Planning for Tent Camping in Jasper National Park

Hotels?  Who needs them?

For the die-hard outdoors enthusiast, there’s only ONE place to spend the night in Alberta, Canada’s Jasper National Park….inside a tent.

In this guide, the options for tent camping in Jasper National Park will be explored.

scan0135 (Photo by Warren Long)

According to Parks Canada, Jasper National Park offers 1,772 camping sites during peak season in its 10 campgrounds.   A night of camping in a Jasper campground ranges from about $15 for a primitive site to around $40 for a site with the works (electricity for an RV) though there are several other small fees that add-up, such as the $8.80 fire permit for those planning to make a fire. Whether driving a car or RV, these sites offer a drive-up parking space and a small parcel of land to call your own for the night.

Seeking to get away from it all?  Hike into the woods and camp.  Jasper National Park backcountry camping is available by permit only and for varying fees starting at about $10/night per person (see Parks Canada for details).

Parks Canada makes it easy to see the exact prices and reserve camping sites in the Jasper National Park campgrounds ahead of time through an online reservation system. See the Parks Canada campground reservation service for Jasper National Park camping in the Pocahontas, Wapiti, Wabasso and Whistlers campgrounds.

camp site in Wapiti Campground
A camp site in Wapiti Campground in Jasper National Park

For the outdoors enthusiast traveler with a knack for camping and a tolerance for camping in the rain (yes, there’s always a chance of rain in Jasper), the 10 Jasper National Park campgrounds can be a lot cheaper than staying at a hotel.  But don’t worry so much about the rain if staying at a campground.  Your car will be right next to your tent in case you need a dry place to sleep in emergency.

The downside for those of us who like the convenience of a shower everyday:

  • Of the 10 camping sites in Jasper National Park, only the Whistlers and Wapiti campgrounds have shower facilities.
  • For all other camping sites, maybe a little rain would not be such a bad thing after all!

Still, the idea of low-budget tent camping can be very tempting, especially for those who already own camping equipment, know how to camp and enjoy camping.

For those needing to buy new camping equipment for simple campground camping, the basic stuff on the low-end of the quality scale is inexpensive.  It seems reasonable to fit 2 lightweight sleeping bags, a small, lightweight tent and some small camping items in a large suitcase.  An air mattress and pump would be nice but might make a suitcase too heavy.  Cheap sleeping bags and a tent would run in the $125-$175 range if purchased from a discount department store.

For backcountry camping, the gear can be a lot more expensive.  Backcounty campers usually hike long distances and specialized ultra-lightweight camping gear is a must.

For those flying to Jasper National Park, the challenge will be fitting everything needed into a suitcase and getting it on and off an airplane.

Camping in Jasper NP

If traveling as a couple, that suitcase is half the usual checked-in baggage allowance.  That leaves one more suitcase for clothing and shoes.  The average couple may also each have a small carry-on bag/backpack (on the typical airline flight to Edmonton or Calgary).  The backpack is where I’d put cameras, batteries, books, Tums, Pepto, and itinerary print-outs.  More info about luggage can be found here.

VERY Good Advice!

Storing food in the wilderness of Jasper National Park brings about another concern: bears.  Food should be kept in the car or hung away from the campsite in sealed bear-proof containers.  I’d pack some large zip-lock bags and put opened food items inside and stick that in the trunk of the car.  Making sure the bears remain unaware of the food is smart.  Waking up in the middle of the night to a hungry bear whose eating tomorrow’s breakfast is no fun – especially if you stored breakfast in your pocket.   The “Get Bear Smart Society” offers some bear-aware camping tips here.

Besides Jasper National Park, western Canada offers lots of camping opportunities for travelers on one of those epic month-long camping adventures.  Here‘s a website about camping in the nearby province of British Columbia (BC is on the western border of Jasper National Park).  The government of the province of Alberta, Canada provides its own list of campgrounds here including those in nearby Banff National Park.

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18 comments to Planning for Tent Camping in Jasper National Park

  • Yanick Parent

    My family and I have already booked some camping at the Whistler Campground next month. We will be 6 persons in 1 pretty big tent having 2 rooms separated by a vestibule. Please, can you let us know what is the maximum tent size allowed on your campgrounds?

    Thanks

  • I’m not sure if the same rules apply up in Canada but down here bears have learned how to open up cars to get at the food inside, so cars are no longer a safe storage place as the sign in your article suggests. Parks are now providing community food storage lockers and hikers are required to carry bearproof containers. If you leave anything edible in your car, even a candy bar, the bears may rip the doors off to get at it. Possibly it’s rogue bear behavior that hasn’t spread to Canadian parks, but who wants to be first to get their car trashed?

  • @JimmyTH I hadn’t heard about the bears ripping off car doors, but did some digging and saw this on the Yosemite National Park website: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bears.htm

    Scary. I’d have to agree with you that signs should encourage better food practices.

    If the bears learn to drive, we’re really in trouble!!!

  • Bears are able to open car doors? OMG. I think there are some really beautiful national parks in canada, but this is scary! However, I am looking forward to visit canada next year.

    Greetings from Germany

  • I recall hanging all of our cooking/food supplies on a canoe trip up in the Boundary Waters to keep the bears from getting at it. Beautiful country up there, would love to go back and see it again sometime…maybe without all the portaging!

    Lol, bears driving…think I’ve seen that at a circus once!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awkrsCKe7So

    There goes the neighborhood!

    Cheers!
    -Booker
    Flashlight z

  • I am just wondering what CMS your site uses? It seems fabulous and I like all the website visitor options which are available. I’m sorry if this really is the incorrect place to ask this but I wasn’t sure how to make contact with you – thanks.

  • I love camping out in the wild and over the years I have found that the best thing is always to take a good travel guide with you wherever you go. Sometimes, the best thing to do before a camping trip is to check out an online travel ort camping site listed on http://www.dozentravel.com or another travel index. Check out this blog post on an online travel guide I found while surfing last night, it has some great advice on camping.

  • The site is powered by WordPress and a handful of plug-ins. The theme CSS is customized a lot but otherwise, WordPress is very powerful. I also use Drupal on other travel sites and find the time spent configuring Drupal takes away from time writing about travel. I like WordPress better…and I’ve used both WordPress and Drupal for 4+ years.

    The Jasper National Park photo gallery is using Gallery2 and a lot of customization.

  • outdoorsmen

    In Banff and Jasper there are food storage lockers, but you can also store food in hard sided vehicles. I have camped in yosemite and know that the black bears get into cars. This is not the case in Jasper.

  • Food storing is one of the most toughest thing to do in wild camping. I haven’t tried Jasper park yet. But I think I will need to check it out and see. Thanks.

  • My family and I really enjoy camping. We live close to two canyons that are beautiful and have tons of camping spots. You just have to make sure you have all the equipment you need to be comfortable: camping chairs, warm clothes, warm sleeping bags, lanterns, dutch ovens or grills, etc. If you are comfortable, you will enjoy it. It’s good to be out in nature and be reminded of how fortunate we are to have all that we do.

  • This is great information. The camping rates are relatively cheap and the area is so beautiful. I would stress again the importance of storing food in bear-proof containers: you’d be surprised what they can get into and what they can find! Basically, this will be a great holiday if you do the research before you go.

  • wow i couldnt do taht i would be too afraid of those bears :D

  • The family and I love camping and have a great trip planed for the 24th September, hiking, Fishing etc etc…we also find that bringing the extended family and friends makes for an even better experience…we try for 15-20 people for every trip and basically take over.

    Regards,
    Rob
    RV Patio Lights

  • My family really emjoys camping and this looks like a great camping destination.

  • Mel

    Ehh! yes very canadian of me lol, ok so I live in Alberta canada and so far i’ve headed up to the mountains (jasper/banff/hinton) many many times a year since the time i was 5, running up the side of the mountain with no parental figure bear mace or yada yada, i’ve still never seen a bear except once from a far distance in a vehicle and so basically im just commenting to reassure some of the non-canadians for example chris from germany, there’s no need to fear coming here and playin in the bushes it’s very rare that you will accually come into contact with let alone even see a bear however we go into so much depth of saying watch out because if it ever did happen it’s very likely it could result in fatality. like i said tho extremely rare and watch your back we have some lovely parks and you shouldnt let the warning signs sway you to overthink spending a few nights out here!

    cheers!

  • don peters

    I will be spending the month of september in whistlers campground in a tent. Are there any regulations or concerns with doing this due the rut season then ?????

  • Jon

    have lived in Alberta for 10 years, been to the mountains many times, I would say on average every other trip, we had a rather close encounter with a bear — the two most recent ones being: a young black bear crossed a river and scared a group of 6-8 families (with kids) off their chairs on the beach who rushed back into their RV’s and cars; an adult black bear roaming on the side of road along Medicine Lake, only this time the people were so eager to get out of the car for picture taking that the bear was scared off or he just couldn’t be bothered by people and swam away.

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