Camping in Banff National Park is a wonderful experience, but for first-time visitors navigating how to book camping can be a pain. Below we share the basics on booking campsites in Banff.

Quick, what’s your favorite national park?

If you’re like most of us, it’s Banff National Park. From the deep blue waters of Lake Louise to the towering peaks of the Rockies, Banff consists of some of the most majestic and enchanting terrain in all of North America. And there’s no better way to enjoy it than on a secluded and solitary backcountry camping trip.

Of course, with a park this beautiful, you won’t be the only one enjoying it – which is why it’s so important to plan ahead and know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, where are the best spots to camp, and what are the rules you need to follow.

Just in time for the season, here’s everything you need to know about front country camping in Banff National Park.

Basic Info on Camping in Banff

Frontcountry Camping at Banff National Park – The Facts

There are exactly 2,462 campsites in 14 campgrounds located around Banff National Park. They all have check-in between 3PM and 8PM, and checkout at 11AM the next morning. None of them have WiFi or other Internet access, and cell phone service is limited – so don’t expect to make any calls or send any photos. (Camping should be a tech-free experience, anyway!)

 

When To Go Camping in Banff National Park – Year-Round and Seasonal Campgrounds?
Most frontcountry campgrounds in Banff National Park are only open May/early-June to late September or early October. Tunnel Mountain Village 2 and Lake Louise Trailer are the only campgrounds open year-round. Exact open dates vary slightly year-to-year.

 

Crowds and Getting A Camping Spot in Banff

June, July and August are peak season in Banff National Park, and campsites fill up fast! Most campsites require reservations during the summer months, and you’re wise to reserve months in advance if visiting this time of year. Popular campsites, Like Two Jack Lakesite and Two Jack Main, can be totally booked out for the summer within days of reservations opening.

If you’re hoping to snag a first-come, first-served campsite, arrive as early as possible. It’s not at all unheard of to see some people camped out just waiting for a site to open at check-out time. So plan ahead of time, and don’t count on just rolling up and snagging a site at all in spring or summer.

Make note: Some of the seasonal campsites that require reservations may still have a few weeks after opening for the spring where sites are first-come, first-serve. Lake Louise Tent and Two Jack Lakeside come to mind.

 

How to Make a Campsite Reservation in Banff National Park?
Reservations for a campsite in Banff can be made online at Parks Canada. Payment can be made via credit card, or cash or Traveller’s Cheque in person.

 

Can I Have A Fire at my Banff Campsite?

It depends. Some campgrounds will allow you to have a fire in the firepits, while others will not. Double-check this when choosing your campground and making your reservations. The campsites that do have firepits, will likely require a fee to use them.

Van Camping in Banff
Van Camping in Banff

List of Frontcountry Campsites in Banff National Park

Campgrounds near Banff

Tunnel Mountain Village 1

Open: June through October 6
# of Sites: 618
Type: Tent and Trailer/RV
Amenities: Flush toilet and showers
Cost: $27.40

Likely the most popular campsite in Banff National Park, Tunnel Mountain Village 1 is a relaxing, but not solitary, experience with stunning Rocky Mountain views. It’s a short distance to Banff town center, so it’s easy to get to, and it provides quick access to a number of hiking and biking trails. And it has all the amenities you’re looking for, including picnic tables, so you can camp in comfort. And yes, it fills up fast.

 

Tunnel Mountain Village 2

Open: Year-Round
# of Sites: 188
Type: Tent and Trailer/RV
Amenities: Flush toilets, showers, electrical hookup
Cost: $32.30

One of only two campsites in Banff that is open 12 months of the year, Tunnel Mountain Village 2 is just a short drive or hike from Banff town center. A shuttle runs from the town center regularly during the summer months for tent campers and travelers. It’s one of the most popular sites for RV campers, too Of the 188 sites, 158 are designated for RV’s and come with an electrical hookup. The remaining 30 sites are for tent campers, and all have access to pit toilets and hot showers.

 

Tunnel Mountain Trailer Campground

Open: May 9 to Oct 6
# of Sites: 321
Type: Trailer/RV
Amenities: Flush toilets, showers, electrical hookup
Cost: $38.20

This campsite is only for trailers. While it has electrical hookups, and some sites have nice views, it’s more like a parking lot and not our favourite.

 

Two Jack Main Campground

Open: June 20 to September 2
# of Sites: 349
Type: Tent and Trailer/RV
Amenities: Flush toilets
Cost: $21.50

For those who prefer tent camping without all the amenities, Two Jack Main is one of the most popular campsites at Banff. It’s located in a wooded area close to Two Jack Lakeside, and while it won’t provide solitude, it does provide an all-around relaxing experience. Again, this one books up fast, so reserve well in advance!

 

Two Jack Lakeside Campground

Open: May 9th to October 7th
# of Sites: 64
Type: Tents
Amenities: Flush toilets, showers
Cost: $27.40

Smaller and slightly more secluded, Two Jack Lakeside is one of Banff’s most prized campsites. It’s for tent campers only, so it definitely feels quieter and more scenic. And yes, the views of turquoise-green Two Jack Lake and surrounding mountains are pretty incredible – there’s nothing like waking up to those!

Banff Campsite
Banff Campsite

Frontcountry Campgrounds near Lake Louise

Lake Louise Trailer Campground

Open: Year-Round!
# of Sites: 189
Type: RV’s
Amenities: Flush Toilets, showers, sani-dumps
Cost: $32.50

Lake Louise Trailer is open year-round, and offers 189 wide, spacious sites just 4 km from beautiful Lake Louise. You’ll need to make reservations June through to the end of September – but come off-season, you just might find some secluded camping in this gorgeous trailer campsite.

 

Lake Louise Tent Campground

Open: May 30 to September 30
# of Sites: 206
Type: Tents + RV’s
Amenities: flush toilets, showers, sanidumps,
Cost: $27.40

Like Two Jack Lakeside, this is a prized campsite in Banff, situated in a wooded area just 4 km from Lake Louise. It’s duly popular, so book well in advance!

Canoists on Moraine Lake
Canoists on Moraine Lake

Campgrounds on the Bow Valley Parkway

Castle Mountain Campground

Open: May 30 to September 16
# of Sites: 43
Type: Tents + RV’s
Amenities: Flush Toilets
Cost: $21.50

If you’re allergic to reservations, head to Castle Mountain, it’s one of Banff’s two first-come, first-serve campsites. You’ll still want to arrive early in the day to snag a spot, however, as this heavily-wooded and quiet spot is very popular in summer.

 

Protection Mountain Campground

Open: June 21 to September 2
# of Sites: 72
Type: Tents + RV’s
Amenities: Flush Toilets
Cost: $21.50

Protection Mountain is located right off the Bow Valley Parkway, just a short hop from Lake Louise, and nearby hikes offer some spectacular mountain views. It’s the only other first-come, first-serve campsite in Banff after Castle Mountain, and more primitive than some of the others. It has tons of excellent camping to choose from and there always seems to be at least a few spots open if you arrive at a decent hour.

 

Johnston Canyon Campground

Closed: until Spring 2020
# of Sites: 132
Type: Tents + RV’s
Amenities: Flush toilets, showers
Cost: N/A

Johnston Canyon is closed for renovations in 2019, but when it reopens next year, it’ll continue to be a prime spot for camping in a centrally located, yet scenic wooded area – right next to the Johnston Canyon hiking area! It’s right off the Bow Valley Parkway with real easy access.

Forest at Banff Springs
Forest at Banff Springs

Campgrounds on the Icefields Parkway

Mosquito Creek Campground

Open: May 31 to October 14
# of Sites: 32
Type: Tents + RV’s
Amenities: pit toilets
Cost: $17.60

One of the park’s most primitive and secluded sites, Mosquito Creek is located right off the Icefields Parkway, making it the perfect jumping-off point for exploring Banff’s northern reaches. It’s first-come, first-served and the last campsite to close down for the year, making it an excellent choice for finding some solitude or a last-minute site in summer.

 

Silverhorn Creek Campground

Open: May 31 to September 30
# of Sites: 45
Type: Tents + RV’s
Amenities: pit toilets
Cost: $15.70

Located near Mosquito Creek on the Icefields Parkway, Silverhorn Creek is also first-come, first-served. Come here to help yourself to a last-minute, primitive campsite away from the crowds, and enjoy the stunning mountain views it serves up.

 

Waterfowl Lakes Campground

Open: June 21 to September 3
# of Sites: 116
Type: Tents + RV’s
Amenities: Flush Toilets
Cost: $21.50

This campsite sits along the Icefield Parkway near Silverhorn Creek and Mosquito Creek but is larger and usually a bit more crowded.. Sites are all situated within pine tree forest, have plenty of room for trucks or trailers, and are just a few minutes’ walk to the serene Waterfowl Lakes themselves.

 

Rampart Creek Campground

Open: May 31 to October 14
# of Sites: 50
Type: Tents + RV’s
Amenities: Pit Toilets
Cost: $17.60

Like Mosquito Creek, Rampart Creek is one of the last campgrounds in Banff to close for the year, making it an excellent spot for a last-minute, first-come, first-serve trip along the Icefields Parkway as the season winds down. It’s a quiet, well-maintained spot in a scenic pine forest, right next to Rampart Creek itself and surrounded by some accessible peaks.