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Backcountry camping

There is a hike-in campground located 1 km from the parking lot on the northeastern shore of Lower Elk lake, which provides pit toilets, fire rings, food cache, and tent pads. 

Backcountry camping fee: $5 per person per night (age 6+)

BC Parks reservation service allows you to purchase a backcountry camping permit before leaving home. Although the system does not reserve a campsite, the system provides visitors the convenience of prepaying for their trip and not having to carry cash. We encourage all visitors to register online so we can reduce the need to collect fees in the field.

For in-park registration, please fill in a self-registration envelope and deposit payment into the drop box. The camping fees are collected by the Alpine Club of Canada. Retain your permit for presentation to the ACC custodian during routine campground check. 

See the wilderness camping section for other camping opportunities in the park.

Cabins and huts

The Alpine Club of Canada operates a small public lodge at the entrance to the core area of the park. For more information or reservations contact the Alpine Club of Canada at 403-678-3200 or through the Alpine Club of Canada website

User fees are payable to the Alpine Club of Canada. The ACC advanced booking policies do not apply to the Elk Lakes Cabin. All visitors are able to make bookings for this facility up to one year in advance.

Alpine Club of Canada Park Operator Agreement: The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) is the successful proponent for the Park Operator Agreement in Elk Lakes Park to maintain and operate the Elk Lakes Cabin and Lower Elk Lakes Campground for another ten-year term, ending March 31, 2030. Beginning March 16, 2020, the ACC will be accepting reservations for overnight bookings in the Elk Lakes Cabin for April 1, 2020, and onward. For reservations, contact the Alpine Club of Canada at 403-678-3200.
Wilderness camping

Wilderness camping is permitted at several areas in the park. There is no camping fee for these locations.

  • Petain Creek: Camping is permitted in the Petain Creek Valley and Petain Basin. 
  • Cadorna Creek Watershed: Camping is permitted in the Cadorna Creek Watershed. The backcountry campground at Abruzzi Lake offers a pit toilet, fire ring, and two tent pads. Please use existing rock rings and impacted campsites throughout the Cadorna Watershed.
  • Fox Lake: Camping is prohibited. 

Please practice wilderness camping Leave No Trace ethics.

Winter camping
All designated sites are available for winter camping. You will require equipment suitable for camping in several feet of snow. It is illegal to cut vegetation to create shelters or for insulation.
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Campfires are permitted in designated areas. Communal fire rings are located at the Lower Elk Lakes campground. Firewood is stored at the Alpine Club of Canada Cabin and a wheelbarrow is provided to transport firewood to the campground from the cabin. Have fires only when necessary and keep them small to conserve trees. Bring a portable stove for cooking. Campfire bans may be implemented during extremely hot weather conditions.
Picnic areas
The Lower Elk Lakes campsite can be used for walk-in picnics.
Pit or flush toilets

This park only has pit toilets, no flush toilets.

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Visitors to Elk Lakes Park have a number of hiking trails to choose from. Developed trails exist in the core area from the trailhead to Upper Elk Lakes and connect Peter Lougheed, an Alberta Provincial Park, to Elk Lakes.  

For the adventurous, a less developed trail system leads into Cadorna, Wolverine, and Abruzzi Lakes. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.


There are limited cold swimming opportunities at this park. There are no lifeguards on duty.


Both canoeing and kayaking can be done in the lakes. The streams and rivers are not navigable. The closest lake to the main access parking lot is a 1 km walk with a 30 m elevation change.


A favourite activity of many park visitors is angling in the Elk River, Cadorna Creek and lakes throughout Elk Lakes Park. Species include bull trout, Rocky Mountain whitefish and cutthroat trout. 

Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence. Consult the B.C. Fishing Regulations for special restrictions.

Tips for fishing in Elk Lakes Park:

  • The best time period for fishing is right after break-up and from September to freeze-up. 
  • Fishing in the river and main lakes is poor during run-off (July-August). 
  • If cleaning fish along the shore please ensure the entrails are thrown into deep water or dispose of fish remains in a hot fire. 
  • Do not disturb spawning fish. 
Pets on leash
Dogs in backcountry parks must be kept on a leash or under control at all times because of potential problems with wildlife such as bears. Care should be taken to avoid disturbance of wildlife, particularly nesting birds. Dogs are not permitted inside the Elk Lakes cabin. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement.

Biking is permitted between the Elk Lakes trailhead parking lot and the Lower Elk Lake campground. Biking is not permitted beyond the campground or on any other trails. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.

For details on e-biking within Elk Lakes Park, see the e-biking section.


Please note that bicycles with electric assist motors (e-bikes) are permitted on signed or designated trails within Elk Lakes Park, provided they meet the definitions and criteria for e-bike use as outlined in the BC Parks cycling guidelines.

Horseback riding
Horse use is only allowed in the Cadorna Watershed.
Both mountaineering and ice climbing opportunities exist within the park.

Elk Lakes Park is open to hunting. Check the B.C. Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis for more details.

Winter recreation
There is limited winter use for ski touring and snowshoeing from British Columbia due to unploughed roads. It is possible to reach the park from Alberta via Peter Lougheed Park ski trails. Please note dogs are not allowed on these ski trails or in the cabin at Elk Lakes. Travel is relatively easy through the lower areas. Do not follow the summer hiking trail to Upper Elk Lake via Fox Lake since there are numerous avalanche paths along the way. Instead, follow meadows in a southerly direction until the power line is reached.

Ice fishing opportunities exist in the park however both Lower and Upper Elk Lakes are closed to ice fishing.