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25 Spectacular Places I’ve Pitched A Tent

25 Spectacular Places I’ve Pitched a Tent

Both John and I have spent a considerable amount of time in a tent – the equivalent of many years. In our twenties when we were both working as geologists, we’d spend the entire summer in a tent – though granted it was a stand-up tent. John has lived in a tent in northern Saskatchewan in the winter but I couldn’t take the cold. I called it quits when I woke up one morning and my contacts were frozen in the saline solution.

Still tenting and camping is part of who I am. I love luxury as much as anyone my age, but I love the areas I can access by hiking and staying in a tent. Enjoy these 25 spectacular places where I have pitched a tent.

Mount Kilimanjaro

John and I spent our 25th wedding anniversary climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro followed by a safari. The company we chose to go with offered an eight night, nine day tour. That’s a lot of camping at altitude. Our first night out was the worst camping experience of my life. We had hundreds of people camped together in the dustiest place I have ever visit.

Fortunately it got better the higher we went. One night it snowed but the morning was beautiful. Truly a treat to hike this mountain.

Read: Tips for Picking Routes on Kilimanjaro

Waking up to snow on tents while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro
Waking up to snow on tents while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Algonquin Provincial Park is 1.5 times bigger than Prince Edward Island so there’s a lot of wilderness to explore. Choose from over 2,000 kilometres of canoe routes. If you go in May – you can beat the blackflies and have the lakes almost all to yourself. It’s quite magical. In September the woods are ablaze with colour – and the biting insects have disappeared. 

Read: Early Season Canoeing in Algonquin Park

Looking out from my tent in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
Looking out from my tent in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
Another beautiful campsite on Head Lake in Algonquin Park
Another beautiful campsite on Head Lake in Algonquin Park

Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut

Fly into Pangnirtung on Baffin Island and then take a boat ride to get to Auyuittuq National Park. Over the course of 7 – 12 days hike up to Summit Lake and back, crossing the Arctic Circle on foot along with numerous rivers. Admire Mount Thor with the highest vertical rock face in the world. Enjoy pristine campsites, often with otherworldly views – and rarely with anyone else around. The most beautiful spot where we pitched a tent is on Summit Lake – pictured below.

Read: Across the Arctic Circle on Foot on Baffin Island 

Our campsite at Summit Lake
Our campsite at Summit Lake
Our tent looked out at this view in the Rock Gardens area
Our tent looked out at this view in the Rock Gardens area

Kayaking to Blackberry Point, Valdes Island, BC

Kayaking off the coast of Vancouver Island provides access to many incredible campsites – some quite wild. One that turned out to be far busier than anywhere I have camped before was Blackberry Point on Valdes Island. It’s an easy paddle over from Vancouver Island and a wonderful weekend trip even from Vancouver. We were the first to arrive and ended up with a lovely, private campsite with a view.

Read: Kayaking to Blackberry Point, Valdes Island 

The beach at Blackberry Point - campfires allowed
We pitched a tent on the beach at Blackberry Point before anyone else showed up – campfires allowed

Camping while cycling part of the Tour d’Afrique through Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia

Some years ago I joined my daughter on the Tour d’Afrique and cycled from Iringa, Tanzania to Victoria Falls in Zambia – some 2,500 kilometres if I remember correctly. There were a few campsites that were truly picturesque like the one on Lake Malawi (no good photos) but most were basic. Still once inside your tent, it didn’t matter where you were. It was truly a refuge and your home away from home. Some days we’d be inundated by local kids – and as charming as they were, you still had to watch all your gear like a hawk.

The following three campsites give you an idea of what it’s like camping on the Tour d’Afrique.

Somewhere in Zambia - and it's on grass
Somewhere in Zambia – and it’s on grass which is always a bonus
Camping on the Tour d'Afrique - hit the jackpot on this night with shade and clothes lines
Camping on the Tour d’Afrique – hit the jackpot on this night and pitched a tent where we got shade and clothes lines
The inside of your tent is a haven on a long trip like the Tour d'Afrique
The inside of your tent is a haven on a long trip like the Tour d’Afrique

Murtle Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC

A multi-day kayaking trip on Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Park is a fantastic experience. The lake in a setting ringed by mountains, is pristine. And even though it’s heavily forested there are still plenty of beautiful sandy beaches. Allow the better part of a week to do the park justice.

Read: Kayaking Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC

The far end of Murtle Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park
We pitched our tent one day at the far end of Murtle Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park
Fantastic beach camping beside Murtle Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC
Fantastic beach camping beside Murtle Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC

Pukaskwa National Park

Head to northern Ontario and stunning Pukaskwa National Park on the shores of Lake Superior for some superlative camping experiences. Over the course of 5 -6 days as you hike the Coastal Trail (one way) enjoy night after night of beautiful beach camping. 

Perhaps I should rephrase that as on our first night out we camped on the only flattish ground we could find as we couldn’t make the campsite at the pace we were going. What a view we found when we woke up.

Read: Hiking the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park 

What a scenic spot to spend the night
What a scenic spot to spend the night in Pukaskwa National Park
Guerrilla camping - the best we could do at 9:30 pm in the pitch dark
Guerrilla camping – the best we could do at 9:30 PM in the pitch dark

Baker Lake, Banff National Park

Baker Lake is a beauty though unfortunately none of the campsites offer actual Baker Lake views. Start at Lake Louise and hike in for a night or two to enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Read: Backpacking to Baker Lake in Banff National Park

Camping at the Baker Lake Campground, Banff National Park
Camping at the Baker Lake Campground, Banff National Park

The Tombstone Mountains, Yukon Territory

The Tombstone Mountain Range, especially in late August when the fall colours are in their full glory, is stunning in a way words can’t begin to describe. There is the option to do an overnight hike to Grizzly Lake – and then onto Divide or even Talus Lake. We got caught in the snow on the second night out but it was still very beautiful.

Read: A Hike to Grizzly Lake in the Tombstone Mountains

A very pretty place for a campsite at Divide Lake
A very pretty place for a campsite at Divide Lake in the Tombstone Mountains, Yukon
Cooking shelters make all the difference in bad weather conditions
Looking out onto beautiful Grizzly Lake in Tombstone Territorial Park

The Skyline Trail, Banff National Park

The actual Skyline Trail is one of my favourite backpacking experiences in Canada. You hike for over 40 kilometres above treeline so views are exceptional. The campsites are average but if you go for an evening walk you get into grand country in minutes. This was the scenery on the second night out.

Read: Hiking the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park

Our campsite at the Tekarra Campground
Our campsite at the Tekarra Campground on the Skyline trail in Jasper National Park

Sierra Nevada del Cocuy in Colombia

This mountain range is close to the Venezuela border. It’s small and compact and absolutely stunning. In fact when the Lonely Planet published its first guide book on Colombia in 1988,  it called the El Cocuy mountain range, identified by Christophe Didinsky, as being the most beautiful in all of the South American Andes.

Read: The Fabulous 6 Day Sierra Nevada del Cocuy Trek

Our campsite on the second night out in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy Range
Our campsite on the second night out in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy Range
Camping beneath a large rock overhang among strange vegetation in Colombia
Camping beneath a large rock overhang among strange vegetation in Colombia
This gives a little context as to where we camped
This photo gives a little context as to where we camped
The view outside our tent on the last night out
The view outside our tent on the last night out

The Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan

The beauty of a northern Canadian canoeing trip is that you’re in true wilderness and you rarely if ever need to share campsites with anyone. On a four day paddle on the Churchill River we had lovely spots expect for the last night. It was closer to Missinipe, the nearest town, and had obviously been used a lot. 

Read: A Canoe Trip on the Churchill River in Saskatchewan

Tenting beside the Churchill River in Saskatchewan
Tenting beside the Churchill River in Saskatchewan

Pitched a tent on the Juan de Fuca Trail, Vancouver Island, BC

The Juan de Fuca Trail is similar to the famous West Coast Trail but a little easier and shorter. They both follow the western coast of Vancouver Island – and that means that most nights – if you plan it right – you end up on a beautiful west coast beach. It was a pretty sweet view out my tent with the Pacific Ocean practically lapping on my doorstep.

Read: A Four Day Hiking Trip on the Juan de Fuca Trail 

We pitched a tent with a view of the Pacific Ocean
View from our tent on the Juan de Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island

Camping on the Thelon River, NWT and the most remote place I’ve pitched a tent

The Thelon River is a remote fly-in river far removed from civilization. Campsites over the course of about 10 days were always gorgeous and pristine. By the time we finished the trip we had gone from patches of snow without a bug in sight to flowers blooming and loads of bugs when the wind stopped blowing. It’s a remarkable adventure and one where you’re likely to see muskoxen, caribou, bears and wolves.

Read: A Canoe Trip on the Remote Thelon River, NWT 

We pitched a tent along the Thelon River, Northwest Territories
Camping along the Thelon River, Northwest Territories

Kayaking in Gwaii Haanas National Park Preserve, BC

Head up to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlottes) for a summer kayaking trip. Enjoy nights on remote island beaches and occasionally on mossy beds in the rainforest. At the campsite pictured below near Burnaby Narrows we had a whale show up over the dinner hour. It’s hard to beat that!

Read: Trip Highlights of Kayaking Gwaii Haanas in BC 

We pitched a tent with a view down towards Burnaby Narrows
We pitched a tent with a view down towards Burnaby Narrows – and you could literally see a whale from your bed

Pitched a tent on the Georgian Bay

I love the myriad of islands in the Georgian Bay that make for perfect campsites. Throw in the beautiful white pine trees, cool looking cooked up rocks, glorious sunsets and lovely water for swimming and you have the makings of a great weekend to week-long holiday.

Read: Fabulous Camping on Georgian Bay near Killarney Park

When the lights go down
When the lights go down on the Georgian Bay

Canoeing the Cameron River to Hidden Lake Territorial Park, NWT

Canoeing in the Northwest Territories is usually an expensive affair as you have to fly into rivers or lakes. But the Cameron River is easily accessed from Yellowknife, as is Hidden Lake Territorial Park. It can be done on its own over a weekend canoe trip or part of a longer one like the one we did starting at the Cameron River Ramparts. Again, lots of Georgian Bay like islands, swimmable water and plenty of lake to explore.

Read: A Canoe Trip to Hidden Lake Territorial Park, NWT 

This is where we pitched a tent  for 24 hours in Hidden Lake Territorial Park
This is where we pitched a tent  for 24 hours in Hidden Lake Territorial Park

Where have you pitched a tent that is in an unforgettable location?

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

25 spectacular places to pitch a tent

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 23 Comments
  1. These are like the awesomest shots of places to camp at! My most favorites are the one in Rangiroa near Tahiti and in Mt. Kilimanjaro where the tents kinda looked like stones covered in snow! and the view is just awesome! it must be like heaven when you’re actually there! 😀

    1. @Sofia I have been lucky to have visited some wild places. A sunrise on Kilimanjaro – even when it’s cold is a treat to see. I always appreciate a hot shower and clean hair after tenting experiences.

  2. Baffin Island looks incredible! We canoed Myrtle Lake many, many years ago. We absolutely loved it and have endless photos (pre-digital days) of Loons on the lake. It was quiet back then, hardly any other people about in mid-summer. We camped at several sites, my favourite was the tiny island with the great beach, it was all ours for a few days.

  3. Oh, Baffin Island is spectacular. I’d never have thought about visiting it before seeing your pictures, but I absolutely must now.

    1. @Mette I am always a little shocked when I see some of the camping spots in Europe but I bet if you got into the mountains you’d see similar scenes. I have heard that some of the soft camping spots in France have croissant delivery in the mornings.

  4. Oh Leigh, I hope this becomes a chapter or a book in itself! What some amazing places you’ve camped. I love the image looking out of the tent onto the horses and the one where you are dwarfed by mountains. These pics really made me wonder why we need to buy our own real estate!

    1. @Johanna Thanks for your great comment. I have definitely camped in some great spots and kick myself now for not having even more photos of areas where I’ve been that are on the wild side. That horses photo was the last night out camping in Colombia – and they lent a certain atmosphere to the place. I think I felt like I was back in civilization once I saw them.

  5. These were all amazing!! Hey, 25 years ago I would have happily pitched a tent in any of these place. Today…I’m all about a pitching a hotel 🙂 I know – boo, hiss on Mike. I never knew you were in Tahiti! That one of course caught me eye the most! It’s fun to live vicariously though you and John, Leigh 🙂

    1. @Mike We kayaked in Tahiti several years ago – and really one of the worst vacations of my life despite the idyllic look of the place. It was so bloody hot by 9AM that you had to start the day swimming before kayaking, look for shade, avoid getting in the tent as it felt like a sauna.My legs got so badly burned even with or because of zinc oxide that they got very swollen and painful. The mountains of Tahiti are lovely and so much cooler up. And we did have dinner a couple of times with some National Geographic people which was interesting. And we swam with sharks. Really it was the heat that killed it for me.

  6. I loved this photo essay! I have pitched a tent in many of the North American spots you have included….but many years ago now. At nearly 70 I do not sleep on the ground anymore but I still seek out spots like this whenever possible for walks or day visits. I would choose Milawi of the over seas spots pictured. These photo essays are wonderful for keeping up. Thanks!

  7. Brilliant photos! Have you been camping in Australia? I do a lot of camping in Scotland, and have camped once abroad, in Nepal. I’m away to Australia for 3 weeks to visit family in Perth and would LOVE to go camping over there, but not sure how easy/feasible it is and what the laws are etc? Never been to Oz before. We have a “freedom to roam” law in Scotland, so can pitch a tent almost anywhere here!

    1. @Iona I have done months of camping in Australia years ago. I’m not sure what the recent laws are but would have to think there’s plenty of camping with the wide open spaces Australia has. I’m a big fan of tweeting a tourism board in the area to get their input.

  8. They all look pretty awesome, but I’d choose Murtle Lake or either NWT or Yukon Territories for my next adventure!

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