Some campgrounds are just not meant for spending a lot of time in, and Robson Meadows Campground at Mount Robson Provincial Park is one such campground. This is not to say Robson Meadows is a terrible campground. It’s a fine, serviceable campground by most standards. It’s just that this isn’t a place you go to solely to camp. Rather, it serves as a sleepover spot for road trippers or as base camp for alpine explorers. As such, people spend limited minutes of their day actually in Robson Meadows Campground.
Located on the south side of the Yellowhead Highway, the northern leg of the TransCanada highway network, across from the Mount Robson Provincial Park Visitor Centre, Robson Meadows Campground is a uniquely spiraled campground tucked away in the trees. We spent a grand total of one night here, using it as a pit stop during our long drive back to Calgary from Smithers. I suspect we aren’t the only vacationers utilizing the place for such short duration purposes.
As a layover, Robson Meadows is a suitable option providing an attractive and convenient location to set up camp for a meal and shuteye before heading back out on the road. There isn’t a whole lot to do but then you really aren’t looking for entertainment in this scenario. It’s hard to rave about a place you used solely for sleep. It’s hard to complain either, as we enjoyed a fairly quiet, peaceful evening and night here which was exactly what we needed to refresh ourselves for the final leg of our journey.
There are many others, however, who use Robson Meadows for more than a layover and yet they too don’t spend much time in the campground aside from eating and sleeping. These people are here to enjoy many outdoor pursuits such as hiking, kayaking, and even mountaineering. With the towering Mount Robson to the north and the Fraser River to the south, this is a prime spot for outdoor recreation. During our few hours there we saw plenty of fit adventurers returning from their days of exploration. I am incapable of enjoying such sports, but I have no doubt this is an excellent location to relish them.
Mount Robson Provincial Park is basically a provincially administrated extension of Jasper National Park. Why it is not just part of Jasper is beyond me but such is the wooly world of politics. Not surprisingly, Mount Robson Campground is indistinguishable from Wapiti Campground or Whistlers Campground, save for its distinctive but ultimately unimportant spiral layout. The sites are spacious and well separated with limited underbrush to provide visual privacy. Each comes fitted with a level, gravel pad, a stationary, thick, wooden picnic table, and a fire pit. I love these kinds of sites and thankfully they dominate mountain parks, both national and provincial.
None of the sites have any services so if you are spending more than a night there you’ll want to fill up your RV with water upon arrival and be sure your batteries are charged. Of course, the outdoor recreation set aren’t always camping in grandiose RVs, preferring tents or unique, smaller camping vehicles and for them fresh water is available from the smattering of taps throughout the campground.
Similarly, pit toilets can be found in various spots and for those with higher expectations for their unpleasant business, two shower houses with flush toilets and sinks are present, one in each half of the circular campground. These shower houses are fairly clean though not exceptionally large. They do, however, have a family room in addition to the traditional men’s and women’s, so if you’re there with younger kids or need wheelchair accessible facilities, you will be accommodated.
If you are traveling with kids, even if just spending one night, you’ll be disappointed by the lack of a playground. When trying to set up camp for just twelve hours, it’s nice to have a place to ship the kids to keep them out of your hair. The lacking playground is especially vexing when there is an open field located in the centre of the campground that contains a shoddy volleyball court and robust, but aged, horseshoe pits. The kids, oddly enough, set about playing some horseshoes, something I’ve tried to interest them in for years now, so that was surprisingly rewarding. Still, I’m sure they’d have preferred a playground.
As was the case our entire trip this summer, a fire ban was in full effect so we didn’t investigate the cost or source of firewood. With the way things are going climate-wise, I’m not sure there will be campfires in BC for many years to come. In fact, our night in Robson Meadows was the worst of our entire trip for forest fire smoke. We had miraculously avoided the worst of the smoke but this day it was exceptionally noticeable, impacting our comfort and views of the great mountains. We saw Mount Robson more clearly two weeks earlier from atop Whistlers Mountain in Jasper than we did standing at the foot of it!
As noted above, the campground is located immediately beside the highway and you will hear traffic noise throughout the night. This is a major thoroughfare through the Rockies and trucks are on the road all hours of the day. That said, it wasn’t terribly disruptive. And with no rail line in the immediate vicinity, we didn’t hear the dreaded freight trains which are far more invasive than highway traffic.
Across the road from Robson Meadows Campground is the Mount Robson Provincial Park visitor complex. In addition to the visitor centre building, which provides all the information and help needed for those looking to camp, hike, or otherwise enjoy the activities Mount Robson has to offer, there is a gas station, souvenir shop, and a café. A large parking area is available for drivers looking to stretch their legs and simply stare up at Mount Robson and the other peaks in the area for a short break.
The visitor centre also has free WIFI which is a boon considering there is no cell service for miles in each direction. Note, however, that reception of this WIFI is limited to the immediate vicinity of the visitor centre and when the doors shut in the evening, you’ll need to do some careful searching around the building perimeter to get a good signal.
We witnessed several would-be campers and hikers getting help from the friendly staff at the visitor center and I suspect this is a popular place for Canadians and international travelers alike. Perhaps not as famous as its national park brethren, there is nonetheless lots of gorgeous terrain to explore here and this is undoubtedly a destination of note for those in the know.
The visitor centre complex has a small, rock climbing wall style playground to the one side. It isn’t much and is almost comical as a standalone playground. Why they bothered to build just this, and not have anything in the neighbouring campground, is beyond me.
Also, a dump station supposedly exists somewhere in the greater visitor centre complex but I couldn’t find it while just looking around. We didn’t need to use it and I suppose campers that do will make an effort to find it, but it wasn’t readily observable to me.
What can I say? Robson Meadows Campground in Mount Robson Provincial Park served our purpose just fine. As a one night stopover, we were satisfied with our experience. As a destination for family camping, I doubt we’d make much effort to come here again. If we were kayakers or hikers, I could see this being a much more interesting destination for camping but we aren’t those people. With no playground and being relatively isolated but beside a highway, it isn’t that appealing as a vacation campground. I’ll give it 3 Baby Dill Pickles out of 5. It does what is needed without much more. Your mileage may vary on this one depending on your preferred pursuits.
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