Banff National Park Camping Tips
Camping in Banff is pretty straightforward, but since the park gets really crowded in the summer, it can be a little hard to navigate, especially if youre planning a last-minute trip. Here are a few things you should know before heading to Banff:
Theres lots of wildlife all around the park. Bears, mountain goats, elk, wolves There are these species and more all over Banff, so its important to know what to do in the event of a sighting.
Usually, the park rangers at each campsite will be able to tell you what kinds of animals are in the area, but its good to plan ahead.
Always bring bear spray, avoid hiking alone, do not keep food inside or around your tent, and heed any notices from park rangers.
Be sure to reserve your campsites in advance. Banff is one of the most popular tourist destinations in North America, so its really important to reserve your campsites as far in advance as possible.
Some of the more popular campsites, like Two Jack Lakeside, get completely booked months in advance! You can reserve campsites on the Parks Canada reservations page.
Frontcountry camping is well-equipped with all of the amenities you may need. The frontcountry campsites, which well go over in the next section, are usually equipped with bear boxes, bathrooms, electrical hookups, and even showers. Isnt that luxurious?
When you book any of the campgrounds in Banff, youll pay a small camping fee, which gives you access to your reserved campsite and the on-site amenities.
Making A Reservation On The Parks Canada Website
|Reservations may be stressful at the time, but worth it come summer!
Lake Louise Campground Trailer
Open year-round â Reservations Required for stays from June to September
The Lake Louise Trailer Campground is a haven for those with large RVs that the quaint, smaller sites just donât have the faculties for. With plenty of full-serviced, pull-through sites for big motorhomes and trailers, this site is ideal for those carrying more than just their pack on their back, and one of the most popular spots for camping in Banff National Park. Note that all soft-sided units must use the Lake Louise Tent campground.
Situated right on the Bow River, a scenic trail follows the rushing water for the length of the campground, offering a peaceful walk. And, with Lake Louise just a 3-minute drive , thereâs a lot to do nearby â like Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Lake Louise!
- Amenities:Washroom and shower facilities, potable water, firepits, electricity, cooking shelter, wheelchair accessible, sani-dump.
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Other Tips For Getting The Site You Want
- You will want to book campsites the day that the reservation system opens for each park and at 8am sharp if planning on camping on weekends during the summer season. There will be more flexibility if camping mid-week or in the spring/fall months.
- Tag team with friends to get sites you really want Make sure you exchange all booking info. with your friends ahead of time because you can’t hold more than one permit in your name for the same date/campground. If booking for friends, you’ll want their full name and address. You’ll also want to know the size of their trailer or tent along with how many people they will have on their site.
- There are still several first come first serve campgrounds in the national parks if you don’t get a site.
- Consider private campgrounds if you can’t get into a national park campground or choose provincial park campgrounds just outside the national park.For example, in Waterton, you can camp at nearby Beauvais Lake Provincial Park. For Banff, we like camping outside the park gates at the Bow Valley Campground. There are many private campgrounds in the Radium Hot Springs area if you can’t get into Redstreak as well.
- Make sure there is a fire pit on the site that you are reserving. Some sites in Banff and Jasper do not allow fires.
AND THIS IS THE WEBSITE WHERE YOU MAKE YOUR RESERVATION: Parks Reservation Service Website
|The Bow Valley Campground is an excellent choice near Banff National Park
Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground
Located in close proximity to the Town of Banff, this unserviced campground offers a moretraditional camping experience, as well as mountain views, firepits for cooking, and access tohiking and biking trails. This campground has options to suit many camping preferences, andhas a limited number of large campsites available.- 618 unserviced sites not all sites have fire pits. Reservations recommended Read Full Description »
Located in close proximity to the Town of Banff, this unserviced campground offers a moretraditional camping experience, as well as mountain views, firepits for cooking, and access tohiking and biking trails. This campground has options to suit many camping preferences, andhas a limited number of large campsites available.- 618 unserviced sites not all sites have fire pits. Reservations recommended- Flush toilets, showers, firepits and firewood, smoke-free areas, sani-dump, theatre andinterpretive programs.
- Address:Banff, AB, T1L 1C3See on map
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Reservation Required For Rv Camping Mid September
my girlfriend and I will be in Banff National Park around mid September for a couple of days with a rented Jeep + Trailer. Im currently very conflicted if we should reserve camp sites for that time or not . I would prefer not to, since we dont have a fixed plan of what we want to do and we would prefer to decide based on weather and other factors. So my questions are:
1. What is the probability that the camp sites in Banff National Park will have a vacant spot, if we arrive some time during the day?
2. What is the worst case if we cant find a spot? Do all of the camp sites have overflow areas?
3. How hard is it to get a spot in a first-come-first-server campsite, i.e. when would we have to arrive?
Thanks in advance 🙂
If you want to have a campsite with hook-ups for the trailer, then you should make a reservation. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it. There are not individual camping overflow areas for each campground – BNP has two overflow camping areas, one on the TransCanada highway #1 about 5 km east of Lake Louise, and another partway up the Icefields Parkway .
Thank you for your reply. Just to make sure I understood you correctly: You would say that if we just show up to any camp site and dont require a hook up the chance is very high we will be able to stay the night.
Edited: 4 years ago
The Best Banff Campgrounds
Most visitors will have the greatest enjoyment with the front country Banff campgrounds. This is not a comprehensive overview of every campsite in Banff, and we suggest you visit Parks Canada for an overview. Its also the best way to reserve a campsite which you should do, unless this is a last-minute trip.
Camping reservations for Banff National Park opened on January 26, 2022 at 8:00 am MST. For reservations, visit reservation.pc.gc.ca
Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds
This is a series of Banff campgrounds located at the base of Tunnel Mountain. If you want convenient access to the town of Banff, nice facilities, and a beautiful campsite. Just because the campground is just outside of town does not detract from its natural beauty or opportunity to spot wildlife.
In fact, the campground is famous as visitors spot elk, bears, and occasionally the Bow Valley wolf pack every year. Nature is quite literally at the doorstep in Banff because of this, it vitally important that campers practice proper wildlife awareness.
There are three separate campgrounds of Tunnel Mountain Campground I, II, and III that are all adjacent to one another. These are the best facilities for camping in Banff, and the Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds are the only campsites that offer electricity hookups. Most importantly, they also have hot showers, which are a pretty sweet deal and not found at all the campgrounds in the park.
Alberta Provincial Park Reservations
Reserve.AlbertaParks.cayear-round service. There is still a 90-day booking policy for regular campsites and backcountry campsites,comfort camping can be booked 180 days in advanceHow it works in a nutshell:
|Wake up to gorgeous views in Alberta Provincial Parks
Group camping areas can also be booked 180 days in advance starting on January 12th! Why the changes? “Alberta Parks reservation site. ** And note that Alberta Parks has also gone to the queue system so you may have to wait to get onto the parks reservation website in the morning.
|Group camping at Twin Lakes, Crimson Lake Provincial Park
Camping In Banff A Little Something For Everyone
Whether youâre looking for some bare-bones camping, higher-end âglampingâ, or youâre renting an RV to trek the Rockies in style, Banff has plenty of campsites to choose from.
For those who like that #campinglifestyle but donât have the gear, both oTENTik and equipped campsites offer almost everything you need on-site. These Banff camping spots have gear rentals, or even pre-pitched canvas tents so you donât have to carry your home on your back like a turtle. Of course, for those who prefer that #turtlelifestyle, choose any of the below and enjoy your stay in Banff!
And consider this a wee warning â the mountains get super busy in summer. Get your planner out and schedule in the dates that Banff camping reservations open so that you donât miss out on securing a spot.
Campsites in Banff
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Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court
Open May to October â Reservations required
A little closer to town and a lot more comfort-focused, the third Tunnel Mountain campground offers more rooms for RVs and even more amenities.
While not as natural as its counterparts, this Tunnel Mountain Village still features plenty of trees to keep campsites private, with easy access to the Hoodoos Trailhead. Once youâre all done checking out the sights , take the 5-km drive into town and enjoy all of the best things to do in Banff!
- Amenities: Washroom and shower facilities, potable water, wheelchair accessible, full RV hookups, sani-dump.
Tunnel Mountain Campground Village 2
Open year-round â Reservations Required
The closest of the Tunnel Mountain Trio to both Banff Townsite and the Tunnel Mountain Reservoir, Tunnel Mountain Village offers all the amenities of the trailer court , along with the above-mentioned oTENTik glamping tents.
Perhaps the least-treed, this Tunnel Mountain campsite still offers a bit of shade and privacy for campers and a short 25-minute walk to downtown.
- Cost per night:$32.30 + $8.80 for a fire pit.
- Amenities: Washroom and shower facilities, potable water, fire pits, wheelchair accessible, electricity, cooking shelter, sani-dump.
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Campervan Rentals/rv Camping In Banff National Park
As Banff is open year-round, you might find that your best bet for Banff camping is to go in a campervan or RV.
The campervans will protect you from cold weather and rain, and youll sleep comfortably in an actual bed. And luckily, most campsites in the Banff area are welcoming towards campervans and RVs.
Just make sure you empty your sanitary waste in the proper Sani Dump areas, and opt for electrical campsites if you need it.
If youre camping in a campervan, you have most of the same options for campsites in Banff available to you, as well as two more options:
How To Book A Canada National Park Stay
You canreserve online or by phone at 1-877-737-3783 or 1-519-826-5391 outside of North America.
According to Parks Canada, due to COVID-19, the visitor experience will be different than it has been in the past. Based on this, visitors are asked to comply with recommendations from provincial public health authorities. This may include wearing a mask in indoor public spaces and adhering to social distancing measures.
Visitor access, services, and even opening dates may vary from park to park depending on regional or provincial circumstances. The Parks Canada website lists parks and historic sites with special instructions related to COVID-19 and your visit.
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Camp In Lake Louise Alberta
The Lake Louise campgrounds lie in a wooded site along the Bow River, 1 km from the Village of Lake Louise and 4 km from Lake Louise itself. Several hiking and biking trails are accessible from these campgrounds.
Because the Lake Louise campground is located within habitat required by wildlife, several initiatives are in place to protect both people and animals. To educate campers, Parks Canada presents interpretive programs at campground theatres throughout the summer.
Tunnel Mt Village Sites
The Tunnel Mt. Village campground consists of three areas: Village I with 618 individual sites, Village II with 188, and Trailer with 321. Some of those campsites aren’t available for reservations. Village II is open all year, while the other two are limited to seasonal occupants during the summer. None of the sites offer shelters, though they all have picnic tables and the Trailer sites offer full hookups for RVs. Flush toilets and showers can be found throughout the area and Village I has fire pits available for a small fee.
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Tips For Camping In Banff
- Be wildlife aware at all times. Please be cognizant of food around your campsite. Make use of the bear-proof boxes in camp or store your food in your car. Do not leave your food unattended at any time. Food conditioning kills wildlife!
- There is no free camping in National Parks. You are required to stay in designated sites or have a permit for every night. Please do not try to stealth camp. Rangers actively patrol and can write tickets for illegal camping or force you to move. There are hefty fines for those that break the rules in the park.
- To grab the first-come-first-serve campsites youll need to arrive early in the morning and hope to catch someone on their way out. Even still there is often a line of cars waiting to grab a spot so youll have to be pretty lucky. If you do get one set up camp for a few days and explore the area.
One Great Place To Set Up Camp In Banff Is The Tunnel Mountain Campground
The Tunnel Mountain campground is in Banff National Park, just outside of Banff townsite.
This is Banffs largest RV camping area, with 320 sites. Staying here, youll get great views of the valley, the Hoodoos and the Banff Springs Golf Course. It is located on Tunnel Mountain, just 2.4 km from the town of Banff. Which means youre in easy walking distance from town. This can be nice if you dont feel like pulling up stakes with the RV and coming in, or could use some time on your feet after some long drives.
The Tunnel Mountain campground has good services itself, including food, laundry and even a waterslide are nearby! It is also the only campground in the national park that has full RV hookups available . So its sort of the RVers mecca for camping. The sites can accommodate large RVs, up to 50-feet long, and are pull-through .
Some of the sites are reservable, while others remain open for visitors on a first-come, first served basis. The campground is open from early May to early October .
Visit Parks Canada Campground Reservation Service or call toll-free to 1.877.737.3783 to reserve your spot at the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court in Banff National Park. Please note that reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance.
You may also want to visit Parks Canada for descriptions of all campsites on national park grounds.
- each site has a picnic table
- disabled accessible
- fee: $38.20
- hot showers
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