Marten River Campground

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Slave Lake, Canada… - +1 780-849-2111 (summer only)

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Marten River Campground Slave Lake Reviews

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176 reviews
A very fine campsite. Mar 07, 2017
People who know me will know will know that I tend to spend some time in the summer going to Canada to visit my friend Ravenswing aka Lynne and have a road trip in our campervan, or RV as it is called in those parts, a pastime I have to say that I really enjoy.

For the 2016 trip we had vaguely decided to head North from Edmonton albeit we do not really make concrete plans but we had arranged to spend the first few days with Lynne's sister and delightful six year old niece at a campground up by Lesser Slave Lake. This had all been booked and arranged before I even arrived in the country. We generally do "Walmart camping" i.e. parking up in a Walmart carpark overnight as it keeps the costs down but I am not at all averse to spending a night in a proper site and the one the ladies had chosen was Marten River Provincial Park.

As the name implies this is one of the many campgrounds administered by the various Provincial authorities all over Canada. They tend to be less flashy than commercial campgrounds and are often in the most wonderful locations as that is why they choose to make the respective areas Provincial Parks. In the pecking order of recreational facilities they are one down from the National Parks like Jasper and Banff but most of them are stunningly beautiful in their own right. Marten River is certainly no exception as I hope to illustrate here.

After one of our typically late starts and rambling journeys through the lovely countryside of Northern Alberta we arrived at the campground fairly late so I didn't get to see it properly that night although I did note that it appeared to be fairly full which was hardly surprising as it was high season. This was not a problem as we had our pitch reserved and that is certainly recommended during July and August. Pre-booking attracts a charge of $12 and is available online from late February. The reader can get full details on the attached website. We were on one of the 39 unserviced sites which cost $26 per night although should you require power there are 15 / 30 amp sites available at $33 per night.

I awoke fairly early next morning and went outside for a cigarette as I don't smoke around children and it was then that I got my first proper impression of just how attractive a campground this is. Whilst the pitches are reasonably close together there is enough foliage to make each one seem fairly intimate. I also saw the first of the numerous squirrels that inhabit the Park, they are literally everywhere and apparently have no fear of humans as they will come quite close to you. I realise that it is hardly a "big game safari" but I could sit and watch them all day and listen to them as they chatter amongst themselves in the treetops. It was only my first morning out of the city and I was relaxed already.

There also appeared to be plenty of birds and, although I am no ornithologist, they appeared to be mostly corvids with ravens and crows predominant.

A couple of smokes and a few chapters of my book later and I decided that it was time to stretch my legs and have a bit of an exploration. A short distance from our pitch I found the steps I had been told about and which led down to the beach which is one of the main attractions here. It is perhaps half a mile long and not very wide but it is lovely. I went down to the water's edge as the walking was easier on the damp, firmer sand there and I wondered how an inland lake which is obviously not tidal could produce such a phenomenon. I still don't know.

Looking out over the sizeable body of water that is Lesser Slave Lake I pondered on why it was Lesser". It is 62 miles long and over nine wide at the widest point with a total area of 450 square miles which does not seem to be Lesser to me but I subsequently discovered that there is a Slave Lake in the Northern Territories so perhaps the name was already taken. Despite my best efforts I still cannot discover why it is called Slave Lake as I did not think slavery existed this far West in Canada. I do know that there was a history of runaway / escaped slaves going West so perhaps that may be something to do with it. If any reader can assist me I would be most grateful.

Heading towards the Southeastern end of the beach (i.e. the end towards Slave Lake town) I came upon a most remarkable sight and one which was to be repeated often in my travels in the area. There were literally thousands of what I would call seagulls on the beach. I know they cannot be seagulls as Slave Lake is far too far from the sea and again if anyone can assist as to what they were I will be very grateful. I was moving slowly and quietly but on my approach they took to the wing en masse and it really was quite a sight. I did take a couple of images but I was using my little compact and it was thankfully a sunny day so I could not really see what I was capturing although they seem to have turned out alright.

The beach is an absolute paradise for kids and there were certainly plenty of them splashing about and building sandcastles etc. on my various visits to it but I should point out that it is unsupervised so please keep an eye on the little ones near the water. There is also an abundance of driftwood so there are endless play opportunities and I saw various constructions along the shore. Just wandering aimlessly up and down that relatively small strip of beach was an utter delight and yet another reason I love Canada so much.

There is a shower block by the entrance / office area but as we are self-sufficient I cannot comment on it other than to tell the reader that it is closed between 1200 - 1400 for cleaning. There is a dump site and fresh water available in the same area although there are no apparent shopping facilities and Slave Lake is 28km. distant so it pays to stock up before you get out here.

Continuing my morning ramble I went to the Northwest end of the beach and up a track that gives access for the hand-launching of small boats. Fishing is allowed in the lake and they even had the foresight to provide a couple of fish gutting stations should you be lucky with the rod. I am told that, apart from being convenient for campers it also helps to control the waste and so does not attract the bears which frequent the area, not to menton the cougars! If you do not have a boat then wading out and standing chest high in the water to fish seems to be a popular pastime.

At the top of the track was a rather sizeable "amphitheatre" where there are regular entertainments provided in season. As well as those events staged here there is also a good programme of other activities, mostly aimed at children, which explain the flora and fauna of the area.

After a most relaxing and wonderful day beachcombing and relaxing we retired to the campervan for an evening meal, a few drinks and bed.

I so not wish to be indelicate here but obviously for those of us of the camping / campervan fraternity (or indeed sorority) toilets are a very important issue so I will address that here. Firstly, there are plenty of facilities, generally one per two or three pitches but they are of the variety locally known as outhouses. For the uninitiated this is basically a hole in the ground with a lavatory perched on top. There is no flush, nor indeed running water to wash your hands although an alcohol based handwashing gel is provided outside each one. Shall we just say that, apart from considering the needs of other campers, this is not place to take the morning newspaper for a leisurely read as they can become quite malodorous.

The next morning dawned clear again (despite the thunderstorms of the previous afternoon) and we started to pack up to get back on the road. Check-out time is 1400.

Before we went, however, I decided to go for a bit of a walk and went out past the amphitheatre on a path designated at leading to the group campground which is about two km. distant. This morning amble turned out to be another delight as I did not meet another soul and was walking along in my own quiet little reverie with the only sounds being those of Nature. The absolute highlight though was on the return walk when a couple of deer who I had evidently startled despite my quietness bounced (it is the only word I can find to describe the movement) across the path not 50 yards in front of me. It was a complete sylvan idyll if that does not sound too Byronic which it probably does but it is a memory that will live with me for a long time. Naturally, by the time I had got the camera out all I coud see was a couple of white rumps disappearing into the bushes.

As campgrounds go and with me not requiring a swimming pool, waterslides, nightly bingo / karaoke / live band or whatever then Marten River is about as good as it gets. I loved it.

Highly recommended.
Marten River campground, Alberta.
Marten River campground, Alberta.
Marten River campground, Alberta.
Marten River campground, Alberta.
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