Canadian Rockies Campgrounds – Reservable Front Country Reviews

Wilcox Pass Tarn
Wilcox Pass is just one of the amazing day hikes to be found in the Canadian Rockies.

So you want to plan a trip into the beautiful Canadian Rockies. There is no shortage of amazing beauty be found in this amazing mountain chain, but what campground do you stay in? We suggest being prepared and reserving some National Park campsites ahead of time so you can enjoy your stay instead of risking looking for a spot when you get there. Getting a reservation does take some effort as most of these Canadian Rockies campgrounds fill up within the first few weeks of January each year. We’ll focus on what your campgrounds options are in this post but also click here for our planning guide to the Canadian Rockies complete with dates and deadlines for acquiring all your reservations.

Reservable Canadian Rockies Campgrounds

Canadian Rockies Campground Two Jack Lakeside
This is our site at the Two Jack Lakeside Campground which is one of our favorite front-country Canadian Rockies campgrounds.

Canadian Rockies National Parks

There are seven Canadian Rockies National Parks that spread out over a distance of more than 400 miles. All of them have first-come, first-served campgrounds, but given how busy these areas are during the short summer season we highly recommend grabbing a reservation on the day they become available in January. Out of the seven Canadian Rockies National Parks, there are five with reservable campgrounds: Waterton, Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, & Jasper. Many of these parks have multiple campgrounds within each that can be reserved. We have stayed in almost every one of them and below is the info you need to know about each one.

What You Need to Know to Stay in Any of the Reservable Canadian Rockies Campgrounds

Canadian National Park Discovery Pass
The annual discovery pass allows access to all the Canadian National Parks for an entire year from the month of purchase.
  • A National Park Pass is required for camping in any of the Canadian Rockies National Park campgrounds. To get a multi-day pass or annual pass, you can purchase one at any Canadian National Park entrance gate.
  • Fire permits are required in each of the Canadian Rockies campgrounds to have a campfire at your campsite. As of summer 2019, the cost was $8.80 per night. An unlimited amount of firewood is provided; no scavenging is allowed.
  • Reservations: Every year, all of the reservable front country camping in the five Canadian Rockies National Parks become available on January 1st. Create a login account before January 1st to be ready for the rat race when sites become available.
    • Note: If you reserve consecutive nights within the same park during one login session, even if the sites are at different campgrounds, you are only charged one reservation fee. The exception is Banff which will group the southern campgrounds or the northern campgrounds (Lake Louise Area) but not a mix of the two.
  • Boondocking (free-camping) within the parks is not allowed. There are some adjacent areas that we found to boondock and we have those listed below.

First-Come, First Served Canadian Rockies Campgrounds

While the information found on this page is to help educate about the reservable campgrounds in the Canadian Rockies’ National Parks there are also many first-come, first-served sites available. If you miss the reservation window you can still visit this amazing natural playground. However, our recommendation would be to plan on arriving at the campground of your choice between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM to grab your first-come, first-served campsite and securing it for the entire duration you plan to be in the area.

Waterton Lakes National Park Campground

Townsite Campground

  • Number of Sites: 237
  • Amenities: Full Hook-ups, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, Electricity & Cell Service
  • Most Sites are Reservable
Waterton Lakes Baby Deer
The Townsite Campground may feel a bit urban at times but the wildlife owns the place. This fawn actually fell asleep underneath our camper.

Unfortunately, the Townsite campground feels like a large, busy campground. The sites are exposed with very little tree cover. Luckily it is a short walk to get back into the wilderness. On the plus side, the bathrooms and showers are some of the nicest we have come across in our travels. Wildlife is abundant in Waterton Lakes National Park and the campground is no exception. The fire that swept through in 2017 definitely changed the landscape but it is a natural process that will give way to new life over time. This campground is one of the few in the Canadian National Park system capable of accommodating larger RVs.

Cell Coverage: Verizon (Telus) and T-mobile (Bell) are great and this makes a very good and scenic location to work as a full-time nomad.

Banff National Park Campgrounds

Tunnel Mountain Village I Campground

  • Number of Sites: 618
  • Amenities: Public Bus Stop, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, & Cell Service
  • All Sites are Reservable
Tunnel Mountain Village I Bus Stop
Most of the Campgrounds in Banff National Park are linked to the town of Banff, the major sites and trailheads through the Roam Public Transit bus system. Rides from the campground are free and the fair back is only $2 CAD (As of 2019).

Tunnel Mountain Village I is a very nice forested campground option near the town of Banff. The campground is well laid out so that each campsite has trees for privacy. The campground does not have electric hookups available, but with centralized toilets in each loop complete with two showers and bear boxes, this is a great spot to camp, explore Banff, and see wildlife. Our site had a resident albino squirrel and we were also visited by an elk. The park employee who checked us in told us that a bear had been spotted several times over the previous weeks. The campground also has a centralized public bus stop that allows for easy access to town.

The only issue we had with our entire experience in Tunnel Mountain Village I was how long it took to be checked in. We arrived at 8:00 o’clock in the evening and it took nearly 30 minutes for us to wait our turn in the queue. Because of the attendant’s total lack of urgency in her job we quickly realized the reason why it took so long to get through the line.

Cell Coverage: Verizon (Telus) 1-bar LTE. T-mobile (Bell) 1-bar LTE. The WeBoost really helped shore up the signal. The Banff library also has very good access speeds.

Tunnel Mountain Village II Campground

  • Number of Sites: 209
  • Amenities: Public Bus Stop, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, Electricity & Cell Service.
  • All Sites are Reservable
  • oTENTik available (Glamping)
Tunnel Mountain Village II - Canadian Rockies Campgrounds
Tunnel Mountain Village II feels a bit like a parking lot but the views of the surrounding mountains make this an amazing campground in the Canadian Rockies.

Tunnel Mountain Village 2 unlike Village 1 feels crowded and urban. However, even in the midst of this parking lot vibe it still has amazing mountain views and the wildlife regularly meander through. The grounds have lots of toilet facilities but only 1 shower house so the walk to the showers can be long, especially given that the campground has fenced off some of the green space with no passages except via the roads. If you are looking for traditional camping in the woods pick pretty much any other campground in the park. If you travel in a gigantic RV then this is this place for you as it is one of the few amongst the Canadian Rockies Campgrounds that can accommodate any size.

Cell Coverage: Verizon (Telus) 2-bars LTE , T-mobile (Bell) 3-bars. The WeBoost really helped shore up the signal to make this a great place to work.

Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court Campground

  • Number of Sites: 322
  • Amenities: Public Bus Stop, Full Hook-ups, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, Electricity & Cell Service
  • All Sites are Reservable

The Trailer Court is designed for travelers with pull-behind campers. Each campsite is accessed through a small half circle pull-out so while this campground is designed for larger RVs and campers it doesn’t feel as urban as the adjacent Village II Campground. Each site has tree cover and each loop has centralized toilet facilities complete with showers in each. The Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court Campground is one of the few campgrounds in the main Canadian Rockies National Park’s corridor with Full-Hook-ups available. While 322 sites may seem large, this campground is usually one of the first to fill up.

Cell Coverage: Verizon 2-bars LTE (through Telus), T-mobile 2-bars LTE (through Bell). We recommend having a cellular booster like the WeBoost if you want to watch Netflix or get work done during your stay.

Two Jack Lakeside Campground

  • Number of Sites: 74
  • Amenities: Public Bus Stop, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, & Showers
  • All Sites are Reservable
  • oTENTik available (Glamping)
Two Jack Lake
The Two Jack Lakeside Campground is one of our favorite Canadian Rockies Campgrounds as the sites back up to this gorgeous lake.

One of our favorite front country campgrounds in the Canadian Rockies. An absolutely gorgeous campground but this is no secret. The Lakeside campground sells out almost immediately when the reservations become available at the beginning of the year. Flush toilets and showers are old and dated but at least they have them. The views of the lake from the edge of the campground are simply stunning and the reason to stay here. I highly recommend this campground.

Cell Coverage: Verizon 1-bar LTE (Telus), T-mobile 1-bar LTE (Bell). We needed the WeBoost to make these connections viable for basic access.

Two Jack Main Campground

  • Number of Sites: 380
  • Amenities: Public Bus Stop, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Cell Service
  • All Sites are Reservable

We did not stay in the Two Jack Main Campground. It is located across the road from the Lakeside Campground and by all accounts is a very nice campground, but Lakeside is the place to stay if you reserve early.

Cell Coverage: Unknown but others report better connectivity then at the Lakeside Campground.

Johnston Canyon Campground

  • Number of Sites: 132
  • Amenities: Public Bus Stop, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, & Cell Service
  • All Sites are Reservable

While Johnston Canyon was closed for renovations during the 2019 season this campground does have toilets and shower facilities available. It is also close enough to Banff that it does have cell service as well. However, it is more removed from the hustle and bustle of the town of Banff than other reservable campgrounds in Banff National Park. It is also located at the trailhead of the very popular Johnston Canyon so don’t expect it to feel too remote.

Cell Coverage: Verizon and T-mobile both had 2-bars of LTE at the entrance.

Lake Louise Tent Campground

  • Number of Sites: 206
  • Amenities: Public Bus Stop, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, & Showers
  • All Sites are Reservable
Lake Louise Shower House - Canadian Rockies Campgrounds
The Lake Louise Tent Campground has one of the nicest shower houses to be found in any of the Canadian Rockies Campgrounds.

If any part of your rig isn’t solid (i.e. a popup) like ours then you are required to stay in the tent area that is guarded by an electric fence. The benefit is that other than the fence surrounding the grounds this area feels like you are camping in the woods with lots of foliage covering the area. The downside here, like most Banff campgrounds, is that there is only 1 shower house. While it is very nice it can be a long walk from your campsite. 

Cell Coverage: Verizon 2-bars LTE (through Telus), T-mobile 2-bars LTE (through Bell). Neither one would run a successful speed test as the towers were overloaded and slow. If you are a digital nomad like us, find another spot closer to Banff as all of Lake Louise towers are too slow for useful data.

Lake Louise Trailer Campground

  • Number of Sites: 189
  • Amenities: Public Bus Stop, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, & Electricity
  • All Sites are Reservable
Exploring Lake Louise
The Lake Louise Campground is a great place to set up basecamp for exploring the amazing hikes found in the area including the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. Lake Louise can be seen in the image through the break in the clouds.

As stated above, we were required to stay on the tent side of the campground because of the soft sides on our truck camper. We did drive through the Trailer side of the campground and it is much more open and starts to feel a bit like a parking lot. It would be adequate for accommodating most gigantic RVs.

Cell Coverage: Limited. While a signal can be acquired it is useless for anything more than text messaging.

Rampart Creek Campground

  • Number of Sites: 50
  • Amenities: Pit Toilets & Potable Water
  • Most Sites are Reservable, Some First-Come, First-Served
Saskatchewan River
The Saskatchewan River from the Rampart Creek Campground.

While this is a campground that is best reserved ahead of time it does have a few first-come, first-served sites. Some of the sites back up to the Saskatchewan River which is beautiful. Bear boxes and pit toilets are centralized and the facilities are kept clean. The campground is well laid out in a dense healthy forest so it doesn’t feel crowded at all. Its location on the far north end of Banff National Park makes it a great base camp for exploring the Icefield Parkway and venturing into Jasper National Park.

Cell Coverage: Non-existent for nearly 40-miles in any direction.

Abraham Lake (Boondocking “Near” Banff Park)

  • Number of Sites: Approximately 20
  • Amenities: Pit Toilet & Cell Service
Abraham Lake - Canadian Rockies Campgrounds
For self-contained rigs, camping doesn’t get much better than on the shores of Abraham Lake. Did we mention that it is FREE?!

While not reservable or in the national parks, Abraham Lake is a beautiful camping location on the edge of the beautiful turquoise reservoir—and it is free! The location is about 30 miles east of Banff National Park’s northern gate so it is a bit of a commute for exploring the parks. There is no cell coverage until you get to this spot on the far eastern edge of the lake so make sure you know where you are going before you set off. Gas is also sparse in this part of the world. The campground has two pit toilets but no other amenities to speak off. The campsites aren’t defined. The campground can be busy but there always seems to be some space available. This was one of our favorite sites amongst the Canadian Rockies Campgrounds.

Cell Coverage: Verizon (Telus) 2-bars LTE. T-mobile (Bell) 2-bars LTE. The WeBoost really helped shore up the signal to make this a viable place to work as it’s located on the edge of the service area. 

Kootenay National Park Campgrounds

Redstreak Campground

  • Number of Sites: 242
    Amenities: Full Hook-up, Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, Electricity & Cell Service
  • All Sites are Reservable
  • oTENTik available (Glamping)
Radium Hot Springs
The town of Radium Hot Springs as seen from the road leading to the Redstreak Campground. Radium is more laid back than most of the towns near the parks.

Redstreak is a forested campground with hiking trails to the hot springs as well as the town of Radium Hot Springs. We loved our 2 nights in this quiet campground. Easy access to centralized toilets and showers in the E-loop. Although we arrived at a long check-in line the attendants streamlined the process and we were through within a few minutes. The access road is a paved steep road that our truck was able to climb easily. However, we rode our bikes into town and on the climb back we regretted that decision. The town has a laid-back atmosphere about it that made it one of our favorites in the Canadian Rockies. The library is also very modern with fast high-speed internet. 

Cell Coverage: Verizon (Telus) 1-bar LTE. T-mobile (Bell) 2-bars LTE. The WeBoost really helped shore up the signal to make this a viable area to work. The beautiful library in town also has good access speeds. Free wifi can also be found at the nearby visitor center.

Marble Canyon Campground

  • Number of Sites: 61
  • Amenities: Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water
  • Most Sites are Reservable, Some First-Come, First-Served
Stanley Glacier Trail Overlook
Jennifer stands at the terminus of the Stanley Glacier Trail overlooking the Rocky Mountain landscape carved out by the ice.

We did not stay in the Marble Canyon Campground as the reviews were harsh and cell service wasn’t available. It is in a good location for many popular hiking trails including the great Stanley Glacier Trail.

Cell Coverage: None

McLeod Meadows Campground

  • Number of Sites: 80
  • Amenities: Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water
  • Most Sites are Reservable, Some First-Come, First-Served

McLeod Meadows Campground is one of the few reservable campsites we did not stay in. The lack of cell service kept us away. Reviews on the campground are negative. It supposedly has tight spaces that are hard to get into and the toilet facilities are dated.

Cell Coverage: None

Yoho National Park Campgrounds

Kicking Horse Campground

  • Number of Sites: 88
  • Amenities: Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, & Cell Service
  • Most Sites are Reservable, Some First-Come, First-Served
Kicking Horse - Canadian Rockies Campgrounds
The Kicking Horse Campground has a good mixture of campsites in the trees as well as ones in the open allowing for good views of the surrounding mountains.

A beautiful campground surrounded by the high peaks of Yoho National Park. The site we stayed in was in an open field with no privacy, but with a lack of trees the mountains were in full view. The bathrooms are dated but functional and when we were there (summer 2019) the single shower house wasn’t available. It was being remodeled. The entire campground has the Yoho River running by on the northern side. This was a raging torrent in early August. The Kicking Horse Campground would have been one of our favorite campgrounds had the showers been available.

Cell Coverage: Coverage in the campground is surprisingly good. We only had 1-bar LTE (Verizon and T-Mobile) but with the WeBoost turned on we had ample speed to get some work done and watch Netflix when we weren’t exploring the local trails.

Monarch Campground

  • Number of Sites: 44
  • Amenities: Dump Station, Pit Toilet, Potable Water, & Cell Service
  • Most Sites are Reservable, Some First-Come, First-Served

We did not stay in the Monarch Campground but it is located adjacent to the Kicking Horse Campground. It is also located very close to the very noise Trans Canada Highway. If sites are available, reserve a site at Kicking Horse, but if that campground is sold-out out then Monarch would be a good second choice. Although if you don’t need cell service, don’t mind a short walk, and can get there fairly early plan a stay at the Takakkaw Campground (first-come, first-served) as it is very beautiful.

Cell Coverage: We did a speed test at the entrance to the Monarch campground and both Verizon and T-mobile had some of the fastest speeds in the Canadian Rockies.

Jasper National Park

Wabasso Campground

Cavell Lake
Mount Edith Cavell as seen from the often-overlooked but easily accessed Cavell Lake.
  • Number of Sites: 231
  • Amenities: Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Electricity & Cell Service
  • All Sites are Reservable

We stayed in both the A-loop (unpowered) and the D-loop (powered). The campsites in both areas of the campground were well spaced out with ample elbow room between the sites. We had a great and quick check-in. The campground is adjacent to the Athabasca River and a lot of the sites on the east side, especially in the C-loop, back up to it so that the water can be seen and heard. There is a great walking path between the river and the campground which is an easy stroll. The Wabasso Campground makes an excellent base for exploring the Mount Edith Cavell area as well as the Athabasca Falls area. The campground has recycling options, clean bathrooms, and ample centralized water spigots in each loop. The only downside is that like many of the Jasper campgrounds this one has no shower facilities making it unsuitable for long stays.

Cell Coverage: Cell phone reception was good with 2-bars LTE on both Verizon and T-mobile with decent speeds. Once again the WeBoost doubled the speeds and made the data speeds reliable and fast enough to get work done during our stay.

Wapiti Campground

  • Number of Sites: 364
  • Amenities: Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, Electricity & Cell Service
  • All Sites are Reservable
Wapiti Campground - Canadian Rockies Campgrounds
This bull elk had his run of the Wapiti Campground herding his harem directly through our site. We didn’t mind the company.

The location of the Wapiti Campground is nice with relatively close access to the town of Jasper. Wapiti, which means “white rump,” refers to the backside of an elk. Appropriately, we saw elk almost daily when we were here in August and September. Sometimes the elk walked directly through our campsite, which was awesome! The campground has a central dump station, with fresh water to refill your tanks, and there are many centrally located restrooms throughout the massive campground. Several loops are equipped with power hook-ups as well indicated with a double letter like AA and FF. 

The campground has lots of dead trees that when the wind gets blowing kept me up at night worrying one would come through the roof. Both shower houses are frustrating as they are push-button (short intervals) with no temperature control. The showerheads found at the shower house near the main entrance are set at less than six feet high. The heads are also fixed in a nearly vertical spray straight down the wall. So in order to get a shower, one must rake their body up against the wall… disgusting! The other shower house in the AA-loop has no parking available. The showerheads are mounted higher and fixed as well but adequately tilted. Don’t expect a good shower here either though as the hot water heater appears to be incapable of maintaining an even temperature. I nearly froze and my wife was scalded.

Cell Coverage: 3-bars LTE on T-mobile and Verizon, both connect through Bell.

Whistlers Campground

  • Number of Sites: 365
  • Amenities: Dump Station, Flush Toilets, Potable Water, Showers, Electricity & Cell Service
  • All Sites are Reservable
Signal Mountain Viewpoint
The town of Jasper from Signal Mountain.

The massive Whistler Campground in Jasper was closed for renovations (read “a total rebuild”) during the 2019 season. While we didn’t stay here I can say with confidence that this will be the place to stay in Jasper National Park for those seeking modern amenities starting in 2020. The campground was leveled of everything including the massive amounts of dead trees plaguing the Wapiti Campground on the other side of the road. The roads are being widened and 17 washrooms complete with showers are being installed. There are rumors that the renovations are behind schedule and that it may be 2021 before this campground is available.

Cell Coverage: Really good cellular coverage in the area. 3-bars LTE on Verizon and T-mobile through Bell.

Pocahontas Campground

  • Number of Sites: 140
  • Amenities: Flush Toilets & Potable Water
  • All Sites are Reservable
Pocahontas Restroom - Canadian Rockies Campgrounds
One of the restroom buildings in the Pocahontas Campground. The port-o-john is used when the facilities are being cleaned.

The Pocahontas Campground is well laid out so that campers don’t feel overly close to one another. While lacking showers, the restroom facilities are very clean and modern with running water. Potable water is available but there is no dump station. Our campsite, C29, was flat and had dense tree cover. Most sites have substantial healthy tree cover which is hard to find in the Jasper campgrounds as most have been ravaged by the pine beetles.  Most of the pull-in sites are small to medium-sized and are not flat.

Cell Coverage: There is no cell coverage in the campground itself but can be obtained closer to the main road a few miles away.

Walmart or Freson Bros in Hinton (Boondocking “Near” Jasper)

Hinton Beaver
The beaver is the icon for the Candian National Parks. We didn’t see a beaver inside the parks but we did find this one at the aptly named Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton.
  • Number of Sites: 2 Consumer Parking Lots
  • Amenities: Cell Service

While the town of Banff is expensive it has got nothing on Jasper. The grocery store, laundromat, gas stations, and pretty much everything else in Jasper had the highest prices we found while journeying through the Canadian Rockies. Luckily, the town of Hinton is located about 40-miles to the east of the town of Jasper. There is a Walmart located on the western edge of Hinton with their usual great prices on groceries but they don’t have fresh food.

To find fresh fruits, vegetables and meat check out the Safeway store located adjacent to the Walmart or head down the road about a mile further into town to the large Freson Bros store. We found that Freson had some of the best prices on meat, chicken, sausages, and fish in the area.

The best part is that both Walmart and Freson Bros welcome travelers to boondock in their parking lots for a night. Visitors can save money by making the journey to resupply in Hinton instead of Jasper and get a free night’s stay.

Cell Coverage: The entire town of Hinton has great cellular speeds although we did use our WeBoost in the Walmart parking lot to sure up the signal. The local library also has fast free wifi.

Canadian Rockies Campgrounds Conclusion

Canadian Rockies Campgrounds
Share this image on your Pinterest boards.

While a reservation in a Canadian Rockies Campground isn’t required to enjoy a stay in the many gorgeous National Parks, we recommend getting them to ease the stress of finding a place to camp each night. The amenities and quality of the campgrounds vary greatly but the reservable campgrounds are often the best for exploring the areas closer to the major attractions. The reservable campgrounds are also the only places to find cell service amongst the parks’ many campsites.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Vicky says:

    Awesome details in this post.
    What is really cool is seeing the elk, knowing you were only two feet away taking his picture. In the background is my daughter who was on a FaceTime call describing your abilities to get so close to nature. What an adventure you two are on.

    1. NomadicMoments says:

      That Elk was in heat so I wasn’t that close 🙂 I had a long lens on for sure. I do love the days when nature comes to us.

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