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Banff National Park

Backpacking Safety & Stewardship

 

Manage Risk

Safety is your personal responsibility. Be prepared for possible hazards and always exercise caution.

  • Know your physical limits.
  • Inform friends or family of your itinerary.
  • Ensure that you have adequate food, water, clothing and equipment for your trip. 
  • Be prepared for at least one day more than your planned trip.
Bears and Wildlife

Please do not feed or approach wildlife. It is unheathy for them and alters their natural behavior. You should always:

  • carry bear spray
  • know what bear signs look like
  • make noise to let the bears know you’re there

More information about bears and safe hiking practices is available in the Bears and People and Bare Campsite brochures.

Food

To make your campsite less inviting to bears and other wildlife:

  • You must use the food storage cables or lockers provided to suspend or secure all food, garbage, toiletries (e.g. deodorant) and cooking equipment 
  • Prepare meals in a designated cooking area, away from your tent 
  • Strain food waste from your dishwater and pack it out
  • Pack out all garbage including food waste, diapers, tampons and sanitary napkins
Drinking Water

It looks pristine, but is it? Follow these tips to keep it fresh:

  • Boil, treat or filter all water before drinking it.
  • Do not wash yourself or your dishes in streams and lakes. Carry the water to your campsite and wash there. 
  • Dispose of grey water on land, well away from water sources and campsites. 
  • Minimize use of soap, including biodegradable soaps.
  • Drinking Water in the Great Canadian Outdoors
Campfires

Campfires are allowed only at campgrounds where fireboxes are provided. Keep fires small and use only the wood provided. In all other campsites, a backpacking stove is required.

Human Waste

Have to go but can’t find an outhouse?

  • Select a spot at least 70 m (seven bus lengths) away from trails, campsites and water sources.
  • Dig a shallow hole with a stick or heel of your boot.
  • Cover the hole with soil or rocks afterwards.
  • Pack out used toilet paper (really!)  
Weather

Never underestimate the power of weather in the mountains. Check the local weather forecast before you leave, but be prepared for anything.

  • Conditions can change from minute to minute and place to place.
  • Generally, the higher you go, the colder and windier it gets.
  • Ultraviolet radiation is also stronger at higher elevations.
  • A toque, warm jacket and sunscreen may all be required on any given day during the summer.
Pets

Pets are welcome in the backcountry but must be leashed at all times. To a wild animal, your dog is a canine – a predator. Wildlife may flee, endangering themselves or their young. Alternatively, they may respond aggressively, endangering you and your pet. The best way to care for wildlife and your pet is to leash your animal companions.

Stewardship

Rocks, fossils, horns, antlers, wildflowers, mushrooms, nests and all other natural or historical objects in a national park are protected by law. Please leave them in their natural setting for others to discover and enjoy. Thank you!