Out of all the wonderful places I have camped, Banff National Park in Canada stands out for I will never forget first viewing the indescribable aurora borealis, better known as the Northern Lights, while camping in Banff. Located in a resort town off of the Trans-Canada Highway in beautiful Alberta, Banff National Park offers picturesque views of the Rocky Mountains and lush forests. It’s also home to the glacier-fed Lake Louise, which only makes Banff camping that more splendid and serene. This memorable park has 14 Banff campgrounds totaling 2,462 sites! These Banff campgrounds range from basic with tents and dry toilets to more upscale with RV’s, picnic shelters, large gravel sites, and more all while providing visitors with an opportunity to be part of the Canadian wilderness
Banff Camping is perfect for travelers who want to explore the hot springs, enjoy the arts, or thrive on outdoor sports such as hiking, skiing, ice fishing, and rock climbing.
So what are you waiting for? Take a journey with me to learn some Banff camping tips, explore the best Banff National Park campgrounds, and discover many entertaining things to do in and around this spectacular area.
Information to Know About All Banff Campgrounds – Banff Camping
Before we get started, it’s important to know some key facts that apply to all of the Banff National Park campgrounds. One convenience is that you can call 1-877-RESERVE to reserve a site at any of the Banff campgrounds that are not first-come-first-serve.
Another nugget to keep in mind is that July and August are the busiest parts of the season and, if possible, reservations are advised.
All the campgrounds also have a check-in of 3-8 PM and a checkout 11 AM.
Banff Camping Tips – Banff Camping
Because of the unpredictable Canadian weather, it’s advised that you bring warm clothes, a quality sleeping bag, a sleeping mat, rain gear, extra blankets, and a groundsheet for your tent. And don’t forget to bring your camera so that you can take in the majestic views while Banff camping.
Know that you are allowed to bring Fido to camp with you because pets are permitted, but don’t forget the leash at home because they are mandatory for all pets.
Keep in mind that you also need to obtain a camper’s permit, which is $10 per person or $12 with a reservation.
And if you want to go fishing, great! But don’t forget that you need a Canada park fishing permit that is $10 daily or $35 annually.
If you love roasting marshmallows, and outdoor cooking, fire permits are also $9.00.
Banff Camping –
Banff National Park camping encourages proper etiquette and reminds campers to use their own tubs or basins for washing dishes and laundry. Campers are also expected to dump dirty water down the outdoor sinks or toilets. It’s also required that visitors mind the speed limit, keep an eye on their kiddos, and make an effort to recycle by using the designated bins.
Banff National Park campgrounds are also not the time for a rowdy party as the national park has frequent alcohol bans during daily quiet hours (11 PM- 7 AM) and long weekends..
Lastly, Banff does have grizzly and black bears, and it’s important to know some bear safety tips. Make sure you always store your food properly; this is one reason why food lockers are available at many of the Banff campgrounds. If you can, stay in large groups; bears become fearful when there are more people. Also, pay attention to bear signs such as fresh droppings and prints, and stay on marked trails. If you happen to see a bear, make noise, remain calm, and don’t run. Yes, this is easier said than done.
Two Jack Equipped Campground–Banff National Park Camping
- Open: May June 21 to September 3
- Cost: Campsites starting at $70
- Reservations online here June 21 to Sept or call 1-877-RESERVE (737-3783)
- 32 sites
If you are new to camping or don’t have any camping equipment, you can still have a magnificent Banff camping experience at the Two Jack Equipped Campground. This campground takes the hassle out of loading up your car with a tent, sleeping pads, propane stove, lantern, and even broom and dustpan. Why? Because all of this equipment-plus the camping and fire permits-this campground provides for you. No joke. You can literally hop in your car right now, drive to this Banff campground, and everything you need will be waiting for you. Oh, and let’s not forget that you also get your own tent setup person!
Family Adventure –
This is perfect for the busy family or the traveler who hates to pack. Now since it is not your own equipment, there are a few more rules, but they mostly require common sense: don’t smoke or eat in the tent, keep food in the car or food locker, and keep your guinea pig at home for this one because no pets are allowed in the tents. But this is a small price to pay for the convenience of it all. You can even rent cutlery, pans, and sleeping bags from the local retail store.
Travelers will have to complete a rental agreement form as well. So get in the car and go! No packing necessary.
Johnston Canyon– Banff Camping
- Open: May 24 to September 24
- Cost: Campsites starting at $28 ($9.00 fire permit)
- Reservations May 24 to Sept 23
- 132 sites
The Johnston Canyon Campground is one of the best Banff camping experiences around. The park staff always maintains the grounds while ensuring visitors respect quiet hours and are respectful. Furthermore, you are right at the Johnston Canyon trailhead, so it is easy to hop on and off the trail. Campers feel safe and secure with the staff patrolling the grounds throughout the night, and garbage cans are everywhere to prevent open food from attracting wildlife.
Some visitors do mention the train that you can hear in the distance, but others say that the echoing sounds are part of the experience and even enjoyed by the children. While Banff camping here, don’t forget to check out the ink pots, caves, and stellar hiking trails.
Castle Mountain–Banff National Park Camping
- Open: May 31 to September 17
- Cost: Campsites starting at $22 ($9.00 for a firepit).
- Reservations First come first serve
If you have a tent or smaller RV and want to stay in a beautiful wooded Banff National Park campground, than the Castle Mountain Campground is for you. This rustic gem rests near Johnston Canyon and remains nestled in a lovely wooded area with a gurgling creek running through the grounds.
You can go for a scenic drive, view the wildlife, or stay at your rustic campsite and have a picnic since all sites come with a picnic table. Castle Mountain also has a communal cooking shelter with a useful wood burning stove that you can use to cook your diced veggies and burgers for the evening meal.
Although primitive at first glance, this is one of those Banff campgrounds that does have both hot and cold running water and flush toilets, but no showers. Nearby, Castle Junction also has a gas station, small grocery store, and bar, so you can fill up on gas, food, and beer if you choose.
Reservations are not accepted as it is first-come-first-serve, but you do self-register at a kiosk on the premises. There are no more than two vehicles, two tents, and six people allowed per site. And food lockers are available. If you want some basic Banff camping in the lush Canadian wilderness, then Castle Mountain is your place.
Rampart Creek–Banff National Park Camping
- Open: June 1 to October 8
- Cost: Campsites Starting at $18 ($9.00 for a firepit).
- Reservations First come first serve
- Dry toilet
- 50 sites
Want a small, rustic campground within driving distance to the beautiful Saskatchewan River? Then check out Rampart Creek that has 50 sites and costs only $18 a night. This Banff camping experience is a wonderful one for hikers who want to take advantage of the numerous trails surrounding them, or paddlers who wish to kayak along one of the many surrounding lakes or rivers. Not into adventure sports? Then hop in the car and drive the Iceland Parkway which features panoramic landscapes and clear skies.
Note that there are only dry toilets at this Banff National Park Campground and reservations are done on a first-come-first-serve basis. Also, located by beautiful icefields, this Banff campground will have your family experiencing true nature because there is no cell phone service. So if you want a place to relax and cut yourself off from the modern world, Rampart cCreek offers it all.
Tunnel Mountain Village 1-Banff National Park Camping
- Open: May 10 to October 1
- Cost: Campsites starting at $28 ($9.00 for a fire pit ).
- Reservations May 10 to Sept 30
- 618 sites
Tunnel Mountain Village is broken up into three distinct campgrounds: Tunnel Mountain Village 1, 2, and 3. Tunnel Mountain 1 and 2 both start at $28 a night; however, Tunnel Mountain Village 3 offers a much more upscale experience and starts at $120 a night. I recommend Tunnel Mountain 1 over them all because it provides more privacy and views of nature than the other two. However, it is the only one without electric and sewage. Still, Tunnel Village 1 is nestled in the Rocky Mountains, clean and well-maintained, and only a 5-10 minute drive from downtown Banff.
If you are looking for a reliable Banff National Park campground that has essential amenities, breathtaking views, and that’s in a convenient location, then reserve one of these 618 sites now.
Things To Do In Banff
There is no shortage of things to do in Banff. Although a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Banff also represents a place of art and culture, makes way for a fabulous culinary experience, and encourages relaxation at the local spas and hot springs. There are even trains and gondolas, shopping, wildlife parks, and more.
Don’t miss the eclectic shops and dining. Or, take the kids on an evening safari to take pictures of a mountain goat on a ridge. You can also get down at a concert at the Art’s Center, or view the magnificent Banff sights from a glass gondola within the Rockies. Your Banff camping vacation will be complete with all of the unique forms of entertainment that this area offers.
Outdoor Sports-Things To Do in Banff
- Remember that many sports depend on the season
- Cost: If you have the equipment and are not hiring an expert, many outdoor sports are a form of cheap entertainment and thrills.
- For more details visit here
We have to start with the massive list of adventure sports that could enrich your Banff National Park experience. If camping in Banff National Park, don’t miss your chance to experience nature while fulfilling your fitness kick! Get your adrenaline pumping with these spectacular outdoor sports. You can go whitewater rafting, scrambling (a mix of hiking and rock climbing), dog sledding, climbing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, fishing, ice walking, ice skating,hiking, biking, golfing, and horseback riding. Banff is a tourist destination for a lot of active souls, and there are helpful sports shops scattered around the area that will provide you with everything you need, no matter which outdoor adventure you choose to try.
Banff Sightseeing Gondola-Things To Do in Banff
- Open: Year round but hours vary by season
- Cost: Around $62 for adults and $31 US for kids 6-15, kids 5 and under free)
- For more details visit here.
Who doesn’t love gondolas? They are an excellent way to see beautiful places and offer a unique perspective of majestic sights that visitors cannot experience from the ground. The Banff sightseeing gondola soars the summit of Sulphur Mountain and allows visitors to see 360-degree views through the up-to-date (and very safe) glass gondolas. Up to four passengers can ride, and visitors can gaze into Banff Bow Valley and view the surrounding mountains that climb to over 7,000 feet above sea level!
A free shuttle bus will take you to the gondola, and after your ride, feel free to explore the gift and coffee shops, skywalk, walking trails, and gigantic compass. This is a great outing for solo hikers and families alike. Keep in mind to check the times before you go because gondola hours vary by season.
Shop and Eat-Things – To Do in Banff
- Open: Year-round
- Cost: Varies
Banff is also known for its unique sports and shops as well as its culinary flare. Take a trip to the Lake Louise snowboarding shops, and/or experience the Banff souvenir, tea, soap, and clothing shops. get another Patagonia sweatshirt to keep you cozy while camping in Banff. For a list of souvenir shops in the nearby areas visit here: And bring your Benjamins because there is no sales tax, so you might get crazy.
Banff also has some incredible culinary delights. Whether you are a fan of family or Asian restaurants, there is something for all foodies in Banff. One high recommendation on the list is the Mountain Restaurant owned by the Yuh family, who serve up international culinary delights like chicken souvlaki and grilled bulgogi while guests view the great outdoors. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t forget to order a soup; they make it from scratch. See more about this fine restaurant here
Get Down with the Arts at Banff Center of Arts and Music – Things To Do In Banff
- Open: Year round
- Cost: Varies
- For more details and tickets available visit here:
If you are into music and art, then don’t hesitate to check out the Banff Center of the Arts and Music. The center has trails on site, and a list available here of awesome concerts that you won’t want to miss.
This cultural gem provides a stage for well-known bands such as Blue Rodeo, A Tribe Called Red, and The Sheepdogs. It also does not shy away from classical music and opera, so no matter what your favorite musical genre, you should be able to find a concert that you will enjoy. The Banff Center of Arts and Music gives tired campers the perfect outlet to a long day and offers a break from listening to the crickets. Get dancing!
If you are in Banff for the summer, make sure you check out the center’s summer series, you won’t be disappointed!
Take an Evening Wildlife Safari – Things To Do In Banff
- Open: April-October
- Cost: General admission $54, Kids 6-12 $30-5-free,
- For more details visit here.
Want to see elk, bears, Mountain Goats and more? Then take an evening safari where you see wildlife 95 percent of the time! Not only will visitors have the opportunity to view these awesome creatures in their natural habitats, but they also will be able to learn about the critical roles these animals play in our environment and how the park protects them. Think about it, how many times are you going to be in the vicinity of so much extraordinary wildlife? This is a meaningful and delightful activity for the whole family.
If you are looking for a unique and breathtaking experience, then look no further than Banff National Park camping. Banff is perfect for the rugged travelers who are into sports and primitive camping, but it’s also suitable for those who enjoy a blend of the outdoors and culture.
Banff Camping –
Camping in Banff allows you to view majestic mountains and lakes, eat yummy Canadian food, and keep busy with unique forms of entertainment.
The wildlife, glaciers, lakes, mountains, and heavenly scenic views will only add to your stay. Banff National Park is the perfect destination to escape the rat race and reflect while immersed in the beautiful icy surroundings. This is a unique nature-filled vacation that you and the family can enjoy, and the photos you take will blow up your Facebook feed!
I hope you enjoyed this journey into Banff National Park camping, and are ready to book your stay at one of these great campgrounds today.