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Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93 North, runs from Lake Louise to Jasper for 232 spectacular kilometres passing through Banff and Jasper National Parks. With 11 campgrounds along the parkway, it’s easy to slow down and explore the region.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Explore a spectacular landscape along the Icefields Parkway

Here’s what you need to know about the Icefields Parkway campgrounds.

There is no cellphone coverage along the parkway but campgrounds have pay phones.

Mosquito Creek Campground, Banff National Park

Location: 24 kilometres north of Lake Louise.

Open: June 1 – October 10, 2016.

Facilities: 32 sites with a cooking shelter. No power, electricity or flush toilets.

Pluses/Minuses: Campsites are wooded and private. Despite the name the mosquitoes are no worse than anywhere else. Nice areas around the river. Try for campsite #1. Some highway noise.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Campsite #1 is the best of the 32 sites – if you ask me

Silverhorn Creek Campground, Banff National Park

Location: Approximately 50 kilometres north of Lake Louise.

Open: June 24 – September 5, 2016.

Facilities: 67 sites with many walk-in tent sites. No running water. There is a bear pole and bear locker for walk-ins.

Pluses/Minuses: Very private, beautiful walk-in tent only campsites. No highway noise anywhere. Lots of picnic tables. Great birding. My favourite.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Very private walk-in campsites at Silverhorn Creek

Waterfowl Lake Campground, Banff National Park

Location: 60 kilometres north of Lake Louise.

Open: June 24 – September 5, 2016.

Facilities: 116 sites; no special tent-only sites

Pluses/Minuses: Great hiking trails from the campground. The lakes are beautiful with excellent views. Small amount of highway noise. Excellent choice.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Fantatsic views from Waterfowl Lakes

Rampart Creek Campground

Location: 88 kilometres north of Lake Louise.

Open: June 1 – October 10, 2016.

Facilities: 50 sites with food lockers for walk-in campers. No picnic shelters.

Pluses/Minuses: Private campsites. Reportedly the worst mosquitoes – according to a park employee

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

The Rampart Creek Campground has some good views

Wilcox Creek Campground, Jasper National Park

Location: 107.5 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite, just past the trailhead for the Wilcox Pass hike. It’s only three kilometres south of the Icefields Centre.

Open: June 3 – September 25, 2016. Winter camping IS ALLOWED at the Wilcox Pass Trailhead but there is no water or maintenance provided. You are encouraged to bring a shovel.

Facilities: 46 sites but no tent only areas, four cooking shelters, five dry toilets, one bear-proof storage locker. No power, electricity or flush toilets.

Pluses/Minuses: Private campsites. No real views. Highway noise.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Standard campsite with decent privacy at the Wilcox Creek Campground

Columbia Icefields Campground, Jasper National Park

Location: 106 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite. It’s only a kilometre south of the Icefields Centre.

Open: May 20 – October 10, 2016.

Facilities: 31 sites – tents only. There are also walk-in campsites that are very private. Two cooking shelters, three dry toilets, bear-proof storage lockers. Rustic – in a good way. No power, electricity or flush toilets.

Pluses/Minuses: Walk-in campsites are very private. Some views if you get a lower campsite on the road plus they have more privacy. Campsites are crowded at the top of the loop. Some highway noise.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Campsite heads off into the woods via the side road in the photo

Jonas Creek Campground, Jasper National Park

Location: 78 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite.

Open: May 20 – September 5, 2016.

Facilities: 25 sites including 11 walk-in sites that require a stiff walk up into the woods. One cooking shelters, six dry toilets, two bear-proof storage lockers. No power, electricity or flush toilets.

Pluses/Minuses: Walk-in campsites are very private and quite lovely! Campsites #8 and #9 are close to Jonas Creek. No views. Lots of highway noise if you don’t do walk-in camping.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Very private campsites at Jonas Creek if you’re prepared to walk in

Honeymoon Lakes Campground, Jasper National Park

Location: 52.5 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite.

Open: June 23 – September 5, 2016.

Facilities: 35 sites. Two cooking shelters, four dry toilets, two bear-proof storage lockers. No power, electricity or flush toilets.

Pluses/Minuses: If you can score campsites 30 -35 then you will back onto this very pretty lake. All other campsites are wooded but with decent privacy. The lake is warm enough for swimming. The lake is great for poking about in a canoe or kayak.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Honeymoon Lake is very popular because of the swimming and boating

Mount Kerkeslin Campground, Jasper National Park

Location: 36 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite.

Open: June 23 – September 5, 2016.

Facilities: 42 sites – no tent only walk-in sites. One cooking shelters, four dry toilets, one bear-proof storage locker. No power, electricity or flush toilets.

Pluses/Minuses: Campsites 7, 8 and 9 are closest to the Athabasca River. The river is very accessible and a great place to hang out. Most campsites do not have highway noise.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Wapiti Campground, Jasper National Park

Location: 5.4 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite.

Open: June 17 – September 18, 2016 and the May long weekend. There are winter options here as well.

Facilities: More than 600 campsites with lots of amenities like showers, flush toilets and sani-dumps.

Reservations: Book beginning January 13th, 2016.

Pluses/Minuses: Its close enough you can ride your bike into Jasper or walk the trail along the Athabasca River. More privacy that Whistlers Campground.

Whistlers Campground, Jasper National Park

Location: 3.5 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite.

Open: May 6 – October 10, 2016.

Facilities: 781 sites – and over 100 have power, water and sewage. It’s the largest campground in Jasper National Park. There are Otentiks here you can rent. It has showers, flush toilets, playgrounds and an interpretive trail.

Reservations: Book beginning January 13th, 2016.

Pluses/Minuses: It’s family friendly for bike riding. The campground is like a small city so although most campsites are private, noise can be an issue. The staff try very hard to keep that in check in the evening. It’s an affordable option to staying in Jasper.

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Campsites are surprisingly private considering there are 535 of them

Check-in times for camping along the Icefields Parkway

Campsite reservations cannot be made for any campgrounds along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. Check-in time in the Banff National Park campsites is at 2 PM. They are available on a first come, first served basis so show up early. In Jasper National Park, most of the campsites are first come, first served BUT with no specific check-in time. The large campsites near Jasper do have a reservation system in place beginning in mid-Januaru. Check out for all campsites in both parks is 11 AM.

You can stay for up to 14 days in the campsites.

HOW MUCH DO CAMPSITES on the ICEFIELDS PARKWAY COST?

If a campsite is unserviced – and most of them are – then prices are $15.60 or $17.60. Waterfowl Lakes is an exception at $21.50 a day. Bring exact change as you put the money in an envelope and then deposit it in metal container. Credit cards can also be used. To have a fire is extra – $8.80 per day.

WHERE SHOULD YOU GAS UP ?

Before you head out on the Icefields Parkway gas up in Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper depending on what direction you’re heading. The only option along the parkway is at The Crossing Resort in Saskatchewan Crossing, 80 kilometres north of Lake Louise, and 152 kilometres south of Jasper. They also offer an RV septic dump, fresh water, treatment products and automotive supplies.

WHERE CAN YOU BUY FOOD?

In the village of Lake Louise there is a small grocery store, a liquor store and a couple of cafes you can hit before you start the drive. Simpson’s Num-Ti-Jah Lodge has a cafe and a dining room. At The Crossing Resort you can buy snacks and meals – but they are expensive. At the Icefields Centre there is a full restaurant. Look for Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge near Sunwapta Falls. You can sit down for a meal or choose from ready-made sandwiches, salads etc. The food is good and you can buy an espresso drink here.

RULES in the NATIONAL PARKS

  • To stay in a campground on the Icefields Parkway you must have a valid Parks Canada permit.
  • If you stay at a campsite display the camping permit (obtained when you pay). A maximum of six people can stay at one campsite. Site occupants are the only ones allowed to stay after 11 PM
  • If you plan to have a fire ensure you’ve paid for the privilege. Use the wood that has been provide at the campsite and use the fire rings provided. Campfires aren’t permitted during quiet time.
  • Quiet hours are 11 PM to 7 PM. They are strictly enforced.
  • Generators can only be used between 9 AM – 10:30 AM and 5 PM – 7 PM.
  • Pets must always be on a leash.
  • On long weekends there is a full alcohol ban.
  • If you plan to fish get a Parks Canada Fishing Permit.

OTHER CAMPING OPTIONS

In the Banff area there are several large campgrounds including Tunnel Mountain and Two Jack Lake. In Jasper, Wabasso Campground on Highway 93A offers a reservation service.

ALTERNATIVES to CAMPING

If you aren’t into camping there are some options from hostels to hotels to cabins. Most fill quickly in summer so reservations are recommended.

There are four hostels – Mosquito Creek, Rampart Creek, Hilda Creek and Beauty Creek.

For hotels or chalets try Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, The Crossing Resort, The Glacier View Inn (on the third floor of the Icefield Centre), Sunwapta Falls Resort or Beckers Chalets.

WHAT YOU DON’T WANT TO DO

We forgot our tent poles in Calgary. Let’s just say there was a lot of swearing when that dawned on us and then a look at our options; drive six hours return back to Calgary to get them (no); check into the hotel at the Columbia Icefields (probably booked and expensive so no) or rig up something – which is what we did in the end.

We did bring three tarps of varying sizes though one leaked as we quickly found out since it was raining at the start. Although we didn’t have protection at the sides of our tent – and it sagged, it did keep us bug free and mostly dry.

My advice: Don’t forget your tent poles, tent, stakes, tarps or rope. Find a campsite with closely spaced trees. (This is walk-in campsite #1 at the Icefield Campground.)

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Don’t forget the tent poles – or a tarp

Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway

Other posts you might enjoy:

A big thank you to Travel Alberta for making this post possible.

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
HikeBikeTravel
Follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

Join the discussion 30 Comments

  • SAHiker says:

    If I want to stay in either the Wilcox or Icefields campground on a Monday evening at the end of June, and we would be arriving in the evening, is it likely I will get a campsite?

    • @SAHiker If it’s June 30th no – as it’s Canada Day on July 1st & a national holiday. If its June 26th you gave a chance. I think you’d have better luck at Wilcox than the Icefields. Depending on the time of day I would also really recommend checking out a few of the campsite BEFORE you get to Wilcox so you aren’t left with nothing. Lady luck would still need to be onside as the parks will be crazy busy in 2017. However – the hiking out of their is first rate!!

  • Erica says:

    Do you think that we would be able to get a campsite on July 19 or July 20? I know the parks are busier this year, and I don’t want to not have a place to sleep one night. We are looking at Columbia Icefields or Waterfowl.

  • colin maxwell says:

    So what season would i need to use in september in the ice fields

  • Marylene Robitaille says:

    what time does first comes first serves starts? 8AM?

  • Benny says:

    I plan to visit around mid september and will be tent camping. Would you know which campsites are warmer(less cold) than others?

    • Leigh says:

      @Benny Anywhere but right at the Icefields which is always colder.

      • Benny says:

        Which campground do you recommend that is in the middle of Jasper. We may not want to relocate often since we are doing a 4-5day trip, so we would ideally would want to camp out at 2 campsites to cover the park.

      • Leigh says:

        @Benny I’d try for the Columbia Icefields Campground (tents only) or nearby Wilcox and then move closer to Jasper; I liked Mt Kerkeslin campground.

  • John says:

    Hi Leigh,

    I need wifi for work – is there any chance of getting it at the campsites?

    • Leigh says:

      @John None at campsites but I do believe you can get it at Sunwapta Lodge at the cafe. I’m not sure if the Icefields Lodge has it but you could email them and see if they could help. Hard to live without it but very refreshing if you ca pull it off.

  • Holly says:

    Does the icefield campground have the enforced rule of fires out by 11pm like the other sites in Jasper?

  • colin says:

    What season tent would be good to use in September. Could we have snow or heavy rain.I have a 3 man 4 season tent and also a 3 season 2 man tent

    • Leigh says:

      @Colin You can literally have everything but fall is usually pretty darned nice. If you’re driving I’d take the 4 season tent but if I personally was backpacking I’d still opt for the 3 season tent.

  • DG says:

    We plan to stay along the parkway right after labour day (Sep 7/8) – do you think we’ll have a hard time finding a spot in the evening of the 7th?

    • Leigh says:

      @DG As its past Labour Day you should be okay. Some of the more popular campsites will still have a lot of people but I’d be surprised if you had problems.

  • Jenn says:

    Hi Leigh,
    This is great, thanks,
    What happens if a group of bikers shows up to a campground in the evening, and it’s full. Do they have overflow or a no-turn-away policy? Or do you just have to ride on?

    • Leigh says:

      @Jenn You would just have to ride on. Hopefully there would be a few fast members in your group that could nab several campsites. And if you choose the less popular ones you’d have a very good chance of a spot.

  • Shwan Marsh says:

    Thanks for all the details. But I want to bring my own small portable toilet with me. Is there any problem with that?

  • Yza says:

    Exactly the information I was looking for, down to the best spots! Thanks a lot!!!

  • Shauna K says:

    Lots of great info, thank you! I wish I had seen this before our trip last week. We scoped out campsites between LL and the Columbia Icefield. Where are the walk-in sites (we prefer walk-in over camping near our car) at Silverhorn? We couldn’t find them. Also, Waterfowl lakes campground has 10 walk-in tent sites.

    We are going back this weekend and Silverhorn would be a good base for our planned day trips, if we can find secluded tent sites. Otherwise that campground is like a big parking lot.

    • Leigh says:

      Hi Shauna,
      You have to drive past all the parking spots to the far end of the campground. Then you park your car and if I remember correctly walk over a small bridge. There were several excellent very private ones that would be excellent so do spend some time exploring. I agree that the rest of the campground is like a parking lot.

  • colleen says:

    in the park and stop rest areas would they permit people to sleep in there cars

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