We are planning to spend several weeks next August in the national parks around Banff and Jasper. I'd like to find two "home bases", one near Banff and one near Jasper where we can park the rig for a week or so each, then use the toad to tour the parks and surrounding areas.
I need full hook ups with 50 amp. Also, will be travelling with another party with a car and tent so we also need a campground that allows tents (either on our site or separate site, does not matter). Good bathrooms and showers are a must for the tenters as well. Laundry would be nice but not required. Won't really use any other amenities.
Try the National Parks, there reservation center do not even open until early April for this years camping reservations. I would spend more time in the south than the north more to see down there. As I remember I only had 30 amp in the parks.
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The two logical campgrounds are Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court Campground in Banff and Whistlers Campground in Jasper. However, I don't think either have 50-amp service and, without reservations, you may not have any electric service in Whistlers.
Also note: there are certain "long" weekends for which possession of alcohol is banned.
The brief stint on my visit last September there were only a couple of campgrounds open in the Jasper sector area (one nearby Jasper and one between Jasper and Columbia Icefield), and it seemed most of the Banff side of campgrounds were open within Banff and Lake Louise areas but all the remote located campgrounds were closed for the season, however I believe all campgrounds are still open during August.
The two campgrounds I stayed at were at Lake Louise, and Whistlers Campground that is close to Jasper - both have excellent shower facilities as I utilized them ... in mid September time, Lake Louise had plenty of sites with electric hookup available as I did not make reservations, however Whistlers Campground near Jasper only had a few tent sites left available as I was out of luck with electric hookups because they were all taken.
I would definately make reservations knowing the days of visiting during August as I was told it is still peak season and very crowded.
I also believe the electric sites only provided 30 amp power from the site I occupied in Lake Louise.
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There is a campground (KOA?), don't recall the name, in Canmore just south of Banff we stayed at that was very nice. Also, a KOA north of Jasper, Hinton KOA, that was also very nice. However, that one was quite a way (30 miles or so) from Jasper. Don't normally stay at KOA's, but these were an exception.
* This post was
edited 01/29/12 08:53am by zigzagrv *
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If you can make do with 30A then the National campgrounds are good, very close to all of the sight seeing. All campgrounds should be open in August, they don't start to close until the September long weekend. You can get reservations at www.pccamping.ca - the site won't open until April as someone already said.
In the Jasper area Whistler's is where most people stay who need hookups, if you can get away with power only then consider Wabasso Campground. That's where we always stay (this summer will make our fourth year in a row there), it is much smaller/quieter than Whistlers and only 10 minutes further down the highway.
Spending a week around each is pretty good. I love the area, scenery is amazing. If you are going to spend that much time in the parks then consider a year park pass, the break even is about 7 days (assuming two non-senior people and a car). You could also consider cutting a few days off of Jasper and add those to a stay at Lake Louise, with the remainder in Banff. The reason is the lower end of the Icefields Parkway is much closer to Lake Louise and there are some great things to see. From Banff and Jasper it makes for a longer day driving.
There is a ton to see but my "must see" in Jasper is Angel Glacier at the top of Edith Cavell Road (which happens to start 2 miles from Wabasso Campground). On the lower end of the Icefields Parkway the must see is Bow Summit which looks over Peyto Lake. If you are into a hike then hike to Bow Glacier Falls which starts just south of Bow Summit. There is little elevation gain, takes 2 adults about 1.5 hours each way. In the Banff area, besides the usual sites try to take in Johnston Canyon, the earlier you get there the better as it can be very busy in the summer. It is more of a walk than a hike, with boardwalk attached to the canyon walls.
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You might consider splitting your stay into 3 components of about 1\3 each.
Tunnel Mountain near Banff
Lake Louise. Here the tenters would have to be in a separate, but closeby, campground which is fenced to protect the grizzlies from the tenters. Not likely you will see one near the campground, but they do pass through the area.
Whistlers at Jasper.
As others have said reserve as early as possible.
As for your requirement for 50 amp keep in mind that because of the altitude the parks are generally cool particularly in the evenings. Unless we get an unusually hot spell it will be unlikely you will need your air conditioning. Ours is the most unused part of our RV.