Basics of Camping – Different national parks offer various levels of amenities and services for couples, families, groups of friends, and singles who wish to enjoy the camping experience.
There are 2 types of camping: frontcountry camping and backcountry camping. Frontcountry camping is the most popular because campers can drive right up to a campsite. These campgrounds are busiest because they offer more amenities and facilities including showers, flush toilets, theatres, playgrounds, snack bars, interpretive programming, golf courses and some have swimming pools.
The various types of frontcountry camping are described in the categories below.
Serviced campsites generally offer electrical, sewer and water hook-ups for RVs, trailers, tent trailers etc. and each campsite varies in price range. Usually, the more amenities that are available at the park, the higher it is for using the campsite. Note that these serviced campsites are mainly utilized by RVs so it may not be ideal areas for tents but check with the park prior to arriving.
Unserviced campsites are more suitable for tenting since they offer tent pads. Plus, amenities such as flush toilets, showers and potable water are close-by. RVers and tenters that do not require hook-ups can use unserviced campsites if alternative serviced campsites are not available.
Pull-through campsites are labeled as such since they are meant for RVers who tow larger RVs or drive Class A Motorhomes. There is an entrance and exit which allows RVers to pull through the site rather than turning back to exit. This set up is especially convenient for RVers who own big rigs, fifth wheels, or long travel trailers that make it easier to maneuver through a campground.
Walk-in campsites can be accessed just by walking to them but you cannot drive your vehicle directly to a campsite. However, there is usually a parking lot close by where you can leave your vehicle while camping. Note that these campgrounds have fewer amenities than the serviced and unserviced campsites.
Groups of all sizes can reserve group campsites as they are designed for this purpose. Contact the park directly for information on the location of group campsites and what is available.
Backcountry camping is more of a wilderness adventure experience where there are no facilities, amenities or comforts in the vicinity. Usually people will have to hike, ski, snowshoe, canoe or kayak to reach backcountry sites. First timers doing backcountry camping should be aware of what to do in case of a bear or cougar encounter and how to handle it in a positive safe manner. You can download the Bears and People brochure HERE supplied by Parks Canada which is packed with valuable information on what to do during a bear encounter or how to avoid them altogether. If you do encounter a bear, it’s important to understand bear behavior in order to act in an appropriate way.
It’s helpful to report bear sightings and encounters to Parks Canada staff. Here are the numbers to report a bear sighting if you are in a Canada national park:
Banff, Kootenay & Yoho . . . . . . Park Dispatch 403-762-1470
Jasper, Revelstoke & Glacier. . . Park Dispatch 780-852-6155
Waterton: emergencies . . . . . . . RCMP Dispatch 403-859-2636
Waterton: bear sightings . . . . . . Park Office 403-859-2224
Learn to Camp App
Parks Canada Learn to Camp has made available for download the Parks Canada Learn to Camp App for first-time campers who want to visit Canada’s national parks. Information can be accessed here that will assist in making your first camping experience a success. Included in this App is information on the following: camping basics and insider’s tips, packing checklists, national park information, recipes and cooking advice. Also, it notifies campers about Learn to Camp events that take place in national parks and national historic sites across Canada. Learn to Camp App users can also share tips, recipes, and information using twitter and facebook in case campers want to mingle by asking questions with other campers.
Additional features of this App contain finding the ideal place to camp by utilizing the new interactive park finder.
Included in the basics of camping are: photos and information regarding steps on how to plan your trip, how to set up your campsite, how to make a campfire, how to plan a meal, camping with children and much more.
Photos and information for all of Canada’s 42 national parks can be viewed with this App. Also listed are experiences you might have or the animals you may encounter during your visits, along with activities you can participate in and how to get to events.
A valuable interactive checklist for camping will help you keep track of what is needed, what you have, and what is packed to make your camping experience more enjoyable.
The recipes are for simple and tasty breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks that can be cooked right at your campsite.
For more information on Learn to Camp click this link and you will find categories such as: Camping in a National Park; What to Bring; What to Wear; What to Know; What to Cook; Where to Camp; Campground Reservation Service Checklist; and Learn to Camp Experiences with Parks Canada.
Suggested Camping Maintenance Schedule Chart:
For lists of what to check click here.
List of Additional Apps for Camping Enthusiasts are: