Camping in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Part I

Kevin and I are both outdoorsy people. We’ll come up with any excuse to head to the mountains for the weekend, could spend an eternity camping under the stars, and have started collecting random trail guides for various parts of the country on the off chance we ever go for a visit.

When the weather finally began to get a bit nicer around here, we decided to brush off our camping gear and head out on a 4 day camping trip. We braved the crowds and traveled 4 hours south of Calgary to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park – the only campground in Alberta that still had a couple of sites available to reserve for the long weekend.

As I mentioned on Friday, we had planned to get an early start to the day and be on the road by Thursday morning but various hurdles made it impossible for us to make our way until 1pm or so.

We still made good time, getting to the site just after 5pm.

There are a bunch of different campsites within Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park – some on the Alberta side, others on the Saskatchewan side. Luckily we didn’t have to drive all the way to Saskatchewan to guarantee our spot. We chose a walk-in site at Reesor Lake, a 17km drive from the main campground at Cypress Hills. Reesor Lake is quiet and made up of approximately 50 campsites.

After we unloaded the car, it was decided that I would be in charge of assembling the tent and Kevin would try his hand at erecting the cooking tent. That thing is a pain to put together, so I didn’t complain when the tent poles kept popping out of their sockets and jabbing me in the arm. Small price to pay for sanity.

Once I had the sleeping tent put together, cot, sleeping bags and all, I decided to help Kevin with the cooking tent. And when I say help, read – take pictures.

We managed to have our space set up in under 1.5 hours, not bad!

We spent the rest of the evening touring the the park, stocking up on firewood and playing card games.

Friday morning started early for us… by accident. I had forgotten to cancel my weekday alarm, so it woke us all up at 4am, dogs included. We all tried to get back to sleep but it just wasn’t working for us. We started the morning with some happy tummy breakfast pudding and lounged by the campfire until 10am when we decided to head into Medicine Hat to get some groceries, have lunch, and tour the city a bit.

The campground was about 1.5 hours from Medicine Hat, a city of about 60,000 people. A quick Urbanspoon search for gluten-free restaurants in Medicine Hat lead us to Zucchini Blossom, a gluten-free friendly cafe just off the Trans Canada Highway.

Review of this tasty spot coming soon ;)

We got back to the campsite around 5pm, just in time for me to get started on dinner – vegetable medley with lean and clean turkey burgers on gluten-free burger “buns”.

Following dinner, I did the dishes while Kevin prepped for a fire. We sat at the fire for a bit, then went to bed at 9pm.

Rough life.

For breakfast on Saturday, I scrambled leftover burger with egg and peppers for Kevin and whipped up a breakfast pudding for myself. That stuff is magical, seriously. My tummy often gets a bit upset when traveling, camping included, but my digestion didn’t experience any issues during this trip.

The power’s in the pudding!

I was a bit disappointed with the layout of the walk-in campsites at Reesor Lake. Each site had about 2-3 feet between one another with absolutely no privacy. The picture below has 3 campsites in it. Come Saturday morning at 8am, the place was bumping with activity!

We remembered driving past a small cafe in Elkwater, the townsite on Elkwater lakeshore, so decided to make our way into town in hopes that it would be quieter than the campground.

We were pleasantly surprised with the cafe! It had internet, which we didn’t use… until Sunday, fresh baked muffins, breads, cookies, and loads of teas and specialty coffees.

I’d hoped that perhaps there would be at least one gluten-free goodie… but there wasn’t. I did make a request, though!

We ordered two large teas and a fresh-baked cinnamon bun for Kevin. The cinnamon bun looked absolutely divine, soft, gooey and fresh out of the oven. After enjoying his cinnamon bun in silence, Kevin went on to proclaim that it was the best he’d ever had… ever.

Once the cinnamon bun was out of the way, we got lost in a couple of games of Monopoly Deal. If you haven’t played this game, you must! It goes so much quicker than the board game version and requires far more skill and forethought.

I beat Kevin the first couple of games, but he had me schooled for the rest of our trip. I challenged him to a rematch when we go camping again early August. Watch yourself Kevin, I’m coming for you!

We headed back to the campsite around 1pm and were pleasantly surprised to find that everyone had left for the day, leaving us with the whole space to ourselves! We made a quick lunch of soup and salad, then went for a 3 hour nap.

Napping is a camping necessity. Some people hike when they go camping, stay up really late, or drink a bunch of beer… Kevin and I nap.

Then we wake up while everyone is preparing dinner and we’re fresh and ready to go. Just look at that face, hah!

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    • Thanks Cheryl, I’ll be writing about eating healthy while camping in a couple of days here. Eating healthy while camping just requires a bit of planning ahead of time, nothing too crazy! Glad you think everything still looks fresh and exciting!

  1. Ugh you are making me want to go camping so badly! I can’t wait until it’s cool enough in Florida to be outside for extended periods of time again. I absolutely love all the photos you took. It is a bummer when you are camping so close to other people though!

  2. Aw wow, you make me want to come back out west so badly!! It looks like you guys had a lot of fun, despite the lack of privacy. I guess people don’t really go camping expecting to be able to sleep in for hours in the morning! I’d have probably been up at 4am without an alarm because that’s just the way my body works lol! I can’t wait to read the review of the restaurant. Oh, and I suppose you’ll have to be back in the kitchen soon creating a cinnamon bun recipe that beats the one Kevin had!? :P I’d take one of yours any day! :)

    • You’re welcome out here any time! The pictures you took over the weekend of the falls were equally as amazing. I’ve never been to your neck of the woods, would love to visit sometime :) Pretty sure everyone in the campsite was angry at me when I woke them all up at 4am. Eh well. I’m sad to say that I don’t think I can beat the one Kevin had… it was so stretchy and perfect. But I’ll try, of course! The girl who created the recipe said that the secret ingredient was vanilla pudding. Could be what my cinnamon bun recipe was missing? Trials are set to begin!

  3. It looks like you guys definitely know how to camp right, typically, I love to camp for a night or two, but I could do 4 hanging with you guys..all that yummy food, going to cafes, hiking, exploring..luv it! :)

    • That would be a blast! I used to go camping with 20+ friends on crown land about 3 hours drive from the city. It was such a fun time. The more the merrier!

  4. Love hearing about your fun trip! I also love how you give us the details…..I’m not a camper myself, but would love to try it again, and so like hearing where you went and how you did it. Love the details!

  5. Looks like a fabulous trip! I love Cypress Hills, I used to work on the HAC crew in the park. The summer I was there was a month of extreme fire weather so we got to go up in the helicopter every day and check for fires. I sure miss it out there :) We have an RV, we tried tenting it once when our daughter was born….ummmmm, I’m a wuss LOL!!!

    • What a COOL job! That must have been so amazing. I’ve never been in a helicopter but have always wanted to give it a go. Do you guys go camping often? Taking a newborn camping is gutsy. My parents did it with me when I was only a month old. They’re nuts.

  6. Looks like you guys had a very relaxing trip! Question for you: when you guys would go to restaurants, would you take your dogs? My boyfriend has a dog [miniature pinscher (sp?)] and would like to bring her when we go camping. But when we would go somewhere, I would feel horrible leaving her in the Jeep while we are indoors somewhere. Glad you had a fun trip! Making me jealous! :)

    • It was very, very relaxing! We often bring the dogs with us to various places – grocery shopping, road trips, heck sometimes when I go to fill up my car with gas I’ll take them along for the ride. They’re both very accustomed to our vehicles and have never had a problem hanging out while Kevin and I are indoors. That being said, we wouldn’t leave them for hours at a time, but a 45min – 1 hour wait is fine for them. They’re both crate trained and we use the back of the vehicle as their “crate”. They know when they’re there, the same rules apply!

      • That’s really cool! I think his dog would be ok with that too. She’d prolly just curl up on a blanket and take a nap :)

    • haha something I didn’t mention… how’d you know I have a sore back and am COVERED in bites? Can’t.stop.scratching…

  7. You guys KNOW how to camp. Love that you played Monopoly. I’m actually a little nervous to take my kids camping this week–first time with FOUR kids. A lot of work, but so worth the fresh air & there’s no replacement for being up in the mountains, away from the bustle of modern life.

    • My parents taught me well! We camped all year round from the time I was 1 month to when I lost interest in spending time with them in my teens. It’s so great that you’re taking the four out in the wilderness. They’ll have great memories of this adventure forever, guaranteed! I can’t wait to hear about it!

  8. Leanne, thank you for these photos that tempt me to travel to Canada ! Kevin and you are very lucky to live in such a wonderful place : that forest seems to be so beautiful.
    I used to camp with my parents when I was a teenager : such a great memory ! I think that when you have kids it could be an unforgettable experience, for you and them.
    I look forward to reading “Camping in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park PART 2″ !

    • Hi Valerie – When you do come, you have a place to stay for SURE! I’d love to show you around Canada! It is a very, very beautiful place, that’s for sure. My parents camped with my sister and I, too. You’re right, it creates memories that last a lifetime. It’s nice that your parents did the same. Part II is just around the corner! Hope all is well on your end ;)

  9. It sure looks like you were graced with an incredible camping experience! OK, so when are you coming to my house to cook and prepare and plan? LOL You can even make delicious food while camping in a tent!

    And you opened the “can of worms,” so where is the healthy gluten-, soy, dairy, egg-, sugar-free recipe for Samoas? Do you have one? Any graham cracker recipe? This would be perfect for today, the Fourth of July!


    • I wish I had a good samosa recipe, but I don’t… yet. One of these days I’ll get the recipe right! Enjoy the festivities, Chris ;)

  10. Wow, looks like you had an awesome time Leanne, thanks so much for sharing with us! I too really love camping and I realize I haven’t been in way too long…

    Oh, and gorgeous pics, as usual!

    And really, you wake up at 4am? OMG! And I thought I got up early! Gee. At what time do you go to bed? Like 8pm or something? ;)

  11. Hi Leanne,

    Thanks so much for all the tips! I am headed to one of Reesor Lake’s walk in grounds rhis weekend. Being new to camping, I was hoping you could tell me how far the walk in is and provide any other tips.

    Keep up the great adventures and naps!!!

    • Hi Allison! The site we were at… it was about a 15 second walk? Not too bad at all! I hope that helps :)

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