At about 5,500 feet above sea level snow still surrounds Little Elbow Campground even in early June. Although spring is very much in the air at this time of year, moisture that falls on the prairies as rain often arrives in this area as snow.
Little Elbow Campground
With approximately 140 campsites (94 in the Little Elbow Campground and 46 in the Little Elbow Equestrian Campground), Little Elbow Campground, located at the end of highway 66 southwest of Bragg Creek, Alberta offers something for everyone. It’s an excellent trailhead for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians wishing to explore the backcountry that surrounds this remarkable area of Kananaskis Country.
Each campsite has its own firepit and picnic table with dry toilets and pump water located throughout the campground. There is firewood for sale either at the campground manager’s campsite or from the truck that makes its rounds regularly
The Provincial Government has added Little Elbow campground to its reservation website. The campground is classified a “reservable self-registration campground”, which means that while you can book online at Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca, you can still show up and self register on a first come first served basis. Alberta Parks does caution however, that making a reservation guarantees your campsite and the availability of the first come first served campsites are subject to change. I’m curious how this will work and would welcome comments below if you’ve used the reservation system or have been disappointed because of this campgrounds inclusion in it.
Although there is no power or cell phone reception, the campground is chock full of campers come the weekend, attesting to the desire to unplug from time to time, and return to a simpler way of life. This particular day, mid-week in early June however, finds the campground virtually deserted, with just a few campers including a group of Europeans in an RV rental.
There are also many backcountry campgrounds in the area. The trails known collectively as Elbow Loop is a 41 km loop that combines the Little Elbow and Big Elbow Trails and passes by three popular campgrounds, Romulus, Tombstone and Big Elbow. Cyclists can complete this trek in about 5 hours while hikers often prefer a three day excursion taking in a different campground each night.
Elbow River Valley
Archaeologists have found evidence in the Elbow River valley suggesting its inhabitants have been hunting and fishing this area for more than 9000 years and now a large part of Calgary, its nearest city, relies heavily on its water to satisfy its needs.
Day users relish in the wide variety of hiking trails suitable for all skill levels. And of course campers come to enjoy being on the precipice of one of Alberta’s unspoiled wildernesses, with ample recreational opportunities at their finger tips.
In June, the Elbow River that meanders alongside the campground has yet to see spring run-off in earnest. During some years the river rages as spring rain showers combined with warm weather to melt the snow-pack so quickly that this normally mild river swells 10 fold to become a fierce but magnificent sight. Other years the river stays relatively calm throughout runoff season of June and July as cooler weather melts the snow-pack at a more measured pace, robbing rafters and kayakers of their opportunity to ride its exhilarating whitewater.
Come July we will return to this area to take in the sea of colour as the flowers that are just now peaking through the surface will be in full bloom.
If you enjoy solitude, clean air and unlimited recreational opportunities at your fingertips, Little Elbow campground should be on your list of campgrounds to visit this summer.