Banff National Park comes alive in the summer. The rush of the Bow River, chirps of the birds, and sounds of critters scurrying through the landscape become the chorus of the summer months. The lakes are a vivid turquoise and wildflowers burst from the ground in a rainbow of colours.
Camping is an amazing way to soak in all the beauty Banff National Park has to offer.
Here’s the Lowdown
Camping means different things to different people, and the options Banff National Park has to offer reflects this.
Frontcountry - These campsites are accessible by car. Most often, you drive right to your site and can set up camp right beside your car.
Backcountry - These campsites that are not accessible by car, which means you’re limited to what can fit on your back as you hike into the campground.
Want to try it for yourself?
You don’t have to leave the Banff townsite to camp. The Tunnel Mountain Village campgrounds boast a sweeping view from the top of Tunnel Mountain. Reservations are available on Parks Canada’s website for May 10 to September 30.
Along the Bow Valley Parkway scenic drive, you’ll find the Johnston Canyon Campground nestled in the trees. This is a great temporary home base to spend a couple days day-hiking and sightseeing. Reservations are available on Parks Canada’s website for May 25 to September 24.
Take a drive up the Icefields Parkway to Waterfowl Lakes Campground. This secluded spot is about an hour north of Lake Louise and is available on a first-come, first-served basis from June 22 to September 3.
Remember: Even though you are in the frontcountry, Banff National Park’s wildlife will travel through. Do not leave food or garbage unattended at your campsite -- this includes leaving your cooler and other food bins in your car.
Try an oTENTik
Looking for a rustic experience, but a tent is not the right fit for you? Try Parks Canada’s oTENTiks: prospector-style, A-frame tents on a raised wooden floor. In Banff National Park, oTENTiks are available at Two Jack Lakeside Campground and Tunnel Mountain Village II Campground.
Venture into the Backcountry
When heading into the backcountry, there are some helpful safety tips to keep in mind. You’re in bear country, so bring bear spray and make your presence heard on the trail by shouting out “hey bear” or singing out loud (as a courtesy, don’t play music from a speaker). Never abandon your food or garbage, and always secure food in bear-safe bins or hangers offered at each backcountry campground.
For a two-day backpacking adventure, head up the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 North) to Glacier Lake. At about 9 km (5.6 miles) to the backcountry site (G19), this is a great option for an overnight stay.
If you’re looking to stay a little longer in the backcountry, book the stunning Egypt Lake. This route is accessible at the Sunshine Village ski area parking lot. Book a spot at campsite E13 for two nights and spend a day exploring the area, or make it a longer trip and hike through to Ball Pass Junction (Re21) on night two, and Twin Lakes (Tw7) for night three.
Booking Your Site
Book your backpacking adventure online. Each reservation costs $11.70 and $9.80 per person per night of camping. Frontcountry camping fees vary depending on location and type of campsite. Learn more about frontcountry camping with Parks Canada.
Don’t let the gear get in the way of your adventure! If you want to camp but don’t have the right stuff, do not worry: Snowtips-Bactrax Ski & Bike Rental offers a wide variety of camping kits. From frontcountry to backcountry, rent everything from a tent to a backpack.