Interested in Canadian Rockies?
We'll send you updates with the latest deals, reviews and articles for Canadian Rockies each week.
Topics include Transportation, Dining Scene, Canada: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Parks Canada operates all campgrounds in the mountain national parks (i.e. Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes, Mt Revelstoke, and Glacier national parks). Some campsites in some national parks campgrounds can be reserved online through Parks Canada's website, https://reservation.pc.gc.ca (available in French and English).
There are a limited number of full hookup campsites (with power, water, & sewer) in Banff and Jasper. If you need one, it is best to reserve a fully serviced site. If you show up without a reservation, be prepared to spend your first night without hookups, then line up at the campground kiosk in the morning in order to have a chance at full hookup sites that other campers are leaving. Depending on your luck and timing, this may be quick and easy, or you may have to line up for a couple of mornings before you get a site.
Summer holiday long weekends (July 1 weekend, first Monday in August, first Monday in September) are extremely popular times to visit the national parks. Expect every unreservable campsite to be full starting on the preceding Thursday. (All other accommodations are also full on the long weekends - hotels, B&Bs, hostels, etc.) You may be diverted to an unlovely "overflow campground" (usually an unpaved parking lot with pit toilet facilites) if you show up once the regular campgrounds are full. So make sure to have a reservation in place well in advance, or arrange your itinerary so that you aren't camping in the national parks or you start your stay in the parks on or before the preceding Thursday.
Fire bans may be in effect if the fire risk is high. During a fire ban, no campfires are allowed. You may be fined for having a campfire. In light of the massive Slave Lake fire of May 2011, which required 7,000 people to be evacuated and destroyed nearly half the town, authorities and local residents will likely take fire bans even more seriously than they have in the past. Propane barbecues are almost always affected by fire bans, but charcoal barbecues usually aren't allowed. See details of current fire bans in Alberta at www.albertafirebans.ca Parks Canada may also impose their own fire bans, which must be respected.
A bare campsite policy is used in many of the national parks campgrounds, whether they are walk-in or road-accessible. This may be enforced with written warnings, eviction from your campsite without refund, and other measures. But really, it's a common-sense policy which all campers should follow in order to keep both dangerous wildlife (like bears and coyotes) and problem wildlife away from your campsite. Bare campsite program details are available in English, French, and German,
List of Jasper National Park campgrounds, with amenities
The main RV campgrounds in Jasper National Park are Whistlers and Wapiti. They are both quite large; Whistlers has the only full hookup (power, water, sewer) campsites in Jasper NP. There are electricity-only sites in Whistlers, Wapiti and Wabasso campgrounds.
If you wish to have a campfire, you must purchase a permit at the campground kiosk or self-registration booth.
Quiet hours at all campgrounds in Jasper National Park are from 11 pm to 7 am daily. During quiet hours, you may not have a campfire or drink alcoholic beverages, in order to ensure a quiet experience for all visitors. Campers found violating these rules can have their alcohol seized; be evicted from their campsite and not allowed into any other Parks Canada campground for 48 hours with no refund; and may be charged.
Alcohol is not allowed in Jasper National Park front country campgrounds (i.e. any campground accessible by road) on the summer long weekends. The summer long weekends are Victoria Day (late May), Canada Day (July 1), Heritage Day (first Monday in August), and Labour Day (first Monday in September).
List of Banff National Park campgrounds, with details
Lake Louise - The Lake Louise campground is located near the village of Lake Louise, not the lake. The RV section of the campground has electrical hookups. It is also right next to a railway line, and large trains rumble through 24/7/365; make sure to have earplugs to ensure a good night's sleep. Some campers also report that their sleep was disturbed by noise from the nearby Trans-Canada Hwy. The large tent campground is a little further from the rail line, and is surrounded by a tall electric fence to protect tenters from bears. The fence is marked with yellow tape for safety reasons, which some people find unappealing.
Banff - Although the Tunnel Mountain campground has an ominous name, it is very large and fairly quiet. The fully serviced section, with hookups for water, electricity, and sewer, is Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court. There are two other sections to this huge campground, Tunnel Mountain Village I (no hookups) and Tunnel Mountain Village II (electrical hookups). Tunnel Mountain is right on the edge of the Banff townsite, so you can walk, cycle, or take the Banff ROAM bus to get around the town.
There are also two campgrounds near Two Jack Lake, about 15 minutes away from the Banff townsite on the Lake Minnewanka road. Neither campground has hookups. Two Jack Lakeside takes reservations, but Two Jack Main is not reservable. The Two Jack Main campground does not have showers; the smaller Two Jack Lakeside campground does, but Two Jack Main campers are not allowed to use them.
Alcohol is not allowed in Banff National Park front country campgrounds (i.e. any campground accessible by road) on the summer long weekends. The summer long weekends are Victoria Day (late May), Canada Day (July 1), Heritage Day (first Monday in August), and Labour Day (first Monday in September).
A brief explanation of the amenities available at campgrounds and campsites, for people who are new to campgrounds.
Power – Electricity is supplied at campsite. You usually will get one or two power outlets to plug into. Note that not all power outlets can support every use. If you plan to use an air conditioner or microwave oven in your RV, you could encounter problems if the power hookup doesn't have sufficient amperage. Many campgrounds will tell whethere they have 15 Amp, 30 Amp, etc. hookups. If a campground has 30 amp hookups, it could be that only some of their sites have 30 amps, while others are only good for 15 amps. Make sure to ask if you're uncertain, otherwise you could pop a circuit breaker and cause other campers to lose power.
Water – Faucet is at campsite so you can use water from campsite rather than from RV water tanks. White plastic hoses (not ordinary garden hoses) are used to hook up drinking water to your RV.
Sewer – Campsite hooks up directly to campground sewage system, so that you don’t have to take your RV to a separate sani-dump location to dump your sewage when your RV’s wastewater tanks are full. Very convenient when your RV stays in one campsite for several days; less important if you're driving your RV in and out of a campground daily anyway.
Unserviced –This campsite is a space to park your RV or pitch your tent. Usually fairly level, and usually with a picnic table.
Full hookups - Some or all campsites have power, water, and sewer (PWS) hookups.
Primitive - The campground's only amenities are pit toiletes (outhouses).
Showers - A shower building is on site. Since most people like to shower in the morning, you may find that the campground showers run out of hot water some time in the morning if the campground is busy. You may find it is better to shower in the afternoon or evening, to avoid lineups and to have hot water. The shower building usually also has flush toilets and sinks.
Sani-dump - Also called sewage dump. A site where you can dump your RV's wastewater tanks into a large septic tank. Water is usually also provided, although it is not always suitable for drinking (potable). Non-potable water should be indicated on a sign near the faucet. Some gas stations have sani-dumps, which are available to the public for a small charge, or free with a tank of gas. Some campgrounds in remote locations will not allow RVers who are not camping with them to use their sani-dump, or will charge as much as $40 for the use of their sani-dump, because their sewage must be hauled out by truck.