Canoe camping in the Rocky Mountain tropics

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  If you have the desire to get away from it all with your family, but are not ready for backpacking, there’s something you can still do.  Canoe camping!  With fairly little effort, you can get back into the depths of nature, and to the far end of the lake.

Be smart about it though.  You’re traveling on a body of water with your family and gear – make sure the wind and weather permit you to go (and come back).

We try to canoe camp at least once a year.  It seems to get tougher every year to rip away from life, but that’s what also seems to make it more worth it.  This year turned out to be pretty exceptional.  We headed over to Cliff and Wade lakes in SW Montana and planned to paddle in a couple miles to this site we found on our GPS map.  About halfway there, however, we noticed a squall forming in the sky.  If you’ve canoe camped before, you know the importance of avoiding getting stuck in a storm on the water.  So, we quickly re-routed and opted to camp at a slightly closer location.  Upon landing on shore, we were greeted by friendly ospreys that were diving in the shallow waters for their dinner.  The camp spot turned out to be really awesome, and we set up our tent in under five minutes.  We had about thirty seconds of rest before the rain came and we retreated to the tent.  Five minutes later, all was clear and we got ready for an evening of fishing on the water.  We caught a lot of fish, much to our surprise!  The water is extremely clear which makes for extremely skittish fish.  The kids took turns reeling in our catches and the rest of the time focused on attempting to catch a fish on the rods they made at camp.  We fished until dusk, enjoying playing on the glassy turquoise water and munching on luxury marshmallows we found at REI.

For bedtime, we finished up the fourth installment of The Little House on the Prairie series, sang songs, and said goodnight.  Little Aria decided she would out-sleep everyone and stayed mummified in her sleeping bag for a solid 12 hours.  That girl loves to sleep outside!

Cliff and Wade lakes are close to Yellowstone National Park, so we explored the park the next day after we finished fishing and swimming in the turquoise lakes.