Tips for Visiting the Back Country of Banff National Park
With over 2,500 square miles of unsurpassed scenic beauty filled with glistening glaciers, pristine lakes and breathtaking rocky peaks, spending time in the back country of Banff National Park offers a highly rewarding experience. Choosing one of many camping options or a back country hut is a great option to avoid the crowds that tend to congregate at the park’s most popular attractions while becoming immersed in this magnificent wilderness. For the most rewarding experience, consider these tips when planning this extraordinary trip.
There are 50 backcountry campsites found across the beautiful mountain wilderness at Banff. Plan ahead, especially if you’ll be visiting in July or August. Reservations can be made up to three months in advance by calling the Park Information Center at 403-762-1556.
A Wilderness Pass is a mandatory permit for any overnight trip into the backcountry and will specify the campsites you’ll be using as well as the number of people and tents in your group.
The Alpine Club of Canada offers huts located in some of the most stunning, and remote areas of the park. They vary in size and amenities and typically include beds, stoves and cooking supplies. This is a great option for those that want to experience the wilderness without having to lug in heavy gear.
Luxurious options are also available in the backcountry, providing a comfy feather bed to lay your head down on after a long day hiking, as well as a cozy fireplace and even a hearty breakfast to start your day just right.
Packing for Banff’s backcountry
While packing light is always best, especially if you’ll be backpacking in, a few essentials to bring include:
- A bottle of white vinegar for disguising unwanted scents such as food or blood that can attract bears or wolves. To lighten the load, pour the vinegar into a travel-sized spray bottle.
- Do not bring any perfumes or scented soaps – these can serve to attract predators.
- Insect repellant is essential for keeping away those annoying biting insects.
- Sunscreen is also a must. At higher elevations, you can burn much quicker than you would at lower levels.
- Binoculars for viewing the diverse wildlife at a distance.
- Bring clothing that can be layered. Even in the summer, weather can be unpredictable.
- Camping water filter if you’ll be backpacking in so that you don’t need to bring cumbersome water bottles. While the streams are generally clear, filtering is important to avoid bacteria.
Always keep in mind that this is true wilderness. The Canadian Rockies are home to Grizzly and black bears and it’s important to take precautions to minimize the chance of a close encounter. While hiking through remote areas make plenty of noise by whistling, singing or just shouting out every so often especially when traveling through thick brush, berry patches or near rivers and streams.
Hang all food, garbage and anything that’s been in contact with food such as pots and pans from bear cables or from solid trees. Be sure to camp well away from the area in which you cook.