With the current administration we’ve all thought about fleeing to our neighbor to the north. Canada is safer, friendlier, and more progressive compared to our present state (there’s also poutine and Justin Trudeau). Unfortunately many of us aren’t fortunate enough to pick up and move to another country, so we have to settle for a visit. For the past few years Mark and I have talked about planning a camping trip in Canada and recently agreed there was no better time than present to go.
Planning a multi-day, car camping road trip (say that five times fast) in Canada requires time and research. There are over 40 parks with numerous hiking trails, historic sites, and outdoor activities that vary by season. Narrowing it down can be challenging but having an idea for how long to stay, what to do, and how much to spend will help prioritize the search.
Where to Go
Banff and Jasper National Parks are in close proximity with scenic drives near mountains, hanging lakes, and glaciers like the Icefields Parkway. Calgary International Airport is about 90 miles from Banff National Park and is the closest airport. Flying into Calgary and out of Edmonton (or the reverse) is a great option if you don’t want to double back. Flights from most major cities are fairly inexpensive and prices tend to hoover around $400 round trip.
In honor of its 150th anniversary, Canada is offering free access to all national parks this year. Order the Free 2017 Parks Discovery Pass online if traveling in more than eight weeks out. With free admission to the parks, campgrounds are likely to book up quickly. Reserve a campsite using the Parks Canada Reservation Service. Navigating the reservation site was similar to using TurboTax. It requires patience, creativity, and a lot prayer. Take note of how private the site is and if it is level before booking.
How to Prepare
Though more affordable, bringing personal camping gear isn’t the most practical option. Bactrax and Rent A Tent Canada offer car camping packages with most of the necessary equipment. There is a Cabela’s near the airport for any additional items that are needed.
What to Do
There are several ways to experience the parks whether it is on land, in the water or in the air. Hiking is the most obvious choice but there are more adventurous activities such as rock climbing, white water rafting, and skydiving. Banff Adventures and Chinook Rafting offer a variety of activities and packages.
Check back for a recap of our trip camping in Banff and Jasper National Parks!