Etiquette and regulations
Stay on the trail
Shortcutting between trail switchbacks damages both the soil and vegetation. This not only impacts the area, but also makes it susceptible to further damage by erosion.
Camp in designated campgrounds as indicated on your Backcountry Permit and use the tent pads provided to minimize impact on vegetation. The maximum length of stay for any one campground is three consecutive nights.
To avoid attracting bears and other wildlife to your campsite, all food, garbage, toiletries and cooking equipment must be suspended from the food storage cables provided at designated campgrounds. Ensure you have a sturdy food sack that will stand up to wind and the elements. Prepare meals in a designated cooking area, away from your tent. For areas where random camping is permitted, bring bear-resistant canisters, or a rope to hang your food downwind of your campsite as illustrated below.
Cooking and campﬁres
All backcountry travellers should carry a portable stove for cooking. Campﬁres are permitted in metal ﬁre rings provided at certain campgrounds, as indicated on the map. If you have a campﬁre, use only deadfall, keep it small, do not leave it unattended and be sure it is fully extinguished when you are ﬁnished.
Wash well away from any water sources and keep the use of soap to a minimum (even biodegradable soaps are pollutants). When washing dishes, strain the bits of food waste and pack them out. Disperse strained water on the land.
Pack out garbage
If you pack it in—pack it out. Littering is unlawful and hazardous to wildlife. Do not dispose of garbage in outhouses.
Properly dispose of human waste
Use the outhouses provided. If there are no outhouses, select a spot away from trails, campsites and at least 70 m away from water sources. Dig a hole 12 to 16 cm deep to reach the dark-coloured biologically active soil layer. When filling the hole with soil, do not pack it down. Pack out toilet paper and used feminine hygiene products.
Take only photos
Leave all rocks, fossils, horns, antlers, wildflowers, nests and other natural or historic objects where they are for others to enjoy. It is unlawful to remove, deface, damage or destroy any natural or cultural resources within Canada’s national parks. Information on low-impact backcountry travel.
Firearms are prohibited
Firearms, including pellet guns, bear bangers, bows, slingshots and similar, are prohibited in national parks. Parks Canada recommends carrying bear spray for protection from wildlife.
Share the trail
Backcountry trails are shared by hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Please respect other users and yield the right of way to ensure safety. If you wish to avoid trails that are busier due to shared use, plan ahead and check with staff at a Parks Canada visitor centre.
Random camping is allowed by permit only in designated areas of the backcountry. A backcountry permit for random camping can be obtained only in person at Parks Canada visitor centres in Banff and Lake Louise, or by calling 403-762-1556 in Banff or 403-522-1264 in Lake Louise.
In 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. Make sure you camp 5 km or more from either the trailhead or any designated campground. Pitch your tent at least 50 m from the trail and at least 70 m away from the nearest water source. Cook and store food well away from your tent. Remember to bring a stove and fuel as campﬁres are not permitted in random camping areas.