Written in partnership with bloggers Jules and Christine of Don't Forget to Move
If you’re in North America, you’re probably winding down from a summer full of fun. But there's still time for some more outdoor activities before the weather cools down, and for us that means camping! There are an endless amount of beautiful places to camp on this continent. From the serene campgrounds in the Rocky Mountains to sleeping on the soft sands of the California coast, it’s hard to choose the perfect one. That’s why we’ve narrowed our list down to the best lake camping in North America.
Lakes offer a whole range of exciting activities to enjoy, such as water skiing, tubing, boating or just splashing around to cool off. And on those hot days when you need to stay hydrated, that’s even easier if you’ve got your LifeStraw reusable water bottle by your side! Simply dip it into the water and away you go. So grab your tent and your favorite marshmallow roasting stick, and check out our favorite lake camping spots in North America:
Lake Tahoe, California
Tahoe is an old favorite, especially for west coast campers. Sure it can get busy in the summer, and sometimes you have to contend with drunk teenagers, but when you catch your first glimpse of the big blue beauty you’ll see that it’s worth fighting the crowds for. This huge lake straddles the border of California and Nevada. It’s about a 4 hour drive from San Francisco, making it a popular weekend getaway for Bay Area residents. Lake Tahoe appeals to pretty much everyone, whether you want to splurge on a boat rental or just soak up the sun on the shore.
With such a big lake comes plenty of opportunities for camping spots. Meeks Bay is a great choice for camping on the westside of Lake Tahoe, with the local resort having plenty of rental options like kayaks, stand up paddle boards and pedal boats. If you’re looking for a more secluded campground, Emerald Bay Boat Camp is a great pick. Located on the southwestern coast of Lake Tahoe, this campground stays particularly quiet because it’s only reachable by boat and kayak! True adventure style!
Lagos de Montebello, Mexico
Technically this choice might be cheating because it’s not one lake, but a set of 59 beautiful lakes located in the southernmost state of Chiapas, Mexico. Mexico may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of lake camping, but it definitely shouldn’t be ruled out. Lagos de Montebello is, in our humble opinion, one of the most underrated natural attractions in North America.
The lakes are located in a national park, which includes 2 mayan ruins, and has been recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. The area is best explored by car because the lakes span over 8,000 acres. The minerals in the land give the lakes a stunning color that ranges from bright turquoise to dark navy.
There are several designated campsites in the national park. It’s up to you which lake you’d like to camp near! Camping at Lagos de Montebello is a bit more rustic than lake camping in the US, so you’re best bet is to ask for the best camping spots once you get down there. The perk is that you’ll escape the neverending crowds of national parks in the US. And for those nervous to go south of the border, Chiapas has a reputation for being one of the country’s safest states.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is located on the US/Canada border in Montana. Whichever time of year you plan to visit Glacier, it is always stunning. The autumn foliage is drop dead gorgeous and even though it can be challenging to visit in the snow, the blanket of white is so serene. But if you want to experience everything this park has to offer, we recommend visiting in the summer. The summer season is perfect for keeping you warm on those high elevation hikes and while swimming in the very chilly glacier-fed lakes.
With 13 campgrounds located around Glacier National Park, there are over 1,000 individual campsites to choose from! And with over 700 lakes and ponds in the park, it’s not hard to find a site near the water. Finding a spot in Sprague Creek Campground will land you on the northeast shore of Lake McDonald, Glacier’s biggest lake. If you’re looking for a more remote spot, Quartz Creek Campground is a small primitive campground right on the water that will give you the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, in the best way possible!
Even though the lakes here are glacier water, you’ll still want to use your LifeStraw bottle to filter! The National Park Service recommends that you avoid drinking unfiltered water due to the possible presence of giardia or other parasites, so don’t forget to pack your LifeStraw Go bottle.
Grundy Lake Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
You didn’t think I’d leave Canada off the list, did ya? Canada is home to some of the most gorgeous lakes in the world. But with Instagram spilling the secret on the beauty of Lake Louise and other Canadian favorites, it’s almost impossible to get the feeling of serenity that is the whole point of being outdoors. Luckily, there are plenty of quieter lakes in Canada that are perfect for camping.
It’s hard to escape the crowds at Canada’s beautiful parks, but Grundy Lake Provincial Park in Ontario is a relatively quiet camping destination, especially in comparison to the herds of tourists in Banff. Grundy has a string of both big and small lakes, including Gurd Lake, Pakeshkag Lake and it’s namesake, Grundy Lake. If you have a vehicle you can use the RV or car camping spots right by the lake. But if you’re there for some real adventure, they have backcountry camping spots only accessible by canoe.
Didn’t bring your own canoe? No worries! You can rent a canoe or kayak from Grundy Lake Supply Post. While you’re cruising across the calm water you take a refreshing sip straight from the lake with your LifeStraw! Once you set up camp, be sure to hike over to Gut Lake where you can jump off the rocks into the water. Extra points if you’re brave enough for the 15 foot drop!
Berg Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Berg Lake is located in Mount Robson Provincial Park in BC, Canada. This gorgeous outdoor destination is no stranger to the best North America hiking and camping lists. Berg Lake is popular, especially during long weekends in the summer. It would probably be even busier, but thanks to its difficult to reach location, it doesn’t suit travelers who prefer “drive up, snap a pic and get back in the car” campsites.
The only way to reach the lake is by taking the 21km (one way!) Berg Lake trail. There are seven campgrounds on the way to and around the lake. Don’t expect any luxury here; you won’t find any showers or flush toilets at these campsites. Because of the length of the trail, it’s recommended to spend a few days hiking in, exploring and hiking out.
Berg Lake is a glacial lake, so you won’t find a warm swim here! Instead, the real treat for your long hike is the stunning views you’ll get along the way. Canada is known for its gorgeous lake views and scenic mountain ranges, and this park does the country justice. Your hike will take you through the Valley of a Thousand Falls, named for the (you guessed it!) plethora of waterfalls that surround you on all sides. When you arrive at Berg Lake, you’ll see that this is really the piece de resistance of the park, with its gorgeous views of Mount Robson towering overhead.
With these many options (and so many more!), who can say no to a lake camping trip to say so long to summer? From the south of Mexico to Eastern Canada and all the beautiful US sites in between, North America has an endless amount of lakes to explore. Whichever you choose, remember to bring your favorite LifeStraw products so you can find safe drinking water wherever you go!
Jules and Christine make up the team at Don’t Forget To Move, a blog that specializes in promoting responsible tourism and inspiring adventure travel around the world. They write about authentic travel experiences and help you get off the grid, have an adventure and do it in a sustainable way. Follow Jules and Christine on Instagram and Facebook.