In more popular and accessible areas of Banff’s backcountry, you will find maintained hiking trails and designated campsites with outhouses, tent pads, food storage cables, picnic tables and metal fire rings where fires are allowed. More remote areas of the park provide a greater opportunity for solitude, although trails may not be regularly maintained and hikers must be self-reliant. Route finding and navigation skills are required and hikers should be prepared to safely ford streams. Pre-trip planning and preparedness is essential for travel in the backcountry.

When to go

Trail conditions

The main hiking season in Banff National Park is from May to October. Until late June, many mountain passes and trails at higher elevations remain snowbound and may be impassable. 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.

Weather

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.

 

Checklist
  • Select a trip which best suits your group’s abilities, experience, interests, equipment and the time you have available.
  • Familiarize yourself with the hike you have selected by using guidebooks and topographic maps.
  • Obtain a backcountry permit online or by phone at 1-877-737-3783
  • Obtain a National Park Pass from a Parks Canada visitor centre.
  • Check weather conditions prior to departure.
  • Be prepared to be self-sufficient in all weather conditions and emergency situations.
  • Ensure a friend or family member knows your travel plans.
  • Before starting your hike, check the trailhead kiosk or the Parks Canada trail report for trail conditions, important updates or restrictions.