Lightening Lake – 8 Reasons Why This Is One Of BC’s Top Campgrounds


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. It is by far the most popular campground, making it difficult to get into.  We also stayed at Coldspring Campground the same trip and you can find that review by clicking here.

Skip directly to advise about this campground.

Canyon Trail Sign
Allison Pass Sign

There are two loops in this campground.  I would recommend the large loop if you have a choice. 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.

Hiking Trail information can be found on this link and it’s worth reading.


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.

Boat Rental information can be found in this link.


Here is my advise for this campground:

Recommended Sites:

  • Large Loop SitesColdspringsite1
    • 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

Campground Highlights:

  • Large, clean shower houseIMG_2485
  • 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.

Campground Lowlights:

  • 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:

DYI – How To Build An RV Outdoor Shower Stall

One year of blogging and this article has been by far my most viewed post.  As I celebrate the end of the year I thought it would be worth reposting my top blogs.  Thanks for all your support.

We have only had our travel trailer for one camping season but have quickly realized that gray water is one of the biggest challenges, especially when dry camping. We didn’t  experience this problem in our tent trailer because we didn’t have hot water nor a holding tank. Now that we have both, I like the idea of showering at my site but with 2 teenagers and no hookups  the gray water will fill up quickly. The solution: an outdoor shower stall at the back of the trailer. The problem: finding a way to make it private.  I headed out to research this and here are my findings. Continue reading

Why it’s Hard to Find a Campsite

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How often do you have trouble booking a campsite?   Ever wonder why?  Our rough research shows that there are indeed far more campers than there used to be, and the number of camp sites hasn’t grown to meet the demand.

Some interesting numbers

1) There are probably 3 times more campers than when I was a child

To start with, there are twice as many British Columbians now than back then.

RV table

2011 RVDA Study

Further, camping is relatively more popular than it used to be. In 2011 over 18% of British Columbian households owned an RV.  As recently as 2005, the Canadian average was just 12% of vehicle-owning households. Continue reading

My Unexpected Benefits of Blogging

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Our first tent trailer bought in 2002

Campthatsite has been up and running for almost 3 months now. About 2 months longer than most of my friends and family thought it would last. I talked about doing a blog for over a year before I actually started it up. Each trip, while making our campground notes, I would ramble on about how it would be great to write a camping blog. Finally, in December 2014, I took the leap. I think what kick started me was a friend from work had a popular parenting blog, “Discovering Parenthood” and after watching her for a few months I felt inspired. She was also there to provide support and answer questions while I got started.  Thanks Tamara! Now after 3 months of blogging I have leared a lot, both about blogging and the unexpected benefits.

What I Expected
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When I started out I thought it would be great to share my notes and experiences with other campers. I was hoping other campers would email me or comment about site number they like or campgrounds they have been to. That has happened a bit but not as much as I had thought. In BC it is very difficult to get a good campground during the peak summer season and my thought was to help others get the perfect site on their first trip. I also hoped that if my blog became popular I might have an easier time booking a site of my own. The campground would benefit from a review and I would benefit by being able to book a site. At this time I am still working on building my blog so I have not tried to use it as a booking advantage but maybe some day.

What I Have Learned

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It’s a small world after all! I would say the coolest thing about doing this blog is seeing how many countries you can reach without ever leaving your front door. To date this blog has reached readers in over 40 counties and all the continents. Starting a blog has also forced me to learn, link and navigate many of the social media tools out there. I have set up a Twitter account, Facebook page, email address, Instagram account, WordPress blog and then linked them all together. This part has been a steep but fun learning curve. I started with 1 lonely Twitter follower, thanks to my daughter, and have watched it grow to over 600. My kids have had many good laughs as they have watched me log on and off several times each day, checking as my followers and views grew. It has been interesting to learn what people like to read, who opts to follow me and what they respond to. I have been surprised how the “personal blogs” have been some of the most popular posts I have done, followed by cool gadgets and tips.

The Unexpected Benefits

Blairs Iphone 258Both my husband and I have loved reliving our 12+ years of camping trips. This blog has given all our memories a permanent scrapbook to share with our family and friends. We have laughed at the photos and memories that were filed away in albums collecting dust or stored in computer files rarely being looked at. The kids have liked hearing camping stories from years they could not remembered and laughing at the crazy thing we have done together as we learned how to become “campers”. It has also renewed my interest in camping, that along with the new 20 foot trailer we bought.112_1241
I have also been surprised by the sheer number of fellow bloggers out there. It has been great getting to know other campers. I have loved reading and learning about their experiences as well as communicating with people from so many different places and walks of life. Blogging is a world I never knew existed and have enjoyed learning about. I will keep posting as long as I am camping and I hope to hear from fellow campers as I continue this journey.

Fort Camping, Brae Island Regional Park – Fort Langley, BC

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It is not often that we get 14 degree C days in February but this year it has seemed like the norm. For that reason my husband, son and I decided to head out to Fort Langley for a sunny walk, a patio lunch and to check out Fort Camping on Brae Island Regional Park,  which is right in Fort Langley. We know several people who have camped here but we have never been to the campground ourselves. Keep in mind we only did walked through but I wrote down some notes, spoke to a very friendly employee and took some photos of the grounds. I thought I would provide a short review until we can get a weekend visit in. Continue reading

Be Bear Aware. Cute yes! Safe, that’s up to you!


During our trip to Yellowstone National Park we became familiar with what “bear aware” means. Now, you would think that being from British Columbia, we would be very bear aware, but in truth, really we were not.  At check in we were given very strict instructions of what to do to make our site “bear aware”. The list included thing like, dispose of any berry flavored lip balm or cosmetics, make sure all food items were stored in a hard sided vehicle and leave nothing out in your site. imageOur first problem, we were camping in a tent trailer and the only thing separating our food from the great outdoors was a thin piece of canvas, but we did our best. We thought we were following these rules until one day we returned to our site, after a day exploring, to find a note from the park ranger. We had left the empty dog water dish on the ground and it was note reminding us of the danger to leaving these items out. A danger not only to us but to the bears. Lesson learned and we were very careful after that. Here is a summary of the “Bear Aware” tips offered by the Canadian and US Park Boards.

What is “bear aware”

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear: Don’t contributor to food-conditioning of wild animals.image

  • Bears that scavenge food begin to associate food with humans, and become “food-conditioned.” They become desensitized to humans and no longer see us as a threat. The problem occurs when they enter parks and campgrounds looking for an easy meal.
  • There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear resulting in the animals being destroyed because they are a threat to humans. This problem is 100% avoidable and it is up to us, as campers, to do our part.

Avoiding Dangerous Encounters with Bears: 

  • Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife.image
  • Reduce or eliminate odours that attract bears. At the campground, store food in air-tight containers in your RV or car trunk.
  • Bear caches must be used if they are available at the park. (see photo)
  • Pack out all your garbage. Store garbage with your food, out of reach of bears and at a safe distance from your sleeping area.
  • Dispose of all garbage as per park/campground instructions. At no time should any garbage be burned, buried or put in pit toilets.
  • Cook and eat well away from your tent. (see photo)image
  • Clean up as soon as you are done eating. Never leave cooking utensils, coolers, grease or dish water lying around.
  • Dispose of dish water by straining it and then throwing it into a gray water pit or pit toilet. Solids should be packed out with the garbage.
  • The odours of cosmetics, toothpaste and insect repellent can attract bears. These should be stored out of reach with your food and garbage, never in your tent. The best option is to avoid brining these items with you.
  • Obey all closures and warnings..

When Fishing: Fish have a strong odour and are a key food source for bears. You do the math!


  • Do not store your catch or bait in your tent. Store it following the same bear aware guidelines as above.
  • Giving bears plenty of room. If you see a bear, leave, it is their home and you are the uninvited guest.
  • If approached by a bear, reel in, and leave the area. Cut your line if playing a fish.
  • Clean the fish at the fishing spot or stream, not at your campsite. Dispose of the fish guts in fast moving water or in a bear safe garbage can.
  • Do not handle any fish bait or guts at your picnic tables. Wash your hands afterwards, do not wipe on clothing or camping rags

While staying in Bear CountryBear1

  • Keep children and pets in your sight.
  • Sleep in some kind of shelter, a tent or RV, not under the stars.
  • Obey and follow all park signs.
  • Hike, fish and canoe as a group. Do not let children or pets run ahead on trails.
  • Keep pets leashed or if possible at home. Free-running pets can anger a bear and provoke an attack.
  • If you see a bear or fresh evidence of a bear, leave the area, and report it to park staff as soon as possible.

Bear Facts

  • Bears are as fast as racehorses, on the flats, uphill or downhillimage
  • Bears are great at swimming.
  • Bears have good eyesight, good hearing, and an acute sense of smell.
  • All black bears and young grizzlies are agile tree climbers; mature grizzlies are poor climbers, but they have a reach up to 4 meters.

How to Identify a Bear: Identifying bears is important if you are ever approached by one.


Black Bear

Black Bear
Colour: Varies. Black, brown, cinnamon or blond, often with a white patch on the chest or at the throat.

Height: Approximately 90 cm at the shoulder.

Weight: 57 kg to more than 270 kg. Females are usually smaller than males.

Characteristics: Straight face profile; short, curved claws; barely noticeable shoulder hump

Habitat: Prefers forested areas with low-growing plants and berry-producing shrubs (e.g. small forest openings, stream or lake edges, open forest).


Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis Ord)

Colour: Varies. Black (rare), brown or blond. Fur often white-tipped or “grizzled”.Light-coloured patches may occur around neck, shoulders and on rear flanks.

Height: Slightly above one metre at shoulder; 1.8 to 2.0 metres when erect.

Weight: 200 kg to more than 450 kg. Females are usually smaller than males.

Characteristics: Dished or concave face long; curved claws; prominent shoulder hump

Habitat: Semi-open spaces preferred. High country in late summer and early fall; valley bottoms late fall and spring.

If the Bear Approaches

  • If the bear is standing up, it is usually trying to identify you. Talk softly so it knows what you are. If it is snapping its jaws, lowering its head, flattening its ears, growling or making ‘woofing’ signs, it is displaying aggression.
  • Do not run unless you are very close to a secure place. Move away, keeping it in view. Avoid direct eye contact.
  • Dropping your pack or an object may distract it to give you more time. If it is a grizzly, consider climbing a tree.

What to do if a Bear Attacks

  • What to do will depend on the kind of bear and if it is on the offensive or defensive. The best bet is usually to do nothing to upset the bear.  It is also important to remember to respect the distance a bears needs to not feel threatened. Often people want to get a great photo and put themselves and the bear at risk. Be smart and buy a postcard.

Every encounter is unique and the following are offered as guidelines only to deal with an unpredictable animal and potentially complex situations.

  • Grizzly Attacks From Surprise (defensive)
    Do nothing to threaten or further arouse the bear.
    Play dead. Assume the ‘cannonball position’ with hands clasped behind neck and face buried in knees.
    Do not move until the bear leaves the area. Such attacks seldom last beyond a few minutes.
  • Black Bear Attacks From Surprise (defensive)
    Playing dead is not appropriate. Try to retreat from the attack.
  • Grizzly or Black Bear Attacks(Offensively, including stalking you or when you are sleeping)
    Do not play dead. Try to escape to a secure place (car or building) or climb a tree unless it is a black bear. If you have no other option, try to intimidate the bear with deterrents or weapons such as tree branches or rocks.

Bear2Remember, this is their home and we are the visitors. We must follow the guidelines set out by park staff in order to make our visit safe for the wildlife. The greatest part of camping is getting away to the great out doors, spending time in the crisp, clean air and enjoying all the forests have to offer. This includes bears and although many people think it would be exciting to see one, in truth, we are only doing our job as visitors if we take all the precautions necessary to not encounter a bear. Not sighting a bear often means you have done your job as a visitor and the wildlife thank you.

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The Rural Camper

Recently I have been asked what kind of camping we do? I am never sure how to answer. So I set out to find a definition that fits.

Primitive Camping- Definition: simply parking the truck, strappig on your pack, and HIKING IN a couple of miles or more to the campsite without running water or electricity. There is no way that is us!
Wilderness Camping- Definition: campsites are not designated, and no facilities have been provided. No tables, no constructed fire pits, no latrines. Nope, not even close!
Glamping – Definition: a luxury form of camping which includes high end equipment, high class facilities, and 5 star food and drink. Okay we are not that bad but it’s sounds nice.
Urban Camping – Definition: Setting up camp in an urban location, be it a rooftop, a derelict building, a doorway or other urban space, use our existing urban environment as a location within which to sleep. No I am happy to say that does not fit either but it’s sad that we have found a term for it rather than a solution.

There is really no term that fits our kind if camping. The kind where families head out to reconnect without having to learn a new skill. Where we can play extreme bocci in the trees while enjoying a cold beverage from the fridge and where we can head to the beach after blowing up all the new float toys to enjoy an afternoon in the sun. None of the terms I found define us, so I am creating my own category, Rural Camping.

Definition of CAMP
a place usually away from urban areas where tents or simple buildings (as in cabins) are erected for shelter or for temporary residence (as for laborers, prisoners, or vacationers)

Definition of RURAL
relating to, or characteristic of the country, country life, or country people; rustic:
rural tranquillity

This seems to fit, we like to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and head for smaller towns and communities with lakeside campgrounds nearby. Close enough to get cell service but far enough to feel part of nature. Still having basic amenities like water, electricity and sewer but giving up cable, Internet and street lights. One that’s an easy drive to the grocery store but still far enough to make you ask if you can live without it.
Yes we are Rural Campers, looking to get away with our families to play games, sit by campfires and take walks but without having to learn to cook on an open campfire, fit all our belongings into a backpack or pee over a log. When you read my reviews know that they are written by a Rural Camper looking for Rural Camper Amenities. There are a lot of us out there, stop on by for a beer next time you run into us camping.

Shuswap Lake Provincial Park – Scotch Creek , BC

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Growing up in Kamloops, I have been going to Shuswap Lake Provincial Park for years and it has been interesting to see how the area around it has changed. Shuswap Lake Campground is a very large park with 274 sites located on the beautiful Shuswap Lake. The park features paved roads, a playground, interpretive programs, hiking trails, bike trails, a boat launch, and a lake for swimming with a long sandy/pebble beach. The park also includes Copper Island which is only accessible by boat but is a fun day trip and provides activities like hiking and cliff diving. Although the park is large, it is very popular, so you will need to book your stay 3 months in advance in order to get a site. Continue reading