Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/canada/alberta/banff-and-jasper-national-parks) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.

Parks Canada (www.pc.gc.ca/banff, www.pc.gc.ca/jasper) Comprehensive info for Banff and Jasper from the Canadian national park service.

Campground Reservations (www.reservation.pc.gc.ca) Reserve sites at Banff's and Jasper's campgrounds starting in January.

Alpine Club of Canada (www.alpineclubofcanada.ca) With 33 alpine huts and 100+ years of history, Canada's venerable mountaineering club is a godsend for outdoors enthusiasts.

AllTrails (www.alltrails.com) Comprehensive online hiker's resource.

Top Tips

  • Expect changeable weather and dress accordingly. Banff and Jasper are susceptible to rapid swings of temperature and precipitation, so bring plenty of layers and the best rain gear you can find!
  • If you're traveling in summer, make campground and hotel reservations as soon as possible. Reservable campgrounds start filling up as early as January, and other accommodations are in short supply during peak season (mid-June through early September).
  • When it comes to bears, be prepared, not scared. Dangerous bear encounters are extremely rare, and you can help minimize the odds even further by following a few simple rules: make noise on the trail, watch for signs of bears so you can avoid them, and – just in case – carry bear spray and learn how to use it before heading into the backcountry.

What to Take

  • Sturdy shoes or hiking boots
  • A windbreaker and/or waterproof jacket
  • A day pack or backpack
  • Hiking poles or other specialized equipment
  • Layers of clothing for changing weather conditions
  • Water bottle(s) and/or a hydration pack
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Flashlight or headlamp

What to Wear

Relax, you're in the Rockies! Seriously, how you dress here is usually more about staying safe, warm and dry than creating the right social impression. If you're spending any time outdoors (and who isn't?), you'll need:

  • dependable footwear: hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes, sandals or slippers
  • rain gear: a waterproof jacket, plus rain paints and gaiters if heading for the backcountry
  • cold weather protection (yes, even in summer!): long underwear, wool or fleece base layers, down or synthetic jacket, hat and gloves
  • shorts or convertible pants, hat, swimsuit

For evenings out in Banff, or if you plan to frequent high-end facilities like the Fairmont hotels and golf courses, at least one smart casual outfit will also serve you well.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • If visiting from outside Canada, make sure you have proper identification (passport, enhanced driver's license, etc).
  • Reserve campsites, hotels or other lodging well in advance if traveling during peak summer season (mid-June to early September).
  • if you're planning to hike, buy boots well ahead of time and break them in.
  • Arrange for appropriate travel insurance.