Friday, October 10, 2014

Comfort Camping in Banff National Park - The Experience!

Earlier this summer I wrote a story about comfort camping in Banff and it's been extremely popular which makes me think a lot of you don't really like traditional tenting all that much.  And I don't blame you one bit.  We bought a trailer a couple years ago and I have not looked back.  For those without trailers though,  what are you going to do when autumn arrives and it drops below zero at night in the mountains?  You have two choices at this time of year:  Stop camping and stay at hotels, OR stay in a cozy cabin and call it "comfort camping."

Comfort Camping in Banff National Park

We recently had the opportunity to stay in one of the new o'TENTiks in Banff at Two Jack Lake and it was a great way to stay warm on a cool weekend.  Friday night was drizzly with light rain but we slept dry and toasty inside our tent-cabin which included a very warm heater.  (in fact, we had to turn it down the next night so that we could actually sleep under our blankets we'd brought.)

Home away from home in Banff National Park


I'm apologizing up front that my photos lack their usual clarity but it wasn't exactly a photographer's dream weekend.  However, that made us appreciate sleeping inside the o'TENTik even more!  These cabins were made for cool weekends, rainy days, and the spring/fall season when you need a little more comfort.

The View from our o'TENTik at Two Jack Lake

5 Reasons to Stay in an o'TENTik at Two Jack Lake


1.  Warmth!  As mentioned above, the cabins come equipped with heaters and are toasty warm on cool evenings in the Rockies.  (and it can be chilly at night even in the middle of August!)

The inside of our o'TENTik

2.  No sleeping on the ground.  Each cabin comes equipped with 2 queen sized foam mattresses on a large platform at the back of the one-room shelter.  There is also a second platform above for kids who like sleeping on the top bunk.  We did not let the kids sleep up there though because the railing didn't go all the way across and we knew one of them would fall out!  My suggestion for Parks Canada would be to extend the railings at the top.  While the top bed is supposed to be a double bed, there's no way I'd share that small space with anybody for fear of rolling off in the night. Add a full railing on both sides though, and two small kids could easily share the space. 

Our cabin was perfect for three adults and two kids

The Kids LOVED the Tent Cabin
3.   Less gear required.  If you are visiting the Rockies on vacation and don't have camping gear, staying in an o'TENTik will help you save on equipment you'd normally have to buy.  While you'll still need to bring sleeping bags or blankets, you at least save on having to bring mattresses.  Each cabin also includes a barbecue so you can grab some steaks and salad in town with paper plates, plastic utensils, and some drinks for an easy meal without eating out.


4.  The best camping real estate in Banff.  Most campgrounds in Banff do not have lake front views or private beach areas.  Meanwhile, many of the o'TENTiks are situated just a few metres away from the lakeshore of scenic Two Jack Lake.  We brought boats and were able to leave them at the water's edge all weekend for easy-access paddling.  This would be great on a hot summer weekend!

Paddling right out the door from our o'TENTik

5.  Location, location, location.  Two Jack Lake offers lakeside camping within a short ten-minute drive from downtown Banff.  Location doesn't get any better than that!  Camp at Two Jack Lakeside Campground and head into Banff for breakfast or dinner if you don't want to spend the weekend cooking.  And while at camp, you can spend your time paddling, biking, or enjoying your private fire pit located right outside the door of your o'TENTik. 

Biking along the lakeside trail at Two Jack Lake

Would we stay here again?


This is always the question that people want to know after we've stayed somewhere and it's a mixed answer in this case.  Yes, we would stay at Two Jack Lakeside Campground and I've already scoped out the exact site I want for next summer!  I love this campground and it's fast becoming my favourite in all of Banff National Park.

View of our o'TENTik at Two Jack Lake from our kayak

Staying in an o'TENTik though isn't really necessary for our family.  Being that we already have a warm trailer, we're not really the target audience for comfort camping.  If however, we were tenters, I'd say that yes, we would definitely stay in one of the o'TENTiks again!  And often.  The experience was just so much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground in a tent. 

View from our o'TENTik at Two Jack Lake

We very much enjoyed our experience staying in an o'TENTik and I highly recommend the cozy cabins to all tourists and locals alike who wish for a more comfortable tenting experience.

Paddling in the morning on Two Jack Lake in Banff

Things to know before going into the experience


Before you go to make a booking at an o'TENTik, know these few things:
  • You can reserve your site 3 months in advance and bookings can be made by phone or online at the Parks Reservation Site.  (the reservation type is diversified camping.) If you want to stay in one of these tent cabins, you should book early!  They were full most of the summer 2014 season and will be even more popular next year.
  • Other than sleeping platforms, mattresses, and a bbq, you must bring everything with you.  This is comfort camping and not equipped camping.  For information on equipped camping, call Parks Canada and talk directly with a staff member. 
  • You can not eat or drink anything inside the o'TENTik.  This means that if it is raining, you will still have to cook or eat outside.  While this situation is certainly not ideal, you really don't want to have anything inside your o'TENTik with a scent because the walls are made of canvas and you are in bear country.
Our canvas-walled cabin at Two Jack Lake

For more information:


First, read the story I wrote this spring:  Comfort Camping in Banff National Park .  Second, you can find out more information on the Parks Canada Website. For information on all kinds of camping in Banff, visit this link to the Banff National Park website.


Paddling on Two Jack Lake

Disclaimer:  Our stay was taken care of by Banff National Park in order to write this review.  As always, all thoughts, opinions, and words are my own and I wasn't compensated beyond the stay.

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