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UDPATED March 2021: Reservations for trips between May 2021 and March 2022 will open in April 2021, instead of January. This will give more time to consider the latest COVID-19 measures. Group activities and public events will be prohibited until further notice.

Summer travel planning is heating up, and that means camping season. While we’re not going to go over the exact details of how to pitch a tent in beautiful Banff National Park, we are going to cover the ways in which you can get into nature while camping in Banff, Canada’s oldest and greatest national park.

Camping remains one of the most affordable, family-friendly holidays you can enjoy. Even if you’ve never tried sleeping out under the stars, why not make this summer the time to test out your outdoor survival skills? There’s no better place to try than camping in Banff, one of Canada’s amazing National Parks.

moraine lake in banff
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park (Credit: Parks Canada)

How to Pitch a Tent in Beautiful Banff National Park

Canada has some of other finest national and provincial park campgrounds anywhere on the planet, bar none. They are beautifully situated in nature, on lakes, rivers and mountainsides. Some are near cities while others are rightly many hours drive away from civilization.

There’s really nothing more Canadian than pitching a tent in the forest or by a lake, starting up a campfire, cooking outdoors, roasting smores, and telling ghost stories or tall tales. It’s practically a right of passage. Which is why we were heartened to see so many people of all colours, ethnicities and sizes out camping in Alberta and British Columbia’s national parks last summer.

vw camper van camping in banff
Luxe Camping in the VW Vanagon Westfalia (Credit: C Laroye)

1. Get a Parks Canada Discovery Pass

If you want to camp or visit Banff, Lake Louise, or any of Canada’s 100+ National Parks, you will need to purchase a Discovery Pass. For a family or group up to seven people, the cost is approximately $140 CAD.

2. Make Camping Reservations

UDPATED March 2021: Reservations for trips between May 2021 and March 2022 will open in April 2021, instead of January. This will give more time to consider the latest COVID-19 measures. Group activities and public events will be prohibited until further notice.

Like a hotel in summer season, campgrounds in national parks are busy places that require reservations. Parks Canada makes it easy to reserve your campsite with its online reservation system for 27 of its national parks and historic sites, including camping in Banff.

rv camping in banff
A campsite with a view at Tunnel Mountain campground (Credit: Parks Canada S. Gignac)

There are 13 campgrounds in Banff National Park, offering 2,468 campsites. How you choose a campsite is up to you. Would you like to be near hundreds of other campers (but close to Banff town centre) at Tunnel Mountain Village, or camp further up Icefields Parkway at Mosquito Creek? Camping with an RV and need more space? Or would you like to test out one of the 10 oTENTik ‘tent cabins’ at Two Jack Lakeside?

Choose the campground that works best for you, and book your campsite early to avoid disappointment.

How to Explore Beautiful Banff with Kids

3. No Tent? No Problem!

The oTENTik is exclusive to quite a few Parks Canada campgrounds across the nation. They’re all about helping you feel comfortable in the great outdoors. The oTENTik features an A-frame cabin/tent hybrid, mounted on a raised wooden floor. There are beds for up to 6 people, lighting, electricity, hot showers, indoor heat, an outdoor firepit and BBQ.

oTENTik camping in banff
A Parks Canada oTENTik tent makes camping easy peasy (Credit: Parks Canada)

4. Equipped Camping

If you’re a newbie to the camping experience, fear not! Parks Canada and Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) have partnered to offer an exciting new service at Banff’s Two Jack Main Campground – Equipped Camping. There are five such reservable walk-in sites, fully kitted out and set up with tents, sleeping bags and pads, cooking equipment and fire pit. This is the perfect way to ease into the camping experience, especially if you’re not sure whether your family will love it, and you don’t wish to buy all of the necessary equipment yourself.

lady seated in parks canada red chair
Every Parks Canada National Park has red chairs to relax in nature and enjoy spectacular views. (Credit: S Laroye)

Where to Eat in Banff: the best restaurants in town

5. Camping feeds your nature fix

Camping in Banff opens up unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities in the 6,640 km2 of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers. You may notice elk walking past your tent as you sip early-morning coffee, or see a black bear during a day hike in this majestic place. Do no harm, respect nature, and enjoy the great outdoors in Canada’s first and finest national park.

people enjoying banff hot springs
Dip into the thermal hot springs overlooking Banff. You’ll be glad for the soak! (Credit: C Laroye)

And don’t forget to enjoy a dip in the Banff Hot Springs as a special, unforgettable treat. Beware, the hot springs are uber-popular and crowded at any time of day. You may be waiting your turn if the facility is at capacity.

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Summer season is camping Banff season. How to pitch a tent and plan your camping adventure in beautiful Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. | summer vacation | camping

Have you camped at Banff National Park? Did you see any wildlife? Share your experiences in the comments below.

The Travelling Mom thanks Parks Canada for hosting our camping experience in Banff National Park. As always, our opinions are honest and our own.

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