Friday, May 09, 2014

Comfort Camping in Banff National Park

Imagine going camping with nothing but your sleeping bags, food, a stove and some dishes, maybe a lantern, add a couple lawn chairs, and of course your clothes.  The big thing missing though - the TENT.  Because it's taken care of for you.  And you won't be sleeping on the ground.  Instead, you'll be sleeping in complete luxury inside a heated, furnished A-frame cabin in real beds!  Welcome to comfort camping!!

Comfort Camping with Parks Canada (Photo:  Paul Zizka)

I talk to a lot of families about camping and these are some of the common complaints I hear about the popular summer activity:

  • It's too cold!  We could never sleep in a tent with a baby or toddler and stay warm in the Canadian Rockies where it could honestly snow any month of the year.

  • My wife/husband doesn't like sleeping on the ground and won't come with us.

  • My wife/husband hates camping and doesn't like the bugs, the potential for wet weather, the dirt, being uncomfortable... (the list goes on.)

  • We don't have a trailer and just don't want to sleep in a tent with the kids.  (And I'm pretty sure fear of bears ranks high here in terms of why people don't want to sleep in a tent.)

Do any of those reasons against camping resonate with you or your family?  Trust me, I get it! 

We upgraded to a trailer last year for some of the same reasons.  I was tired of sleeping on the ground and it wasn't comfortable anymore as my body got older.  I was afraid of rainy weather and didn't know what we'd do to entertain ourselves if it rained for a whole afternoon - and we were stuck with nothing but a tent.  And while I'm not terrified of bears, we still slept with bear spray in the vestibule of our tent - just in case.  (and worried a bit.)

Toasty Warm inside an O'TENTik cabin (Photo:  Paul Zizka)

Fortunately, Parks Canada is making it easier than ever for families to get out camping this summer with the addition of o'TENTiks at several of their campgrounds.  Here is the information you'll find on the tent cabins from the Parks Canada website:

"The oTENTik tent is a spacious blend of a tent and an A-frame cabin equipped with beds and furniture on a raised floor.  It Includes a table and seating area for 6 people and an electric heater. Please note: there is no plumbing or running water in the tents."

Parks Canada even simplifies the process further by giving you a packing list of what to bring:
"Sleeping bags, blankets and pillow, a water container, cooking equipment, dishes, eating utensils, a cooler, flashlights, matches or a lighter for the outdoor fire pit, camping chairs, and slippers or indoor shoes to help keep a clean oTENTik"

Our family is going to be trying our first o'TENTik experience in October this year at Two Jack Lakeside in Banff.  We chose to go in the cooler fall season because I wanted to see for myself just how luxurious it could be to camp in a comfort cabin when snow is almost falling on the ground. 

Call me crazy, but the beauty of comfort camping is that it greatly extends the camping season here beyond the summer months of June-August.  With an o'TENTik, you can easily camp as early as the May long weekend or camp through the beginning of October and you can rest assured that you'll be warm and cozy in your tent while sleeping.

Paddling on Two Jack Lake, Banff

If you want to book an o'TENTik for your family this summer, this is what you can expect at Two Jack Lakeside in Banff:

  • Sites along the lake shore with views of the mountains

  • Lighting and electricity, hot showers, indoor heat, outdoor fire pit, and BBQ

  • Plenty of room for families or groups up to six people

  • Two queen-sized beds and one double-sized bed - all with high density foam mattresses

  • A spacious living area with table and chairs of six people

View from an o'TENTik at Two Jack Lake  (Photo:  Meghan J. Ward)

Also, you'll be 15 minutes away from the town of Banff with paddling, biking, and hiking right from your doorstep.

Two Jack Lakeside Campground with o'TENTiks on the lake (Photo:  Meghan J. Ward)

For information on booking a site, visit the Parks Canada website  and book early!  As it is, most Friday and Saturday nights are already booked for this summer season.  There are still many nights available though if you are able to go mid-week and there are weekend availabilities in September which is a lovely time of year to camp in the Rockies.  For an easy way to find out when there are cabins available, go to the reservation site (link below) and check the availability calendar for your campground of choice.

To find more campgrounds with comfort camping, visit the Reservation site for Parks Canada, and choose Diversified Accommodations.  You can bring up all of the comfort sites across Canada on a map.  Albertans or tourists to Alberta will want to check out Jasper National Park or Kootenay National Park where you'll also find o'TENTiks.

Hiking in Jasper National Park

Stay tuned for more camping posts and stories from now until mid-October on this website.  To make sure you don't miss anything, enter your email address in the box on the right hand side of my site that says "follow by email."  You'll receive alerts when I post new stories.

Also, check out my camping boards on Pinterest for links to my stories as well as great resources I've pulled across the web:  CampingCamp CookingBest Campgrounds - CanadaFamily Camping Made Easy

And, for all things camping, please check out my Camping Super Guide (with links to every story I've written.)

Happy Camping!!  Let it begin!


  1. Sounds like just a step difference a KOA Kabin! Except it's maybe not 50 years old. I still like the tent, but I see how these could extend the season and prevent visits to the chiropractor.

    1. It's great for people without tents or for non-outdoorsy people scared to sleep in a tent. It should open doors to a lot of new campers. Very exciting. Thanks for your comment. I've never checked out a KOA cabin. We love cabins in the shoulder season (spring/fall) - warmer. :)

  2. What campsite # was this Otentik? I love the view!

    1. I can't remember the exact number but every otentik has a very similar view. They are all right on the water. This was one of the ones furthest to the left in the campground if you look on a map. Near a little inlet that comes in. Probably number 52 or 50.