Our protected areas are unique places and require unique rules to protect them.
Visitors should familiarise themselves with the Canada National Parks Act and the National Parks General Regulations. Violating the Canada National Parks Act and the National Parks General Regulations can result in consequences including evictions, court appearances and/or fines up to $25 000.
If you have any questions about the regulations below, please contact the Banff Visitor Centre.
Activities requiring a permit
There are a number of outdoor activities that require a permit such as research and collection, commercial videography and photography, and commercial guiding. Additionally, some activities are restricted in some or all areas of the park. Restrictions are listed under Important Bulletins.
The Banff airstrip is available only for emergency and diversionary landings. You cannot take-off or land an aircraft in a national park without a Restricted Activity Permit from Parks Canada, with some exceptions as listed in the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations. All aircraft must comply with the Canadian Aviation Regulations and National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations. Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles are considered aircraft by Transport Canada; all Parks Canada places are “no drone zones” for recreational use.
The open consumption of alcohol in public places is not permitted in Banff National Park. Consuming alcohol is allowed only at registered campsites, private residences or on licensed premises. Alcohol is not allowed at beaches, day-use areas, cook shelters or on trails.
The consumption of alcohol and cannabis is prohibited from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily, and a full ban on possession and consumption is in effect during summer long weekends in frontcountry campgrounds in Banff National Park. Find the full restricted activity order under the Important Bulletins.
Area closures and restrictions
Area closures and restrictions are implemented to protect natural or cultural resources or for visitor safety reasons, and are enforceable by law. Closure notices and restrictions will be posted at trailheads, access points, park offices, visitor centres and under Important Bulletins.
Bicycles are permitted only on roads and designated trails in Banff National Park.
Motors of any kind are allowed only on Lake Minnewanka. Use of personal watercraft (e.g. Sea-Dos, Jet Skis etc.) and towed water sports (e.g. water skiing) are not permitted on any water bodies.
Clean, drain and dry your watercraft to reduce the threat of invasive aquatic species.
Any type of inflatable is considered a vessel when it is used for navigating and each occupant/passenger requires a life vest / Personal Flotation Device and safety equipment.
Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal.
Boats that have been in waters outside Alberta or British Columbia in the last 30 days must undergo a provincial watercraft inspection. Call 1-855-336-BOAT (2628) for further information on obtaining a boat inspection.
Camping is allowed only in designated campgrounds. The permit holder for the campsite is responsible for the site, including cleanliness, noise levels and actions of site occupants. Camping (including sleeping in a vehicle) is not allowed in roadside pullouts, parking lots, trailheads and day-use areas. The maximum length of stay in an individual frontcountry campground is 14 nights. The maximum length of stay in an individual backcountry campground is 3 nights.
Cannabis, while legal, is strictly regulated in Canada. It is your responsibility to understand federal, provincial, and municipal regulations for cannabis use.
Day-use areas, such as picnic sites, are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fires are permitted only where designated, metal fireplaces and cook shelters with stoves are provided by Parks Canada. Alcohol use, smoking of any kind and camping are not allowed in kitchen shelters.
The recreational use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, is prohibited in all national parks. Leave your drone at home or in your vehicle.
Power-assisted bicycles as defined by the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations are allowed on roads in Banff National Park. Pedal assist e-bikes are prohibited on all trails in Banff National Park except:
- Banff Legacy Trail: Paved trail that parallels the Trans-Canada Highway from the Banff East Gate, through the Town of Banff, to the east end of the Bow Valley Parkway.
- Bow River Loop: Loop from the Lake Louise campground or Bow River Bridge opposite of historic Lake Louise train station (Station Restaurant).
- Tramline: From opposite of the Lake Louise train station to the main parking lot at Upper Lake Louise.
- Great Divide Route: From the parking lot at 3.6 km mark of Lake Louise Drive.
E-bikes equipped with an accelerator (throttle) are prohibited on all trails in Banff National Park.
By law, all visitors to Banff National Park must purchase a national park entry pass. Passes are available for purchase at park gates, visitor centres, campgrounds and at partner locations.
Parks Canada does routine checks asking visitors to show their entry pass. National park entry fees help support visitor services and facilities within Banff National Park.
Filming and photography
Temporary filming and photography activities have special considerations and a permit may be required.
Firearms and hunting
The use of firearms (including pellet guns, bear bangers, bows, sling shots etc.) and hunting are not permitted in Banff National Park. The possession of firearms is prohibited except at a person's primary premises or in a motor vehicle that is travelling on a highway. During transport, firearms must be unloaded and in a case or wrapped and tied securely in such a manner that no part of the firearm is exposed.
Fires are permitted only where designated fireplaces and cook stoves are provided by Parks Canada. Random fires are not allowed.
Keep your campfire safe for you and the environment:
- Keep fires small – To reduce their impact on the environment, fires must be contained within the designated metal fire boxes provided by Parks Canada and be kept to a reasonable size.
- Use firewood provided – Transporting wood from elsewhere may spread invasive insects and disease. Do not burn garbage or collect deadfall from the surrounding forest for burning.
- Never leave a fire unattended – Fires must be attended at all times.
- BBQs – Charcoal barbeques are permitted. Discard cold ashes into a fire pit.
- Extinguish fires completely when not in use and before you depart.
Using, selling, or purchasing fireworks, or any other type of explosive, is not permitted.
A national park fishing permit is required when angling in Canada's national parks. Provincial fishing licenses are not valid.
The possession limit for all fish caught in Banff National Park is zero except for lake trout caught in Lake Minnewanka reservoir for which the possession limit is two (2) fish.
Felt-soled boots are not permitted in any water body in Banff.
Anyone under the age of 16 may fish in the national parks without a permit if accompanied by a national park fishing permit holder 16 years of age or older. However, their catch is then included within the permit holder’s daily limit.
Consult these resources for the full regulations and more information:
Garbage and litter
Any unwanted food and garbage must be disposed of in wildlife-proof garbage bins, or secured in your vehicle or food locker. Never leave garbage unattended. Do not store garbage in your tent, tent-trailer, or open pick-up truck bed. Never burn food or food related items, including bottles, cans and garbage. Leave no trace in the backcountry. Pack out everything you pack in. Littering is a chargeable offence in Banff National Park.
To provide campers with a quiet and enjoyable experience within campgrounds, generator use is permitted only between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily.
Vehicles must remain on hardened surfaces, paved and gravel roads at all times. The use of Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs, e.g. ATVs, dirt bikes etc.) and Over-Snow Vehicles (OSVs, e.g. snowmobiles etc.) or any other off-road vehicle is not allowed. Mopeds and scooters are motor vehicles and are not allowed on trails or areas closed to motor vehicle traffic.
Natural and historic objects
Leave what you find—it is the law. Natural and cultural resources such as rocks, fossils, artifacts, horns, antlers, wildflowers and nests are protected and must be left undisturbed for others to discover and enjoy.
Permits and business licenses
All commercial activity is subject to business licensing and permits.
You are responsible for your pets. Dogs cause stress for wildlife as they may be seen as a threat. Off-leash dogs can trigger aggressive behaviour from wildlife. If you are planning to hike, camp or go into the backcountry, consider leaving your dog at home.
To prevent unsafe situations for yourself, your dog, wildlife and other people:
- Dogs must be on a leash at all times, it is the law. Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle, on your campsite, in your tent or anywhere else.
- Pets are not permitted in some areas. Look at the important bulletins posted at trailheads and at visitor centres to find out where restrictions are.
- Always clean up after your pet.
Smoking and vaping
The Province of Alberta has established regulations that outline minimum distances from buildings, playgrounds and other facilities with respect to cannabis and tobacco. These regulations are enforced in Banff National Park. It is your responsibility to understand federal, provincial, and municipal regulations:
Obey speed limits at all times: 90 km/hr on major routes and 60 km/hr or less on secondary roads, as posted.
It is illegal to feed, entice or disturb any wildlife in a national park. Violators will be charged, subject to a mandatory court appearance and could pay fines up to $25 000.
Be respectful when photographing wildlife. Never take selfies with wildlife. Animal behaviour is unpredictable. Bring binoculars or a telephoto lens to capture wild animals in their natural environment. When driving, obey all speed limits. If you see wildlife beside the road, slow down, stay in your vehicle, take a photo and move on.