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 and reservations   

Trail report | Warnings and closures 

When to go

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. 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.

backpacking cycling horseback riding

Where to go

To see a map of Banff’s backcountry trails and campground locations, use the brochure Backcountry Trails in Banff National Park and see suggested itineraries to help you plan the best trip for you and your group.

Backcountry campgrounds

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.

backcountry campgrounds

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.

Rustic trail shelters

Alpine huts

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.

Rustic trail shelters

Commercial lodges

There are four commercial lodges located in the backcountry of Banff National Park.

Shadow Lake Lodge
Skoki Lodge
Sundance Lodge
Halfway Lodge

Commercial lodges

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