Safety and stewardship
When planning a trip into the backcountry of Banff National Park, at least one person in your party should be able to recognize natural hazards and have experience in wilderness first aid. Caution and self-reliance are essential.
- 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.
- In case of EMERGENCY, call 911 or Banff Dispatch at 403-762-4506, but remember cell phone reception in the backcountry is not reliable.
Giardia lamblia is a water borne parasite that can be present in any surface water. Boil, filter or chemically treat all water before drinking. 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.
Ticks carrying Lyme disease may be present in the park. Learn how to protect yourself and pets.
Dogs or other pets cause stress for wildlife. Dogs, like wolves and coyotes, may be seen as a threat. Off-leash dogs can trigger aggressive behaviour from wildlife such as grizzly bears and elk. To prevent unsafe situations, it is your responsibility to:
- Ensure your dog is on a leash and under control at all times.
- Pick up and dispose of your pet’s waste in a garbage bin.
- Dogs are not allowed on some trails.
- Consider leaving your dog at home if you plan to camp, hike or go into the backcountry.
Please do not feed or approach wildlife. It is unheathy for them and alters their natural behavior. Any wild animal can become aggressive if it feels threatened. Keep a distance of at least 30 m from most species and at least 100 m from bears. Carry bear spray at all times, keep it accessible and know how to use it. Learn how to reduce the risk of bear encounters.
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.