North Molar Pass © L. Holleman
Banff National Park is a very special place to enjoy a backcountry experience. As a backcountry user, you can access treasured natural wonders not seen by most park visitors—and experience them without the crowds associated with the park’s more accessible attractions.
When to Go | Where to Go | What to Bring
Passes, Permits & Reservations | Safety & Stewardship
Trail Report | Warnings and Closures | Backcountry Campground Vacancy Report
When to Go
The main hiking season in Banff National Park is from May to October. Until late June, many trails at higher elevations remain snow-bound. Stream flows are highest during June and July; more remote trails have few bridges and require stream fording. July and August are the prime backcountry hiking months, although even in summer snow is not uncommon at higher elevations. September is generally drier than July and August, although temperatures are lower and there is a greater chance of snowfall. Regardless of the season, the weather in Banff National Park is unpredictable. Being prepared for rain, snow or high winds at any time of year is especially important in the backcountry.
Most visitors to the backcountry of Banff National Park are hikers. Travel by horseback or bicycle is also possible on designated trails.
Where to Go
To see a map of Banff’s backcountry trails and campground locations, use the Backcountry Trails in Banff National Park brochure and see Suggested Itineraries to help you plan the best trip for you and your group.
In more popular and accessible areas of Banff’s backcountry, you will find maintained hiking trails, designated campsites with outhouses, tent pads, food storage cables, picnic tables and metal fire rings (where fires are allowed). In more remote areas of the park, be prepared for fewer maintained trails and to be more self-reliant. Pre-trip planning and preparedness essential for travel in the backcountry.
Rustic trail shelters
Rustic Trail shelters located at Egypt Lake and Bryant Creek can be booked through the Parks Canada Visitor Centres in Banff or Lake Louise. They can be booked in the same way as campsites with an added surcharge of $6.80/person/night. Dogs are not permitted in backcountry shelters.
Alpine huts maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada are available to club members and non-club members. For information and reservations visit the Alpine Club of Canada.
There are four commercial lodges located in the backcountry of Banff National Park.
Shadow Lake Lodge
Continuing beyond park boundaries?
Find out more about backpacking in areas connected to Banff National Park.
Jasper National Park
Yoho National Park
Kootenay National Park
Alberta Parks and Protected Areas - Kananaskis Country
B.C. Provincial Parks