Banff National Park Camping That You'll Love
Banff National Park camping is a fantastic way to discover some of the most incredible outdoor offerings in the Canadian Rockies. This classic destination boasts rugged peaks, lush green forests, emerald blue lakes, glacially carved valleys, and an impressive cast of wildlife.
Wondering how to make the most out of your trip to this gem of a park? Our guide on RV camping in Banff includes all the insider tips you need to have a fulfilling experience.
About Banff National Park
Born in 1885, Banff is Canada’s oldest national park and the world’s third-oldest. Interestingly, it was established after the discovery of the natural hot springs (the Cave and Basin) in Sulphur Mountain. Moreover, Banff is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s managed by Parks Canada.
The park sits on 2,564 square miles of wild and picturesque country. Also, it’s the second-largest national park in Canada. For centuries, indigenous people have been living in the region, and today it’s still an important historical and contemporary place for them.
What to Expect when Visiting Banff National Park in an RV
For sure, here’s what you need to know before you go RV camping in Banff.
Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Banff National Park. The closest airport is Calgary International. Therefore, to get to Banff National Park camping sites, book an RV rental in Calgary, and use the shorter Tran-Canada 1 highway or, the longer but more scenic Highway 1A route. Travel time is 1 and a half and 2 hours respectively.
Banff National Park has a subarctic climate. Generally, the summers are comfortable, winters are cold and snowy, and it’s partly cloudy year-round. July is the warmest month and January the coldest.
Best Time to Visit
Certainly, the best time for camping in Banff is in the summer months when the roads are clear, the ice has melted, and conditions are perfect for outdoor pursuits. In Banff, the warm season lasts for around 3 months, from June to mid-September.
Banff National Park Camping Attractions
What makes Banff National Park a worthy camping destination? Here are the top attractions this otherworldly place has to offer.
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the park has a skyline dominated by awe-inspiring peaks that are 45 to 120 million years old. The mountains help to support a thriving outdoor scene that includes hiking, backpacking, skiing, climbing, and mountain biking.
Below the snow-capped peaks are spectacularly colored blue lakes. These magical bodies saturate the landscape, and each one has unique activities, ranging from kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, fishing to ice skating, and even scuba diving. Without a doubt, the most stunning is Lake Louise.
Hiking and Biking Trails
Banff National Park has in excess of 1,000 miles of hiking trails. In addition, there’s an excellent biking trail system that beckons bikers of all levels.
The Park is also home to an impressive and diverse array of wildlife, including 50 species of mammals. Some popular trails can reveal bighorn sheep, caribou, moose, and elk. It’s also not uncommon to spot the grizzly bear, wolverine, and cougar.
Rich Cultural Heritage
The lands and waters of Banff National Park have been used by indigenous peoples for millennia. Hence, an indigenous-led tour or museum visit will offer another lens of seeing the true history of these lands.
If you prefer to soak in the sights from the comfort of your recreational vehicle, drive your RV through the Icefields Parkway. It’s 144 miles long, and meander through snow-capped summits, enchanting icefields, gorgeous lakes, thick larch forest, and sweeping valleys.
A visit to Banff is not complete without taking a dip or setting eyes on at least one of the hot springs found on Sulphur Mountain.
Best RV Campgrounds in Banff National Park
The best way to experience the beauty Banff has to offer is to slow down and park your RV in one of its campgrounds. Camping offers the most inexpensive way to stay in the park, soak in the phenomenal scenery, and get easy access to the region’s recreational pursuits.
Banff National Park is home to a variety of campgrounds that can accommodate your RVing and camping needs. Whether you prefer a front-country or backcountry site, there is a campground for you. Here are the best places to stay:
Waterfowl Lakes Campground
If you’re looking for a rustic place far removed from civilization, you’ll love Waterfowl Lakes Campground. It’s set in a forested area off the Icefields Parkway, about an hour north of Lake Louise. Furthermore, there are around 116 sites, all available on a first-come, first-served basis, and they fit rigs below 30 feet.
Also, amenities in the campground include; washrooms with hot running water, flush toilets, drinking water, picnic shelters, outdoor theater, and fire pits. For activities, you can hike to Chephren Lake to get a view of Mount Chephren and Cirque Lake, which has a stunning glacier view.
Tunnel Mountain Village I and II Campgrounds
Indeed, Tunnel Mountain Village I and II are some of the best RV campgrounds in Banff, Canada. Just a couple of miles from the town of Banff, they offer a wilderness feel without getting too far off the beaten path. Village 1 has 618 sites, all unserviced, while Village 2 has 188 sites, all with electricity, making it perfect for RVers who want to power up.
Importantly, common amenities in both campgrounds include washroom and shower facilities, potable water, disabled access, fire pits, cooking shelter, and dump stations. You can enjoy walking, biking, an outdoor theater, and evening interpretive programs in the summer. In addition, village 2 is open year-round.
Rampart Creek Campground
Without question, some of the best RV camping in Banff is found in Rampart Creek Campground. Tucked between woods and a river, this place offers an intimate experience for those who want to stay off the grid. It sits just off the Columbia Icefield, 90 miles from the town of Banff.
Precisely, Rampart Creek has 51 primitive sites that are reservable in the summer and fit rigs under 35 feet. Amenities include communal cook shelters with wood stoves, picnic tables, pit toilets, and drinking water. There are lots of lakes, hiking trails, and breathtaking views to experience.
Two Jack Main Campground
Next up for options while RV camping Banff National Park is Two Jack Main Campground. Situated on the scenic Minnewanka Loop, the spot feels slightly remote, yet it’s close enough to enjoy the amenities available in Banff.
This peaceful camping getaway features 380 pre-book sites that accommodate RVs up to 27 feet. Amenities include washroom facilities, potable water, fire pits, cooking shelter, and a sani-dump. And, it’s just a stone’s throw from Two Jack Lake, and the larger scenic Lake Minnewanka is just a short drive away.
Lake Louise Trailer Campground
Just a few minutes from town, Lake Louise campground is another great Banff National Park Camping location. Situated right on the Bow River, the spot offers 189 full-hookup sites that can accommodate RVs of all sizes as long as they are hard-sided.
Apart from water, electricity, and sewer service, this tranquil camping retreat also has flush toilets, hot showers, and fire pits. Moreover, it provides excellent proximity to the world-famous Lake Louise. Nearby, you’ll find Moraine Lakes and some incredible hikes.
Mosquito Creek Campground
Last but not least, Mosquito Creek Campground is another of the most charming Banff campgrounds. Quiet and secluded, it’s 83 km from the town of Banff, along Icefields Parkway, under the peaks of the Rockies. Actually, don’t let the name Mosquito Creek dissuade you–bugs here aren’t any worse than anywhere else in Banff.
This somewhat primitive campsite has 32 first-come, first-served sites, with amenities such as drinking water, picnic shelter, fire pits, and outhouse facilities. It’s a great base if you’re exploring sights on the Icefields Parkway. Or if you’re heading to Bow Lake or aiming to hike and view wildlife.
Banff National Park RV Camping Reservations, Passes, and Permits
How do I book a campground in Banff National Park? Banff camping reservations can be made online at Parks Canada’s official website: www.pccamping.ca. You can also make a reservation by dialing 1-877-737-3783 (1-877-RESERVE), a toll-free number.
To enter the park, you’ll need a national park pass. If you’re planning to spend a night anywhere in the park where bookings are required, purchase a camping permit in advance using the official Parks Canada site above.
For first-come-first-served campgrounds, you only register when you arrive—at the self-registration kiosk. Furthermore, you’ll need a fire permit if you want to build a campfire. It costs $9.25 per site per night.
Start Planning Your Banff National Park Camping Trip Today
It should be noted, lying in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park is an RV camping retreat unlike no other.
Indeed, the campgrounds in the area will put you smack in the middle of some of the most stunning lakes and mountain vistas in North America. Plus, it’s a getaway with immense recreational pursuits such as hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, rafting, and skiing.
Of course, an RV rental is the best way to see this part of the world without racking up big hotel bills. With a camper, you’ll enjoy the comforts of a home and have the freedom to roam wherever your mobile abode can take you.
Rent a camper in Banff today and kick off your trip!