Without further introduction, below are the best places to camp in (or near) Alberta's mountain parks.
|Camping in Waterton Lakes National Park|
Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lakes has to be one of our favourite places to go camping and it's an easy drive of under 3 hours. Go for a long weekend and make sure to read the following stories as you plan out your trip:
Camping in Waterton Lakes National Park
Family Fun in Waterton Lakes National Park
Paddling in Waterton Lakes National Park
Ten Awesome Things to Do with Kids in Waterton Lakes National Park
|Hiking at the Waterton Springs Campground|
Our favourite campground in Waterton is the private Waterton Springs Campground. Reservations are accepted starting May 1st each year by phone call. The campground is located just outside the park gates and we stay here because it's a quiet little retreat outside the tourist zone that is Waterton. We also love hiking in the nature reserve above the campground.
|Biking the Kootenai Brown Trail in Waterton Lakes National Park|
Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park
This is our favourite place to camp in Banff National Park and probably the best campground located within an hour's drive from the Calgary city limits. The campground you want to stay at is called Two Jack Lakeside (not Two Jack Main) and it offers premier lakeside campsites for those on the ball early enough to book the best sites.
|Paddling on Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park|
What's to love about Two Jack Lakeside:
- Lakeside camping
- Walk-in tenting at lakeside sites
- Warm heated bathrooms with showers
- Comfort camping in O'TENTiks
- Close to the town of Banff
- Family-friendly paddling on Two Jack Lake
|Canoeing on Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park|
To read more on this campground, read my story: Banff Campground Review - The Good, the Bad, and the Awesome.
For more information on Comfort Camping at Two Jack Lake, read Comfort Camping in Banff National Park and Comfort Camping in Banff - the Experience.
The reservation date for Banff campsites this year is April 2nd and you can book for the whole summer. More information can be found here on the Parks Canada website.
|Lakeside site and O'TENTik at Two Jack Lake in Banff|
Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds, Banff National Park
These aren't the most scenic, remote, or private of campgrounds. What you're getting here though is convenience (camping right in the town of Banff,) serviced sites with power if you desire this amenity, and enough space for a large RV if that's what you bring camping.
There are three campgrounds on Tunnel Mountain and The Village I campground is where tenters or families with small trailers will want to be. It's the most natural of the campgrounds and you will not be camped on pavement. At Village II you'll be camping on pavement but you'll also have power for your trailer or RV (great for chilly spring camping.) Finally, the Tunnel Mountain Trailer campground is where you'll find space for a large RV or motorhome with service at every site.
|Camping at Tunnel Mt. Village II|
For our family, the main reason to camp on Tunnel Mountain is for the mountain biking. The Tunnel Campground loop goes around the three campgrounds and is a great intro to children wanting to learn to bike off pavement. It's a great family ride with compact gravel and dirt. It's also wide enough for parents pulling Chariots.
|Mountain biking on Tunnel Mountain, Banff|
There are also dozens of other mountain bike trails on Tunnel Mountain for riders of all abilities. We are working on the intermediate Tunnel Bench Loop and have done about 50% of it. We hope to finish it this year.
More information on biking in Banff can be found here on the Banff NP website.
I've also written about biking in Banff here:
The Best Family Bike Trails in Banff National Park
Mountain Biking the Tunnel Bench Loop in Banff with Kids.
|Trying to conquer the Tunnel Bench Loop|
For more information on camping at Tunnel Mountain, visit the Banff NP website or read my story: Banff Campground Review - The Good, the Bad, and the Awesome.
Reservations follow the same process as for Two Jack Lakeside above and can be made on April 2nd this year.
|The bike trails are why you camp on Tunnel Mountain in Banff|
The Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks
There's no "one" campground here that is best. All of the campgrounds along the scenic Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper are awesome. They are primitive (so don't expect showers,) and most of them don't accept reservations (so aim for camping mid-week during summer peak season,) but this is premier camping in Banff with views to die for.
|Scenery of the Athabasca Glacier from the Wilcox Pass Hiking Trail, Icefields Parkway|
If I were to pick my favourite campground along this scenic highway, I would choose Mosquito Creek. It's located close to Bow Lake for hiking and paddling, close to Bow Summit and Peyto Lake (for more hiking and classic tourist views,) and it's only a half hour drive from Lake Louise.
|Bow Lake on the Icefields Parkway|
For more information on the Icefields Parkway, visit this link to the Jasper National Park website. A map can be viewed here and information on camping can be viewed at the Banff National Park website or the Jasper NP website.
Campground choices on the Parkway:
Mosquito Creek, Silverhorn Creek, Waterfowl Lakes or Rampart Creek - Banff
And most of the campgrounds listed for Jasper are located on the Icefields Parkway. (exceptions, Pocahontas and Snaring River)
|Hiking on Parker Ridge, Icefields Parkway|
Top Attractions on the Icefields Parkway for Families:
- Glacier Adventure and Snow coach Tour on the Athabasca Glacier
- Glacier Skywalk Tour, Columbia Icefields Centre
- Peyto Lake Viewpoint at Bow Summit
- Bow Lake, hike around the lake or just take in the views from the parking area
- Parker Ridge Hike
- Wilcox Pass Hike
- Athabasca Falls, Jasper
|The Majestic Icefields Parkway from Bow Summit|
Experiencing Awesome in Jasper National Park
Tots on Ice (our glacier tour experience)
|Glacier Skywalk Tour in Jasper National Park|
Jasper National Park
After exploring the Icefields Parkway, you should definitely continue on to the town of Jasper and camp nearby for a few nights at least. Our favourite campground is the Wapiti Campground because it's at the end of the Wapiti bike trail and we can bike to town and back from camp.
The other popular campground is Whistlers which offers comfort camping and proximity to the Jasper Tramway. You really can't go wrong with either campground and they both offer serviced sites if you have a trailer or RV and want power.
|Hiking up Whistler's Mountain in Jasper|
Top attractions and Activities in Jasper for Families:
- Athabasca Falls
- Maligne Canyon
- Jasper Tramway and hike up Whistler's Mountain
- Maligne Lake Boat Tour to Spirit Island
- Pyramid Lake (short walk on a small island)
- Biking the amazing network of family-friendly trails around Jasper
- Hiking at Mount Edith Cavell
|Paddling on Pyramid Lake, Jasper|
Experiencing Awesome in Jasper National Park
Family-friendly Summits in Jasper National Park
The Best Family Bike Trails in Jasper
|Biking along the Athabasca River in Jasper|
For more information on Jasper, visit the Jasper NP website or Tourism Jasper website.
Campsites in Jasper can be booked for the whole summer season as of April 1st this year. More information is on the Parks Canada website.
|My beautiful Jasper as seen from Whistler's Mountain|
Questions? Missed your favourite campground? Leave a comment below.
All information on booking these great campgrounds can be found HERE.