Push those meetings and video calls to next week. The sublime scenery of Banff National Park is calling your name. Today, we’re traveling to Canada’s oldest national park to explore the majestic mountains and glimmering lakes that attract visitors from across the globe.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that visitors flock to this lovely locale. Since 2010, Banff National Park has welcomed over three million visitors each year, making Banff Canada’s most visited park.
Fortunately, Banff is an expansive park. There are plenty of trails and spacious landscapes to explore so that you can enjoy Banff's wide-open beauty.
Having a guide to this gem of a park makes your trip that much sweeter. Read on for your guide to RV camping in Banff National Park!
Banff National Park Facts
First, let’s learn about what makes Banff a must-see destination. Below are a handful of points to pique your interest. We hope you find these Banff National Park facts enlightening.
Banff was discovered in 1833 when railroad workers stumbled upon a hot spring. It earned national park status in 1885, making it the oldest national park in Canada and the third oldest national park in the world.
Get out your camera! Lake Louise is the most photographed lake in the world. At 5,000 feet above sea level, this striking body of water is a sight to behold. There are multiple hikes in the area that offer great lookout points of Lake Louise.
Banff is home to an array of wildlife. Caribou, also known as reindeer, are often spotted around the park. Grizzly bears also roam Banff, but they appear less frequently. Dawn and dusk are the ideal times for bear sightings.
Mount Forbes is the tallest mountain in Banff National Park. It stands at 11,850 feet high and is open for climbing to experienced hikers.
There is so much to explore in this massive natural wonderland. The park spans 2,564 square miles of breathtaking landscapes, making it the second-largest national park in Canada.
Best Banff National Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
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For the ultimate experience while RV camping in Banff National Park, finding a prime location to relax is key. Let’s move full speed ahead to uncover five beautiful Banff National Park RV sites.
Two Jack Lakeside Campground
Amenities: If you are looking for RV camping near Banff National Park, this campground is in a great location. Two Jack Lakeside Campground is a short twenty-minute drive from Banff National Park. There are food lockers available to store goods that attract animals as well as bathrooms with showers. There are also picnic areas throughout the campground.
Capacity: This campground has 64 sites and accommodates RVs up to 27 feet in length.
More information: Two Jack Lakeside Campground
Tunnel Mountain Village II Campground
Amenities: Next up for options while RV camping Banff National Park is Tunnel Mountain Village II. This campground is just three miles from Banff. It has electric hookups for RVs in 15, 30 and 50 amp options. It also has a dump station. There are restrooms and showers available in this large campground.
Capacity: Tunnel Mountain Village II Campground is made up of 188 sites. However, the website states that only a fraction of the sites are electrical sites. The grounds are open all year long.
More information: Tunnel Mountain Village II
Lake Louise Trailer Campground
Amenities: Lake Louise is located in the town of the same name and is less than three miles from the lake. The campground is located about an hour from Banff.
This campground has full hookups. In other words, RV users can utilize water, electrical, and sewer connection services while RV camping! There are 30 and 50 amp electrical hookups available at the campground.
Capacity: Lake Louise Trailer Campground has 189 spots and is open year-round. It can accommodate RVs up to 50 feet in length.
More information: Lake Louise Trailer Campground
Rundle Mountain RV Park
Amenities: Located just five minutes from Banff National Park, this RV park is in a prime location for those eager to explore. This pet-friendly campground has hookups and bike rentals for nature lovers who want to explore nearby trails on two wheels.
Capacity: Rundle Mountain has just under 40 sites, according to the map of the grounds.
More information: Rundle Mountain RV Park
Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court
Amenities: Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court is another of the Banff National Park RV campgrounds with full hookups. The campground is 20 minutes from Banff National Park.
With electrical and water hookups, you can ensure your RV shower, microwave, and other tools are ready for use. This campground has sites that are accessible to those with disabilities and a dump station for RVs.
Capacity: This large campground has 321 sites. You can reserve a spot on the Parks Canada website.
More information: Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court
Best Time to Visit Banff National Park for RV Camping
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Now that you’re familiar with some RV campgrounds in Banff National Park, it’s time to determine when to set off on your Canadian adventure. Below, we’ll take a look at each season and the weather it brings to Banff.
Time to bundle up! As you can imagine, winter in Canada is not for the faint of heart. Highs in December and January typically fall around 22 degrees Fahrenheit. February highs hover around 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter activities are plentiful in Banff National Park. From skiing on Mount Norquay to ice skating on Lake Louise, there’s always an icy activity nearby during winter at Banff. Just make sure you plan for the limited daylight hours. In the winter months, daylight can last for as few as eight hours each day.
Spring is one of the least busy seasons to visit Banff and has lots of events. The weather in Banff during the spring is still chilly, but more pleasant than the freezing winter days.
Highs in March hover around the high 30s. April highs enter into the high 40s and low 50s. In May, the climate enters the high 50s.
In mid-May, the annual Slush Cup competition takes place. According to the event page, this event “ is a competition where participants ski or snowboard down a run into an icy pool of water.” It is quite a sight to see, and spring Banff visitors can watch and even compete if they so choose.
Warmer temperatures, loads of activities, and long sun-filled days make summer a prime time to make the trip. June, July and August bring highs from the mid-60s to the low 70s with July standing out as the warmest month in Banff.
The weather is pleasant, and there is plenty of time to fit activities into each day. Summers in Banff boast long daylight hours. In July, average daily sunlight lasts for 16 hours! With an array of hiking trails and other outdoor activities open, it’s no surprise that summer is arguably the best time to visit Banff National Park.
Last but not least is autumn in Banff. In September highs hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit whole October temps drop into the 50s. The climate begins to delve back into chilled conditions in November with highs in the low 30s. Though the weather shifts, fall is still a beautiful time to explore Banff National Park.
There are fewer crowds during this season and lots of events to take part in. For instance, the Banff Craft Beer Festival takes place in November. Here, brew aficionados can partake in the festivities. Additionally, Banff Centre’s Mountain Film and Book Festival happens from late October to early November.
Things to Do in Banff National Park
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The awe-inspiring mountains and lakes of Banff are likely enough to keep visitors preoccupied. But if you need ideas on how to spend your time in Banff, you’ll love the list below. Read on to learn more about things to do in Banff National Park!
A visit to Banff is not complete without a few hikes through the remarkable terrain. A great hike for beginners is Johnston Canyon. This hike is not too high in elevation and takes you up close to two cascading waterfalls. In the winter, these falls freeze and provide a strikingly beautiful scene for hikers in the area.
Kayak around Johnson Lake, The Bow River, or other radiant bodies of water in Banff. To immerse yourself in the wonders this park has to offer, take advantage of the water activities. There are plenty of canoeing and kayaking opportunities around Banff that allow visitors to take in the park's tranquil waters. Time to get paddling!
In Banff, “dashing through the snow” is not just part of a cheery Christmas song. Here, you can experience dog sledding up close and personal. Experienced mushers like the folks at Kingmik Dog Sled Tours offer visitors the chance to take in the landscape while being led by a pack of snow dogs. From 20 minute rides around Lake Louise to six-hour adventure trails, there is a dog sled tour for everyone.
Inhale the relaxing steam of the Banff Hot Springs after a day in the brisk air and chilly temperatures of Banff National Park. These phenomenal relaxation centers offer a great way to unwind. According to locals, the secluded springs at sunrise have spectacular views.
Tips on Visiting Banff National Park
The next stop on this guide to RV camping in Banff National Park is information station. In other words, we're here to advise you before your visit to help you have an unforgettable trip. Let’s get into the tips!
If you’re visiting Banff in the summer, expect lots of people as this is one of the busiest times of the year. You can beat the crowds with a bit of planning. Take advantage of the long summer days by waking up early to visit popular destinations.
Areas like The Banff Gondola, Moraine Lake and Cavell Meadows Hike are packed during the day. Visiting these areas in the early morning or late in the day after many visitors go to dinner is a great way to experience these locations without large swaths of people.
To avoid large crowds altogether, visit Banff in the spring or fall. These two times of year are known as shoulder seasons and are much less crowded.
Banff is a huge park with lots of areas to discover. Having your own transportation is the best way to get around the park and set your pace for the journey. Consider an RV rental for Banff National Park, so you’re not confined to one section of the park or reliant on bus schedules to take you to the next destination.
If you visit Banff from the states or another country, be sure to alert your bank about international purchases. This is crucial as some shops in Banff only accept card payments. Additionally, be mindful that the currency in Banff is the Canadian dollar. You can visit a currency exchange station to trade your money for Canadian currency.
RV Rental for Banff National Park
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Locals and visitors agree—there is no place on Earth like Banff National Park. To get the most out of your trip, consider an RV rental in Banff National Park. With the ability to navigate around and explore the park on your terms, you’ll be able to soak up the beauty of Banff. Plus, you’ll have all the comforts of home while on the road.
Each Cruise Canada RV is fitted with a shower, microwave, gas cooktop, generator and other amenities that make road travel an enjoyable experience.
Rent your RV today with Cruise Canada and plan your trip to this awesome Canadian national park!
— Update: 25-12-2022 — We found an additional article The Ultimate Guide to Camping in Banff National Park from the website banffnationalpark.com for the keyword rv camping banff national park.
Find Campgrounds in and near Banff, Alberta
Looking to explore the great outdoors this summer? Why not set up camp in one of the many beautiful campgrounds located in and around Banff National Park? With so many options to choose from, it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the best campgrounds in and around Banff National Park. No matter what your camping style may be, you’re sure to find a campground that suits your needs. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure today!
Quick Facts on Banff Camping
The campgrounds surrounding Banff National Park offer the most inexpensive way to lodge while providing campers with the best scenery and access to nature. The 13 Banff National Park campgrounds offer 2,468 sites and they are very affordable.
The demand for campgrounds peaks from June through September, with July and August being the busiest. Most of the campgrounds operate on a first come – first serve basis. It is advisable that campers without reservations arrive at a campground early to have the best chance of getting a site.
Dates of Operation
Dates of operation vary. Summer camping begins in early May, with all campgrounds open by mid to late June. Summer campgrounds close throughout September and October. Winter camping is available at Tunnel Mountain Village II and Lake Louise Campground.
Banff National Park Reservations
Campers can make a reservation at any of these national parks on-line, 24 hours a day, at www.pccamping.ca. You can also dial 1-877-737-3783 (1-877-RESERVE), a toll-free number, to make a reservation through a call centre in operation from 07:00 to 19:00 local time each day.
Passes and Permits
All campers must purchase a camping permit at the campground kiosk or at the self registration kiosk. Campers have the option of purchasing a fire permit at these locations as well and must have a valid Park Pass to camp. Campers failing to purchase a pass are subject to fines.
Interpretive programs are available in some of the campgrounds during the summer months. These programs are free and everyone is welcome to attend. Consult with campground or visitor centre staff for details.
Banff National Parks campgrounds garner an enormous amount of traffic. Please pick up after yourself and never leaf food behind. Open containers and available food will attract bears.
Banff Area Campgrounds
If you’re looking for stunning views, Lake Louise Campground and Two Jack Lakeside Campground are both great options. If easy access to hiking trails is a priority, Johnston Canyon Campground and Rampart Creek Campground are both worth considering. And if you’re looking for a campground with a variety of amenities, Bow Valley Park Campground offers everything from showers to laundry facilities.
Tunnel Mountain Campground
Tunnel Mountain Campground is located in Banff National Park, just a short drive from the Town of Banff. The campground offers stunning views of the Canadian Rockies and is a great base for exploring all that Banff National Park has to offer. The campground is open year-round, and RVs are permitted in the summer months (May to October). However, due to the limited number of RV sites, reservations are strongly recommended. For those looking to experience all that Banff has to offer, Tunnel Mountain Campground is the perfect place to stay.
Waterfowl Lake Campground
Waterfowl Lake Campground is situated in Banff National Park, just a short drive from the bustling town of Banff. The campground offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and it is a popular spot for hiking and camping. However, Waterfowl Lake is also home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, elk, and bighorn sheep. As a result, visitors to the campground are advised to take precautions to avoid encountering wildlife. When hiking in the area, it is important to stay on marked trails and to make noise to avoid startling any animals. In addition, all food and garbage must be stored in bear-proof containers. By following these simple guidelines, visitors can help to ensure their safety as well as the safety of the local wildlife.
Mosquito Creek Campground
Mosquito Creek Campground is located in Banff National Park, just minutes from the town of Banff. The campground is nestled in a picturesque valley, surrounded by towering mountains and lush forest. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities in the area, including hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. The campground itself offers RV and tent sites, as well as simple cabins for those who want to rough it. Mosquito Creek Campground is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and explore the natural beauty of Canada.
Lake Louise Campground
Located in the heart of Banff National Park, Lake Louise Campground is a popular destination for campers from all over the world. Surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine forests, the campground offers stunning views and plenty of opportunities for exploration. There are three main loops in the campground, each with its own distinct character. The Aspen Loop is ideal for those seeking a more rustic camping experience, while the Pine Loop offers more amenities for RVs and trailers. Regardless of which loop you choose, you’ll be sure to appreciate the natural beauty of Lake Louise Campground.
Protection Mountain Campground
Protection Mountain Campground is located in Banff National Park, Canada. The campground offers a variety of amenities including RV hookups, showers, laundry facilities, and a playground. The campground is also close to hiking trails and the town of Banff. Protection Mountain Campground is open from mid-May to mid-September. Reservations are required and can be made up to six months in advance. Fees for the campground range from $30 CAD per night for a standard site to $60 CAD per night for an RV site with full hookups. Protection Mountain Campground is a great option for those looking for an affordable place to stay in Banff National Park.
Johnston Canyon Campground
Johnston Canyon Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in Banff National Park. The campground is located in a stunning canyon, and it offers direct access to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the park. The campground has 90 sites, and it is open from mid-May to early September. Reservations are strongly recommended, as the campground often fills up quickly.
Two Jack Lakeside Campground
Two Jack Lakeside Campground is a beautiful spot for RV camping in Banff National Park. The campground is situated on the shores of Two Jack Lake, with stunning views of the mountains. There are 36 RV sites at the campground, all of which have electrical hookups. There are also flush toilets and showers available for guests. The campground is open from mid-May to early October, and reservations are required. Fees start at $35 per night. Two Jack Lakeside Campground is the perfect spot for nature lovers who want to enjoy the beauty of Banff National Park.
Two Jack Main Campground
Two Jack Lake is located just a short drive from the town of Banff, making it the perfect place to enjoy all that the area has to offer. The campground offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains, as well as a variety of amenities for visitors to enjoy. There are over 100 sites available for RVs and tents, as well as a laundry facility, picnic tables, and fire pits. The campground also has its own store, offering groceries, camping supplies, and souvenirs. Best of all, the campground is located close to a number of hiking trails, making it easy to explore the area’s natural beauty. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway or an action-packed vacation, Two Jack Main Campground is the perfect place to stay.
Bow Valley Park Campground
The Bow Valley Park Campground is located in the stunning Bow Valley Provincial Park, just a short drive from Calgary. The campground offers a wide range of amenities, including flush toilets, showers, and laundry facilities. There are also over 100 campsites available, making it the perfect place to pitch a tent and enjoy the great outdoors. The campground is open from May to September, and reservations can be made online. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, the Bow Valley Park Campground is sure to offer something for everyone.
No matter what your camping style may be, you’re sure to find a campground that suits your needs in and around Banff National Park. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure today!
Camping in Provincial Parks Near Banff
There are several Provincial parks near Banff offer a great way to experience the beauty of the area while getting some exercise and fresh air. Provincial parks provide an opportunity to learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as the history of the area. provincial parks also offer a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, from hiking and camping to fishing and bird watching. If you’re looking for a beautiful place to camp that is close to Banff, one of these provincial parks is sure to be perfect for you.
The Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park
Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park is a year-round recreation destination located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The park offers a variety of activities for visitors, including camping, hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing. The camping facilities at Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park are top-notch, with plenty of space for tents and RVs. There are also several cabins available for rent, which are perfect for groups or families.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a sprawling 672 square kilometers of pristine wilderness located in the heart of the Canadian Prairies. The park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including deer, elk, bison, and cougars. Camping at Cypress Hills is a truly unique experience, as it offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural world. There are two campgrounds within the park, both of which offer a variety of amenities such as flush toilets and showers. The campgrounds are also centrally located, making it easy to explore all that the park has to offer.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is one of the world’s most important paleontological sites, and it is also a beautiful place to camp. The park is located in the Canadian province of Alberta, and it is home to a wide variety of dinosaur fossils. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, and they can also go on guided tours to see some of the fossilized remains up close. Camping at Dinosaur Provincial Park is a great way to experience the beauty of this unique place while also getting a taste of Canada’s rich paleontological history.
Kananaskis Country is a beautiful provincial park in Alberta, Canada that offers plenty of opportunities for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. The park is located in the Rocky Mountains, so there are plenty of scenic trails to explore. In addition, the park features several lakes and rivers, making it a great place to go swimming, canoeing, or fishing. There are also several campgrounds within the park, so you can easily find a spot to set up your tent or RV.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Situated in southern Alberta, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is a unique and fascinating place to camp. The park gets its name from the thousands of Aboriginal carvings and paintings that can be found on the sandstone cliffs that line the Milk River. For centuries, these cliffs have served as a canvas for Indigenous people to record their stories and lives. Today, visitors can explore this rich history by taking part in a guided tour or hiking along one of the many trails. The park also offers a range of camping options, from backcountry sites to RV hookups.
With so many different activities available, there is something for everyone to enjoy. provincial parks also provide an opportunity to learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as the history of the area.
— Update: 25-12-2022 — We found an additional article 5 Best Campgrounds in Banff National Park from the website www.banffjaspercollection.com for the keyword rv camping banff national park.
Camping season is upon us, and Banff National Park boasts the best sites. Fresh mountain air, breathtaking Canadian Rockies scenes and star-filled night skies promise to create an unforgettable backdrop for your next camping adventure in Banff.
To help you plan where to pitch your tent, roll in your RV, or soundly sleep in oTENTik comfort, here are the top five campgrounds to discover in Banff National Park.
Tunnel Mountain Village
Enjoy an al fresco alpine escape, with easy access to Banff Ave., at Tunnel Mountain Village. This local favourite features two unique camping areas with sweeping mountain views, an outdoor theatre and a year-round bus service to downtown Banff.
For a traditional, back-to-basics experience, opt for Village I. There are 618 sites to suit various camping set-ups, all with a firepit for cooking. If you're bringing the RV and want to power up, reserve a spot in Tunnel Mountain's three-season Village II. Or, simplify your adventure and splurge on a Parks Canada oTENTik. Requiring zero set-up, these prospector tent/A-frame cabin hybrids offer maximum comfort with minimal effort.
Two Jack Campground
When you feel like unplugging and relaxing in a magical forested setting close to town, the Two Jack Main Campground is pristine perfection. The tranquil camping retreat, featuring 380 scenic no-service sites, is also just 15-minutes from Banff's iconic Lake Minnewanka Cruise. Out-of-town visitors and first-time campers will appreciate the 32 equipped campsites, each set with a six-person tent and sleeping pads, propane stove and lantern. At the neighbouring Two Jack Lakeside Campground, you'll find ten oTENTik spots as well as waterside campsites for easy non-motorized boat access.
Lake Louise Campground
Venture an hour beyond Banff to the Lake Louise Campground, featuring a full-service hard-side RV camping section and separate soft-side area with forested sites for tents and tent trailers. The convenient location and idyllic Bow River setting allow for effortless exploration of the national park's legendary natural attractions, including Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and the Icefields Parkway. And, when you need to stock up on s'mores supplies, the quaint village of Lake Louise is mere moments away.
Mosquito Creek Campground
Quiet and secluded, Mosquito Creek Campground is a fabulous choice for small RV and tenting campers wanting a front-country, wilderness escape. The rustic campground includes 32 first-come, first-served wooded sites, potable water, a picnic shelter and bear-safe food lockers for walk-in tenting. Given its Icefields Parkway location, cell service is non-existent, gifting you more time to explore the surrounding Rocky Mountain landscape.
Oh, and don't fret about its unfortunate name; Mosquito Creek's bug population is on par with the rest of Banff National Park's great outdoors.
Waterfowl Lakes Campground
Plan on visiting the Columbia Icefield and other world-class sights along the Icefield's Parkway? Located about 60 kilometres north of Lake Louise, Waterfowl Lakes Campground is picturesque and perfectly positioned for exploring the area's many lakes, peaks, glaciers and trails.
Camp amenities include picnic tables and firepits for all 116 sites, sheltered camp kitchens with wood-burning stoves, an amphitheatre and food storage lockers. Like Mosquito Creek, Waterfowl Lakes doesn't accept reservations, making it an excellent option for last-minute, impromptu camping trips.
Parks Canada campgrounds book up quickly in Banff National Park, so it's best to reserve early or take your chances with a first-come, first-served site. Once you've picked where to stay, start planning out what to see and do—the adventures are endless in the Canadian Rockies.
— Update: 25-12-2022 — We found an additional article Camper Travel in Banff and Jasper: A Complete Guide to RVing the Parks from the website therollingpack.com for the keyword rv camping banff national park.
Updated April 2022
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In this complete guide to RVing Banff and Jasper National Parks we give you the low down on campgrounds and parking in Banff and Jasper National Parks, as well as how to get around the parks, and how to handle (or avoid) the crowds!
RV Camping Banff and Jasper National Parks
Camping in Banff and Jasper is, in our opinion, one of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of these areas. The campgrounds vary widely in size and amenities from huge RV-friendly campgrounds with hundreds of sites and full hookups, to small campgrounds with few amenities nestled in areas of pristine nature.
Overall our camping experiences in Banff and Jasper National Parks were very positive. The campgrounds were cleaner, more organized, and less expensive than National Park campgrounds in the states. Banff RV camping seemed a bit more convenient than the camping in Jasper, but we had a great time camping in both parks.
We prefer small campgrounds with beautiful campsites (and few amenities) to the larger amenity-packed campgrounds. However, we stayed in all types of campgrounds on our visit.
Tunnel Mountain Village Campground- Banff National Park
Tunnel Mountain Village Campground is the closest campground to the actual town of Banff. It is just a couple miles from the center of town, and you can hop a shuttle into town if you don’t want to drive your camper (we highly recommend utilizing the shuttle service, as getting around town is difficult in a camper).
The campground is HUGE with hundreds of sites. You can choose whether you would like a site with a fire pit (required if you want to have a campfire), a site with water/electric hookups, or just a basic site with neither of these options.
We stayed in a basic site that did not have hookups or a fire pit. In Canadian national parks if you want to have a campfire you pay for a nightly campfire permit, and then you can use as much of the provided firewood as you want throughout the night.
We chose not to spend the extra $8 for a fire permit, but we did feel that this system was FAR superior to U.S. national parks because it insures that visitors only burn local wood, AND it allows you to have a fire all night for a set price.
The bathrooms in Tunnel Mountain Village were modern and clean with hot showers. There were also food lockers available for tent campers, or anyone who wanted to stow food safely away from animals.
Grizzly bears are commonly spotted in Banff and Jasper National Parks so the campgrounds are very serious about educating the public on clean campsite practices. Banff campsites must be kept free of food and coolers anytime you are not present OR anytime you’re sleeping.
The rangers drive through the campgrounds at night, and if you have left a cooler or food sitting outside they will pick it up and move it to an indoor location where you will later have to go pick it up (don’t be that guy)!
Lake Louise Campground- Banff National Park
Further north in Banff National Park is Lake Louise Campground. Lake Louise is another large campground with over 100 sites. At Lake Louise the RV campground has electric hookups.
The Lake Louise campground was much prettier than Tunnel Mountain Village because it sits right on the bank of the Bow River. Our site was at the verrrrrry end of the campground, near a walking trail that runs right along the river. Indy really enjoyed this spot, though the ranger did warn us that grizzlies were common at the far end of the campground so never let your dog off leash.
The only downside to the Lake Louise campground was the fact that the bathrooms are really far from some of the campsites. In the future we would request a campsite close to the bathroom.
Rampart Creek Campground- Banff National Park
Rampart Creek was by far our favorite campground in Banff or Jasper. It’s a smaller campground located on the Athabasca River, and it is absolutely stunning. We were lucky enough to get a campsite right on the river, but every campsite hosts incredible mountain views.
Rampart Creek had no amenities aside from garbage, pit toilets, and firewood (which, again, you could use as long as you paid for a permit). However, the sites are nestled in the woods, and offer far more privacy than the other, larger campgrounds.
**NOTE: The sites in Rampart Creek can only accommodate campers up to 35 feet in length, so keep this in mind if you have a big rig! (We avoid restrictions like this by driving a Toyota Dolphin micro-RV)
There are several more small campgrounds like Rampart Creek along the Icefields Highway, and the next time we road trip Banff and Jasper we plan to stay in more of those small campgrounds.
Wapiti Campground- Jasper National Park
In Jasper National Park camping is a bit more limited than in Banff National Park, and the campgrounds are not designed quite as conveniently as those in Banff.
Wapiti campground is the closest campground to Jasper’s town center, and it has a walking/bicycle trail that allows you to easily bike into Jasper’s town center. We always travel with our bicycles, as they are an awesome way to get around without having to drive our RV everywhere! If you’re planning to bicycle, be sure you understand the rules of cycling!
At Wapiti we were once again lucky enough to get a campsite right on the river, and though the sites were pretty close together the scenery was beautiful.
The biggest downside to Wapiti was the fact that there is just one shower building right by the entrance to the campground, and in a campground with hundreds of sites this meant we had to bicycle, drive, or walk about a mile to take a shower.
This was only a minor inconvenience for us because we have our bicycles, but the tiny parking lot at the shower building was constantly full of cars and RVs, so that’s something to keep in mind if you camp at Wapiti campground.
RV Travel in Banff and Jasper National Parks
Both Banff and Jasper National Parks experience very high visitor volume throughout the year, and especially in spring, summer, and fall. The national parks have a lot of regulations in place to manage the traffic with so many visitors, and often these regulations specifically target RVs.
The RV driving and parking regulations in Banff and Jasper can be confusing. Here we’ll explain the rules so that you can feel confident driving your RV in the parks.
RV Parking Lots
In the actual towns of Banff and Jasper there are designated RV parking lots, and RVs are not allowed in the regular car lots, even if your RV is small enough to fit in a space in the regular lot!
We highly recommend stopping in at the first visitor center you see and picking up a free “RV Parking Banff” or “RV Parking Jasper” brochure. This brochure includes a map with all of the RV parking areas in Banff, and is absolutely invaluable to getting around the area.
When you stop in at the visitor center take a moment to speak with a representative about RV travel throughout the park. Ask which sites you can visit in your RV, and which ones you should plan to shuttle to.
The visitor center representatives are very knowledgable, and this could save you a big headache down the road!
Shuttle Service Instead of Driving your RV
There are a few sites in Banff, particularly in the Lake Louise area, that are not accessible by RV at all. Unfortunately, the signs and brochures do a very poor job of advertising this fact, and we found out the hard way by driving 45 minutes only to get turned around!
Lake Moraine, one of the most scenic spots in the rockies, is inaccessible to RVs.
We drove all the way out to Lake Moraine only to be told we would not be allowed to park, and that we would have to park about 15 miles away in the Lake Louise overflow lot, where we would need to catch a shuttle in order to visit Moraine Lake.
There were no signs indicating this, so here’s a heads up: do not attempt to drive to Moraine Lake in your camper!
Lake Louise is very close to Moraine Lake, and while there is a designated RV parking area near Lake Louise, it is small and always full. The same shuttle that will take you to Moraine Lake also stops at Lake Louise, and is a much less stressful way to visit the area!
Additionally, there are shuttles that run from Tunnel Mountain Village Campground into the Banff city center, and this is definitely the best way to reach the town center.
By taking the shuttle you can avoid having to park in town, and you do want to avoid it because RVs can only park in designated RV parking areas, which are far from everything anyway.
Once you’ve reached the town center of Banff by shuttle you can easily walk to all of the sites around town, including the very cool Cave and Basin National Historic Site.
Keep in mind that the town centers of Banff and Jasper are very small mountain towns that were not designed for large vehicle travel. If you are in a campervan or micro RV you may be able to make it work, but a large motorhome or trailer will likely have difficulty maneuvering on the small in-town streets.
This is another great reason to use the shuttle into town, rather than trying to drive your camper!
There are TONS of rented RV’s driving around Banff and Jasper. In fact, the vast majority of campers we saw were rentals.
Anyone who owns a camper knows that it takes time to get used to driving a larger vehicle, so the high volume of rented RV’s makes for some tricky driving situations, especially in crowded RV parking lots.
Drive defensively! Pay special attention to rented campers (they will be obvious, with huge logos all over the vehicle), as the driver may not be used to driving such a big vehicle.
If you are considering renting an RV for travel in Banff and Jasper you may want to look into camper rentals in Calgary or Vancouver. Give yourself a few extra days so that you have time to learn to drive your rental RV before you enter the national park traffic.
Best Time to Visit Banff and Jasper National Parks
Spring and Fall are definitely the best time to visit Banff and Jasper! Winter in the rockies makes it very difficult to navigate the parks, and in the summer the hordes of tourists may ruin your trip.
When I say hordes of tourists, I mean it. We visited Banff and Jasper in the Fall shoulder season, and even then we had to have a strategy to avoid the crowds (more on that below)!
In Spring and Fall the weather is manageable, and there won’t be quite as many tour buses unloading at the most popular sites.
How to Avoid the Crowds in Banff and Jasper National Parks
The crowds in Banff and Jasper National Parks were far larger than we ever anticipated, even in the fall shoulder season! Here is the truth about crowds in Banff and Jasper and how to handle them.
How Crowded IS it?
Before we visited Banff and Jasper National Parks we did plenty of research on the parks so we would be prepared for our trip. While our research did mention crowds a bit, most resources only warned against summer crowds. Since we were planning to travel from Banff to Jasper in the fall we didn’t think we needed to worry about the crowds.
Boy were we WRONG!
I cannot imagine what Banff and Jasper must be like in the summer because even in late September the crowds were overwhelming.
The giant visitor center parking lots were often completely full, by early evening the more popular campgrounds with hundreds of sites were often full, and, most notably, the most popular scenic sites were often congested with hundreds of selfie-snapping tourists.
Our first night camping in Banff National Park we were bewildered by the crowds we had been forced to fight through all day long. We both have experience with Yosemite National Park in the United States, and the crowds in Banff were exponentially worse than we’d ever experienced in the parks in the states.
We sat in the camper trying to figure out how we would make the most of our visit with crowds this pervasive.
We came up with a strategy that evening that served us very well for the rest of our trip. While we weren’t able to completely avoid the crowds, we were able to dodge them enough to enjoy our week camping in Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Become an Early Bird
Getting up at sunrise to see the most popular sights is a great way to avoid the crowds at Yosemite National Park in the USA, so we decided to give that a try in Banff National Park as well.
Sure enough, if we got up before the sun came up and made it to a popular spot around sunrise we had the location nearly all to ourselves!
This was our strategy for hiking to the Lake Agnes Teahouse in Banff National Park. The Lake Agnes Teahouse is one of the most famous hikes in Banff National Park as it leads to a beautiful teahouse sitting on the shore of Lake Agnes which is only accessible by hiking.
We began to make our way up to the teahouse around sunrise, and when we arrived (around 9am) we were able to get one of the few lake view seats on the teahouse porch.
We were certainly not the only hikers at that time, but the crowd was thin, and we were able to enjoy the experience. On our hike back down from the teahouse we passed LOTS of people, and we were thrilled that our strategy worked to beat the crowds!
Avoid the Quick Stop Scenery off the Icefields Parkway
When you drive the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper there are many spots where you can stop in a small parking lot, walk a short distance, and easily view some epic scenery.
This sounds convenient…until you actually attempt it.
These quick stop nature spots were consistently overflowing with crowds of tourists. You practically had to fight your way through people just to get a glimpse of the scenery.
After attempting this a couple times Tom and I decided that these spots just weren’t worth it, and instead we went in search of 1-2 mile hikes that would take us to less accessible scenic views.
This strategy worked very well for us, and we enjoyed the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper SO much more once we ditched the quick stop scenery.
Camp for the Night Near the Spot you Would Like to see in the Morning
When we were done sightseeing for the day we would look at a map and decide which beautiful sight we wanted to check out first thing the next morning. Then we would find the campground closest to that sight and camp there for the night.
The scenic spots in Banff and Jasper become far more crowded in the late afternoon so we used that time to get a good spot in a campground rather than battle the crowds.
This worked well for us, as we got some quiet time in the campground before the other campers showed up, and in the morning we were already perfectly positioned to catch the sunrise in a beautiful location.
Spend more time in Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is actually larger than Banff National Park, and the crowds definitely begin to thin out the deeper you go into Jasper.
We began our visit in Banff National Park, so by the time we got to Jasper and realized it was far more peaceful our trip was nearly over. In the future we would probably move through Banff quickly, and spend more time exploring in Jasper National Park.
We really enjoyed our camper travel in Banff and Jasper National Parks, and highly recommend this RV road trip!
If you are planning your own Banff/Jasper camper adventure be sure to grab Lonely Planet’s beautiful, comprehensive guide to the area!
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