We camped at Lightning Lake Campground a couple years back on our anniversary but just realized I did not do a complete review. Lightning Lake Campground is one of 5 campgrounds located within E.C. Manning Park and it is by far the most popular making it difficult to get into. We also stayed at Coldspring Campground the same trip and you can find it’s review here.
There are two loops in this campground. Try to get into the large loop. We camped here in early September and stayed in site 13. It was a very large level site that had limited trees but because the sites are so spread apart it still felt very private. There are 92 sites in the large loop and they are all generally good. The park is located high in the mountains so the days were warm but the evenings were very chilly. Camping in this park is a hiker’s paradise with endless trails for every level. The park does an amazing job of providing literature on all, including: the trail name, starting point, level, distance, elevation, estimated time, special features and a short trail description. We did the Canyon Nature Trail and part of the Lightning Lakes Chain. Both were very scenic and easy hikes that almost anyone can handle. There are so many trails it is difficult to decide which one to do. If you’re lucky, you will see some wildlife along the way.
After completing your hike you can then enjoy some time at the lake. The campground is located next to stunning Lightning Lake, which is perfect for kayaking, canoeing and, if the weather is warm enough, swimming. They offer boat rentals at the lake for those who want to give it a try. Some trails require a short portage. The park also has several horse and bike trails. If you like the outdoors this is the campground for you.
Here is my advise for this campground:
- Large Loop Sites
- Let me start by saying this is a great park and I would be happy to have almost any site. Even the poor sites are not that bad.
- Lake front sites are the top pick with no one behind you and lots of privacy
- Site 38 back onto the lake and gets lots of sun.
- There are not many double sites but, if you can get one, site 12/13 is huge and very private.
- Site 49 is very large with lots of privacy. Great if you have a big rig.
- Site 51 is also very large but does back onto the group site.
- Sites 15 & 16 back onto the amphitheater with the playground right in front. If you have kids this might be great.
- Site 37 is very open to the road and picnic area.
- Small Loop Sites
- Double site 99/100 is very large and flat with forest behind.
- Double site 136/137 looks poor on paper but is actually a good site. It is set back from the road and has lots of privacy
- Double site 134/135 lacks privacy and is open to the road.
- Avoid site 112, the picnic area is exposed to the camp road.
- Avoid sites along the back road due to traffic noise and lack of privacy
- Large, clean shower house
- Great kids park, playground, amphitheater, grassy areas.
- Easy access to lake with great picnic area
- Endless trails and hikes that are clearly marked.
- Large and private sites with wide access roads for RV parking.
- Boat rentals nearby
- Horse trails
- Sani dump nearby
- Manning Park resort store and restaurant close
- Pet friendly area.
- Due to high altitude this park gets very cold at night
- No hook ups
- No cellphone reception but you can access Wifi at the resort if needed.
- Very difficult to get a reservation and there is no First Come First Serve sites
Things to do:
- Endless hiking, this is the main attraction for this park
- Biking trails
- Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding. (boat rentals at lake)