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Get Planning! Parks Canada Reservations in Alberta Start January

Rocky Mountain House National Historic Park

Updated January 19, 2024

I know, I know, planning for camping in January and after the massive cold snap that most of us Albertans just experienced seems crazy. But, it’s true, National Parks in Alberta (Parks Canada) start taking reservations right away! This makes my heart warm and has me dreaming of better days of long sunlight, glorious heat and once again swimming in our beautiful lakes. This really does seem like a dream at this point!

Here’s what you need to know if you want to snag a sweet campsite at a Parks Canada Campground this summer:

  • You can make your reservations for the entire summer at a Parks Canada campsite once the reservation launch begins.
  • Study the maps of the campgrounds ahead of time so that you know exactly what you want (plus a back up or two) for the morning of the launch. If you are looking for a fully serviced site or waterfront site this will be important.
  • Again, if you want a prime site you will likely want to be online about 15 minutes before the 8am MST launch time.
    • If you have multiple browsers or devices, log in on all of them. Your spot in line is randomly selected at 8am.
  • You need a Parks Canada Pass to stay in any National Park. Check out the Discovery Pass options here.
  • You can make all online reservations here. If you have any issues with the website, you can contact Parks Canada reservations by phone by calling 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783). This service is available from 8am to 6pm local park time.
Children running on boardwalk towards red chairs in Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park

Parks Canada Reservation Launch Dates for Alberta

Parks Canada lists reservations by location. Which, if you know where you want to go is great. If you want to make sure you don’t miss your chance to make a reservation anywhere inside Alberta, it gets a bit messy (we are blessed with A LOT of National Park camping options in this province!).

Be sure to confirm dates on Parks Canada’s site (and you can go there to access the reservation system, too). Ordered by date reservations open, here are the Alberta national park campground reservation opening dates:

  • Wednesday, January 24, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Elk Island National Park (Astotin Lake campground)
    • Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site
    • Waterton Lakes National Park (townsite)
    • Wood Buffalo National Park (Pine Lake)
  • Friday, January 26, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Banff National Park
      • Tunnel Mountain (Trailer Court, Village 1, and Village 2)
      • Lake Louise (Hard and Soft-Side)
      • Johnston Canyon
      • Two Jack (Lakeside and Main)
      • Rampart Creek
      • Silverhorn Creek
  • Monday, January 29, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Backcountry camping in Banff, Kootenay & Yoho National Parks
  • Tuesday, January 30, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Jasper National Park
      • Whistlers
      • Miette
      • Wabasso
      • Wapiti
      • Whirlpool group camping
      • Palisades
  • Thursday, February 1, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Jasper National Park backcountry camping

Comfort Camping Reservation Dates

Read all about our stay in the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site for more details about glamping in Canada’s National Parks.

If you want to book a comfort camping option, these are the dates to make sure you’re online:

  • Wednesday, January 24, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Elk Island National Park, Astotin Lake, oTENTik
    • Rocky Mountain House NHS: Trapper tent, Teepee, cabins, and equipped camping
  • Friday, January 26, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Banff National Park
      • Tunnel Mountain Village 2, oTENTik
      • Two Jack Lake, oTENTik
  • Tuesday, January 30, 2024, 8am Alberta time
Lake Louise lake shore

Additional Parks Canada Reservations To Make

The Parks Canada reservation system is used for a few other things, too. In particular, if you want to take their shuttle from the Lake Louise Ski Area to access Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, you need to book ahead of time! Half the spots will be released in April, with the remaining spots opening up at 8am two days ahead of the departure date.

  • Tuesday, January 23, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Banff National Park
      • Hidden Lake Guided Hike (not camping!)
  • Thursday, April 18, 2024, 8am Alberta time
    • Shuttle to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise lakeshore

Details on Each National Park Campground

Jasper National Park

This includes Miette (formerly Pocahontas), Wabasso, Wapiti, Whistlers (including oTENTiks) & Palisades. Jasper is a personal favourite of mine (since I was a little girl) and we love staying at Whistlers. They have added a great feature called Whistlers Trail with different natural play areas for the kids to explore.

Wapiti is great for smaller trailers and tenting as the sites are a bit smaller but you are very close to the Athabasca River which is a great trade off. You will often see Elk roaming the campsite to get to the water for a drink.

Note that these campgrounds have been hit hard by the Pine Beetle and many of the trees were cut down during refurbishment from October 2018 to Summer 2021. The campgrounds are much more open than they used to be.

Jasper camping

Banff National Park

This includes Lake Louise, Tunnel Mountain, Johnston Canyon, Two Jack and oTENTiks. Banff is the most popular national park in Canada, welcoming millions of local, national, and international tourists every summer.

If you are staying in Banff we recommend Tunnel Mountain. They have large sites and great shows put on by Park Staff. Note that if you are looking to have a campfire book a spot that is in Tunnel Mountain Village I as the Trailer Courts don’t have fire pits. They have restricted generator use this year to 9-10:30am and 5-7pm which will make your stay here even better.

Be sure to read our 13+ kid-approved activities to do when visiting Banff!

C & S Hiking in Banff

Elk Island National Park

Reservations are available for the only overnight campground in the park, Astotin Lake. Equipped camping and oTENTiks are also available. One of our founders stayed in an oTENTik one year with her family and loved the experience! A great short trip for Edmonton folks.

Read about our Elk Island Adventure Playdate.

Young boy hanging out next to a boardwalk in Elk Island National Park

Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site

This includes the Rocky Mountain House Campground and Heritage Camping which one of our founders took in last year with her children. Read all about that experience here!

Trappers Tent at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site

Waterton Lakes National Park

Reservations are available for the Townsite Campground. This is the perfect location if you want a less rustic experience. Waterton is within walking distance (a great place for lunch and ice cream treats is Wieners of Waterton!) and a beautiful waterfall with a walking trail to the top that is easy for little legs is also close by. They also have a great playground with beautiful mountain views close by and you are walking distance to the lake as well.

The park continues to recover from the 2017 fire. Belly River Campground is available on First Come, First Served and fills up quickly. Crandall Mountain is still closed.

Red Rock Canyon in Waterton National Park
Red Rock Canyon – Waterton National Park

What about Camping in Alberta Provincial Park Campgrounds?

Don’t you worry, this is coming! Alberta Parks runs their reservations based on the date you arrive – you can book 90 days ahead of time. Check out our post with all the information you need to know about reserving an Alberta Parks Campsite.

Looking for More?

Want more camping information? Check out these posts:

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Every Day Girl