Oddly enough, Lower Lake Campground feels like kind of a letdown. That’s an unfair assessment, but as I sit down to write this after such lengthy, positive, glowing, even, reviews of Boulton Creek, Elkwood, and Interlakes campgrounds, it’s how I’m feeling. Lower Lake campground just didn’t inspire me much.
Context, of course, is everything in these matters and an uninspired campground in Kananaskis Country remains a thing of beauty. You are, after all, camping here for the surroundings far more than the amenities. In fact, there are many who would consider less to be more in this respect. A whole lot more.
As one of many campgrounds to choose from in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Lower Lake is somewhat of a hybrid. Closer in size to Boulton Creek and Elkwood but more similar in location to Interlakes, it’s a fine mix of the three with forested loops of spacious campsites, a handful of which offer lakeside views.
As was the case with Interlakes and Elkwood, we did not camp in Lower Lake. Our campsite was in nearby Boulton Creek and we only took a quick drive through Lower Lake campground to see how it stacked up. Take that as you wish, but based on layout and site configuration, I feel its safe to say a camping experience at Lower Lake would match that of any other campground in Peter Lougheed.
With three loops, A through C, Lower Lake campground offers 95 first come first serve sites on the flats beside Lower Kananaskis lake. Most of the sites are back-in style but a few pull-throughs are reportedly available. In addition, unlike much of what we saw at the other big campgrounds in this park, Lower Lake campground has some shared sites. They do not appear to be marketed as such, but one look at them and it’s obvious you either share this dual site with friends are or especially comfortable when it comes to camping with strangers.
Some of the campsites we passed were remarkably “deep” in the sense they were tucked very far back into the woods. With level gravel pads, a picnic table, and a firepit, this “deep” setting really appealed to me. The privacy of these sites is exceptional even for a mountain campground where campsites are generally spacious.
Additionally, there are a handful of sites backing onto the lake. Not “right on” the lake as those glorious Interlakes sites are, but still close enough to offer a pretty view between the trees. These would be my first target though the remainder of the sites are still suitably appealing.
Another interesting quirk of Lower Lake campground are the 9 walk-in tenting sites hidden in the woods between loop C and the lake. I didn’t even know these existed and we certainly didn’t notice them in our brief drive-through, but according to the campground map on the operator website, they do exist. I imagine these are quite the plum for “real” campers.
Like Interlakes, none of these campsites have any services. Combined with the FCFS status of all the sites, this just isn’t they type of campground we target for our family. We’re a bit spoiled, okay?
Furthermore, without the overwhelming wow factor of those lakeside sites in Interlakes campground, if we were to make the effort to come here midweek (or earlier), I doubt we would target Lower Lake campground anyway. Your mileage may vary on that assessment. It’s not as though the place is a dump.
As you might have guessed, pit toilets and potable water spigots are the name of the game at Lower Lake. The pit toilets are no different than those found elsewhere in the park. Tolerable, but still pit toilets. The water taps are kind of funky here. Unlike in the two big campgrounds, Lower Lake campground still has the red handpumps which are a quaint throwback. I like them.
Likewise, there is no dump station in this campground either. You are, however, across the highway from Boulton Creek so I suppose you could slip in there with your RV and use that one. Otherwise, there’s Canyon dump station on the main road nearer the exit to the highway.
If there is one highlight to applaud at Lower Lake campground, it is the playground. It’s not huge or amazing by any stretch, but the fact that it exists at all seems worthy of mention. Boulton Creek doesn’t have one nor does Interlakes. Elkwood has one but that’s too far away for the patrons of these three clustered campgrounds. Considering the dearth of playgrounds elsewhere in the park, I was a bit startled to stumble upon this one.
Like the other campgrounds, Lower Lake has a manager/host. Their site sites next to a large shed filled with firewood you can purchase. A registration kiosk near the entrance allows for self-registration and, as mentioned above, there are no reservations available.
In contrast to Interlakes, Lower Lake campground is located very close to Boulton Creek. Across the road, in fact. This makes it reasonably close for accessing the Trading Post general store and equipment rental facility. Also, the ice cream. You could even walk it with a bit of effort. A bike ride would be no problem. This puts the showers, flush toilets, and foodstuffs all within convenient reach of Lower Lake campers.
Lower Lake day use area (see Boulton Creek campground review for details) is positioned immediately beside Lower Lake campground but the two are not mutually accessible by vehicle. There are a couple trails from the campground loops over to the day use area, but if you’re taking your vehicle with, say, kayaks in tow, you will need to leave the campground, scoot up the road a hundred metres, and head back to the lake along the day use road. Not a huge deal, but weird nonetheless considering their proximity to each other.
Beyond the campground limits, all the other activities and pleasures of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park are available to Lower Lake campers. The Discovery Centre, hiking trails, and gobsmacking beauty surround you. It really is a beautiful place without the overwhelming tourism of Banff.
What does this all mean for a rating? There isn’t anything wrong with Lower Lake campground unless you really like services at your campsite. I don’t not recommend it. I just feel that there are more appealing campgrounds available for my tastes. I’d choose Boulton Creek, Elkwood, or Interlakes over Lower Lake campground.
That reality means a demotion of some sort is needed. I’ll give Lower Lake campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park 3.50 Baby Dill Pickles out of 5. The playground is a delightful plus, but Lower Lakes’s position in my personal pecking order leaves it a bit wanting. Hey, even the biggest loser at Miss Universe is a knockout. Competition is unfair, sometimes.
I noticed that it’s reservable this year. As in June 2020. I always thought it was FCFS before.
I believe all Alberta Parks campgrounds are reservation only in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. It’s nice for sticklers like me but I’ll be shocked if it continues beyond this anomalous year.