weave through the woods and you pick your campsite! It’s pretty easy. Have a wonderful time! And if you’re on social media tag me so I can see your camping pics. 🙂

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