Activities

Wilderness Camping

There are nine wilderness campsites in Waterton Lakes National Park. Check the park map for their locations.

Fees and Reservations

A Wilderness Use Permit is required for overnight stays in the backcountry. Permits are available from the visitor centre. There is no charge for children aged 16 and under. Annual wilderness passes may be purchased and are valid for backcountry camping at all national parks in western Canada.

Reservations are available for wilderness campsites. A non-refundable reservation fee is charged, plus a modification fee for any additional changes to your itinerary. Reservations for backcountry trips may be made 90 days in advance beginning April 1 of each year. Call the visitor centre at (403) 859-5133.

Reservations must be paid for at the time of booking by credit card (MasterCard, American Express or VISA). Before calling, please have the following information:

  • dates of trip
  • campsites preferred
  • number of adults and children in party
  • credit card information
  • contact address and phone number
  • model and licence plate of vehicle

Permits must be picked up at the visitor reception centre no sooner than 24 hours in advance of the start date of the trip.

Random Camping

Non designated or random camping may be permitted in certain circumstances. Prior permission from a Resource Conservation officer is required and all wilderness camping regulations and fees apply. Fires are not permitted and all campsites must be 50m from any watercourse.

Refunds

Requests for refunds must be made prior to commencing your trip. Reservation fees are non-refundable. Refunds are not given for inclement weather. Trips that are cancelled due to park management actions, such as trail or campground closures, will receive a full refund including the reservation fee.

Wilderness Camping Regulations

  • Wilderness camping is permitted at designated sites only. Tents must be placed on tent pads provided at each site. Tent pads measure 2.7m x 2.7 m (9'x9'). There is a limit of one tent per tent pad. Most sites have four tent pads. Maximum party size is six people.
  • Gas stoves are required for cooking at backcountry campsites, but certain sites allow fires in designated fire pits. If you do choose to have a fire, it should be kept small and extinguished completely. Gather only small pieces of dead and down wood. All fires may be prohibited when the fire hazard is extreme.
  • Water sources are available at each campground. Water should be treated or boiled before use. Food must be cooked and consumed at the designated cooking area away from the tent pads. Don't eat or store food near your tent as this could attract wildlife. Store food, cooking gear and garbage on the bear poles provided at each site. You will need to bring 10m (30') of rope.
  • Pit toilets provided at each site. Urination around your campsite attracts wildlife and leads to vegetation damage. Remember to bring toilet paper.
  • Don't wash yourself, clothes or cooking gear in lakes or streams. Remove all food scraps from grey water and scatter at least 50m from campsite or water source. Pack out all food remnants along with all your garbage.

Backpackers' checklist

Before heading out for an overnight stay in Waterton's backcountry, consider the items you will need to take to make your trip safe and enjoyable.

You need to bring:

  • tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad
  • adequate clothing, rain gear, hiking boots or sturdy shoes
  • adequate food, gas stove, fuel and matches, cooking gear bowl/plate, cup, and cutlery
  • water bottle
  • first aid kit
  • toilet paper
  • rope, minimum 10m (30')

You may want to bring:

  • hat, sunglasses, sun screen
  • insect repellent
  • camera
  • extra socks
  • topographic map, compass

Be considerate of other users! At campsites let nature's sounds prevail. Keep loud voices and noises to a minimum.

More about Hazards and Safety in the Park