E.C. Manning Park: Backcountry camping

E.C. Manning Park is one of British Columbia’s most popular backcountry camping destinations. Backcountry camping at E.C. Manning Park is allowed only in designated campgrounds. In almost all cases, you must register for a backcountry permit before staying overnight at any of these campgrounds.

Between June 30 and September 3, you will need a specific reservation to stay at Buckhorn Campground. A general backcountry permit will still be required for all other backcountry campgrounds in E. C. Manning Park. To learn more, visit the E.C. Manning Park: Buckhorn Campground reservations page.

Stay on this page for information on how to:

This page also provides information on camping at the following campgrounds:

‘Backcountry’ means an area more than 1km away from any highway or park road. Backcountry campgrounds are not accessible by vehicle and have very limited facilities.

Permits, reservations, and fees

A backcountry permit is required for overnight stays in the backcountry at E.C. Manning Park. To learn more about getting a permit, visit the backcountry permit registration page.

For most of the year, your permit will allow you to stay at any designated camping area in E.C. Manning’s backcountry. However, to stay at Buckhorn Campground during peak season, you must make a specific camping reservation instead.

For more information on making a peak-season reservation, visit the E.C. Manning Park: Buckhorn Campground reservations page.

The backcountry camping fee is $5 per person per night for everyone six years of age or older. Children younger than six camp for free. This fee is the same for a general backcountry permit or a Buckhorn Campground reservation.

Anyone over 16 years of age can register for a permit in advance via camping.bcparks.ca. You can also register by calling 1-800-689-9025 toll free from Canada and the US or 1-519-858-6161 internationally.

Alternatively, you can register and pay for a permit upon arrival at the park. Backcountry permit registration is available at the Manning Park Visitor Centre, the Manning Park Lodge, and the Lightning Lake gatehouse.

Peak-season camping reservations for Buckhorn Campground must be made in advance through the BC Parks reservation service. Reservations cannot be booked at the park.

Responsible recreation

Backcountry camping in E.C. Manning Park is only allowed at designated campgrounds. Many of these are at high elevations and are not accessible until late June or early July. Check the trail report for the latest conditions:

All the backcountry campgrounds are close to creeks or other water sources. We recommend you treat water from these sources before using it. During summer, some water sources may dry up, so always bring a back-up supply.  

Campfires are not allowed at Buckhorn and Kicking Horse campgrounds. Elsewhere, campfires are not encouraged, and fire bans may be implemented during extreme hot weather. Be prepared and bring portable stoves for cooking.

Please practice Leave No Trace wilderness ethics on any trip to British Columbia’s backcountry. Take all garbage and other waste with you when you leave. If you pack it in, pack it out. 


Buckhorn Campground is the most popular backcountry camping area in E.C. Manning Park. It is particularly busy during the peak alpine bloom (usually late July to early August) and on long weekends.

Due to this campground’s growing popularity, we require reservations for all stays between June 30 and September 3, inclusive. We have made reservations mandatory so you can arrive certain that a tent pad is waiting for you.

To learn more about making a reservation, visit the E.C. Manning Park: Buckhorn Campground reservations page.

Buckhorn is in sub-alpine meadows at the 5km mark on the Heather Trail. It usually takes between an hour and 90 minutes to hike into the campground. There are 24 tent pads, a bear cache, outhouses, and a day-use shelter.

Campfires are not permitted at the Buckhorn Campground.

Frosty Mountain

Frosty Mountain Campground is at an elevation of 1,850m on the Frosty Mountain Trail. The hike to the campground is a strenuous 7km from the Lightning Lake day-use area.

Approximately 0.5km further along the Frosty Mountain Trail, a larch grove starts, which continues for about 1.5km. The peak of Frosty Mountain is at the end of this trail, 3.6km from the campground.

This campground has room for two or three tents. It includes a pit toilet, bear cache, and a fire ring. There is also a very rustic shelter for emergency use. Do not assume the shelter will be free as it is often occupied, especially during bad weather.

A small creek runs through the campsite. When the water is moving, you can fill your water bottles from this creek. We recommend that you treat the water before using it.

Grainger Creek

Grainger Creek Horse Camp is on Hope Pass Trail, just beyond the junction with Grainger Creek Trail. It is also 7.1km from Cayuse Flats and 11.5km from Nicomen Lake Campground.

This campground has space for three tents and includes a pit toilet and a firepit. Grainger Creek, a good water source, runs through the campground. We recommend that you treat the water before using it.

Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse Campground sits in sub-alpine meadows at the 13.5km mark of the Heather Trail. It includes eight tent pads, a bear cache, and an outhouse. This campground is very busy during the peak alpine bloom (usually late July to early August) and on long weekends.

Campfires are not allowed at Kicking Horse Campground.

Monument 78

This campground is just north of the U.S. border, where the Monument 78 and Pacific Crest trails meet. It is the first available Canadian campground for hikers heading north on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The campground features designated campsites and a pit toilet. Castle Creek, which offers reliable water, runs close to the campground. We recommend that you treat the water before using it.


Mowich Campground is at an elevation of 1,600m on the Skyline II Trail. It sits 12.5km from Strawberry Flats and 6.5km from the junction of the Skyline I and Skyline II trails. It is a popular place to see black bears and deer.

The campground has a pit toilet, bear cache, and room for four tents. During a hot, dry summer, water is not always readily available. Be prepared and bring your own water supply.

Nicomen Lake

Nicomen Lake Campground sits at the 23km mark on the Heather Trail, 17.5km from Cayuse Flats. It has room for six tents, with four of the tent pads located near the lake. The campground also has a shelter, fire pit, outhouse, and bear cache.

Nicomen Lake itself offers very good fishing opportunities at the height of summer. This cold, alpine lake freezes over during the winter and does not usually thaw until early July.

Pacific Crest

This campground is located on the Pacific Crest Trail. It is close to the intersection with Frosty Mountain Trail and 6.3km from the Windy Joe-Frosty Mountain trailhead parking lot.

The campground has space for four tents plus a pit toilet, and fire ring. A stream runs through the campground, which is a good water source. We recommend that you treat the water before using it.

We strongly recommend that you gather and treat your water here if you are continuing along the trail. There may be no opportunities to fill up further on.

Poland Lake

This campground is at the north-west end of Poland Lake, a strenuous 8km hike from Strawberry Flats. It has room for six tents and includes a shelter, pit toilets, a bear cache, and a fire pit.

A creek runs through the campground and into the lake. The lake water is very cold. It freezes over during winter and does not thaw until early July. During the winter, this remains a popular destination for camping and backcountry skiing.

In the spring, flowers bloom later here than in the sub-alpine meadows. This creates opportunities to see spring flowers that are otherwise missed. Additionally, black bears are often seen on the trail that crosses the ski-hill area.

Strike Lake

This campground is at the western end of Strike Lake, which is the third of four lakes on the Lightning Lake Chain Trail. The campground is nestled in a grove of tall Engelman Spruce trees, a relatively easy 90-minutes from the trailhead.

The campground has room for eight tents. It offers pit toilets, a bear cache, and a fire pit. As this is one of the most accessible campgrounds in the park and the first to be free of snow, it is very popular.