Lazy camping at Banff equipped campsites

camping in banff

Our equipped campsite in Banff National Park.

I’ll come right out and admit it: I’m a lazy camper. I didn’t used to be, but well, age and young children will do that to you. I still have the gear, but finding it is another story. I love glamping, but sometimes you want the experience to be a bit more rustic. Fortunately Parks Canada offers several options for slackers like me to get back to nature. Recently, kiddo and I tried out the new equipped campsites in Banff National Park. Here’s a look at our escapade.

Two Jack Lake

Camp day arrived grey and rainy. We rolled up to the site at Two Jack Main Campground, hurled our sleeping bags into the tent and took off. Seriously, who wants to hang outside in the rain? All of the 22 equipped camp sites in Banff come with a MEC six-person tent, picnic table, fire pit and wood. Once you’re settled in, a Parks employee will come around and hand you more gear. You’ll get a camp stove, propane tank and lantern, plus info on hiking and biking trails in the vicinity and a deck of playing cards. All you need to bring is your sleeping gear, food, water and cooking utensils. Oh, and a tarp would be useful if it rains, though they do have shelters you can use nearby.

national parks employee

A friendly, neighbourhood Parks employee will greet you and hand over your kit.

When all that’s required of you is rolling up, unloading your bedding and lighting a match, camping seems perfectly easy. And it was. Once it stopped raining.

cave and basin banff national park

After peeling out of the campsite we hit up the Cave and Basin, a National Historic Site. Surprisingly, Eve was really into exploring the pathways, reading about the infamous Banff Springs snail and sussing out sulfur-smelling springs. We had just enough time to wander around before the rain stopped, so back to our campsite we went.

Banff Equipped Campsites

camp fire

I made an A-OK fire…

Banff Camping

Before we took off, Eve decided to salvage a few pieces of wood from our pile. Little did I know, she was tromping through our tent with her shoes on, but she knew enough to grab the firewood wedged in the middle of our pile, something I didn’t think to do. And yes, we were able to churn out a roaring fire. I can’t lie, I brought along four of those fire starting logs to aid our endeavor, but only used one. (Hey, it had been chucking rain for hours!) If we really got stuck, we could’ve moseyed over to the Learn-to-Camp session Parks offers on a daily basis. But we had already made our fire and know how to make s’mores, so we gave it a miss.

camp chairs by a fire and tent

Ignore that bag of chips. A few nutritious items were eaten at dinner.

Dinner was a gourmet affair of hot dogs, chips and roasted marshmallows. The smell of wood smoke, the squeal of children playing hide and seek in the forest, and the rustling of leaves as the wind rushed through the trees all brought back memories of camping as a child. Why don’t we do this more often, I wondered?

I think it’s the hassle factor. Finding your gear, the packing and unpacking, the prep work – it can be a lot. But when you’re bedding down at an already equipped site, you still get the traditional camping experience, but all the annoyances are taken out of the equation for you.

girl playing near tent

The MEC tent set up by Parks Canada was soooo big!

Camp Canada

There’s certainly been a trend to make camping easier and not just for lazy moms like me. Young families are on the hunt for stress-free camping experiences, there’s college-age kids who don’t have the gear and boomers, who are less interested in backcountry experiences and crave simple, easier access.

MEC green tent

Roomy tents can fit entire families.

“There’s many who might not have the gear or the know-how,” admits Eric Baron, Product Development Officer for Banff National Park. “That’s why Parks Canada is offering a low-risk, low barrier entry to try camping out.”

And for this I applaud them. Eve and I had a lovely camping experience and learned more about ourselves in the process. Who would expect their 10-year-old to be so fire savvy? Playing card games and chatting by the fire, just us gals without any other distractions is something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. I wanted to share the outdoors with her and make memories that were positive and in nature, but I didn’t know how. Now I do.

What to know before camping in Banff

  • Equipped campsites are available from the end of June until mid-September.
  • There are 22 equipped campsites available in Banff National Park. Occupancy rates vary, so be sure to book in advance.
  • Equipped campsites are $55/night and include your camping permit and gear (excluding sleeping bags and cooking utensils).
  • You’ll still need a Park Pass to gain entry to the National Park and there’s an $8.80 daily fire permit you’ll have to purchase (at the campground entrance) if you want to make a fire.
  • Besides Banff, equipped campsites (and oTENTiks) are offered at several National Park campsites across Canada.

Thank you to Parks Canada for making my stay possible. As always, my opinions are my own.

About the Author:

I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.


  1. Colleen Lanin 20.07.2015 at 12:54 - Reply

    This sounds like my kind of camping!

    • Jody 20.07.2015 at 17:47 - Reply

      It is pretty sweet!

  2. Kyla Cornish 20.07.2015 at 22:00 - Reply

    This is soooo me. But ,I am going to do the YURT thing next!!!!ps I rented a trailer last year and it was the best thing that ever happened to our family. NO JOKE.

  3. Molly 21.07.2015 at 01:21 - Reply

    I love the National Parks in USA and Canada.
    They are so well organised as well as beautiful.
    I´d love to make it to Canada some day.

    • Jody 22.07.2015 at 13:18 - Reply

      With your American dollar, you could travel far here!

  4. Leigh 21.07.2015 at 18:08 - Reply

    Sounds like the perfect mother-daughter bonding time. I knew about Otentik but had no idea Parks offered tents as well. Figures you’d bring along a couple of logs!! Just FYI – lint is a great fire starter. Hope Nova Scotia is a great success.

    • Jody 22.07.2015 at 13:18 - Reply

      Lint! Genius. I have plenty of that!

  5. Michael Schuermann 22.07.2015 at 02:21 - Reply

    That looked like quite a mother and daughter adventure. Hats off to Parks Canada for making it “easy” for those who’ll be doing it for the first time.

    • Jody 22.07.2015 at 13:18 - Reply

      Yes, it truely was a lovely mother-daughter adventure!

  6. Miranda Post 22.07.2015 at 16:06 - Reply

    Jody – this sounds like the perfect solution for busy parents like us. We recently went camping with our own gear and realized we had a lot of gaps in our supplies. The tent set up looks pretty comfy. Did they supply the inflatable mattresses as well?

    • Jody 23.07.2015 at 14:27 - Reply

      You should try out the options at Elk Island National Park! Bet it would be perfect for your family.

  7. Meg Jerrard 23.07.2015 at 06:29 - Reply

    I love this idea of lazy camping!! And had totally never heard of it before, but I’m in! We’ve just spent a lot of time camping around the US and Canada, but it’s such a pain to have to clean the tent properly while you’re on the move. We actually ended up just throwing the tent at the end of our time in the US because we couldn’t get all the dirt cleaned off it before our flight to Aus.

    Too much hassle! So this sounds AMAZING!!! Thanks for the introduction :)SUCH a brilliant concept!

    • Jody 23.07.2015 at 14:27 - Reply

      Good for you for camping through the US and Canada! I know the cleaning of it can be a major pain!

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  9. scott 22.09.2015 at 02:50 - Reply

    Clicked this article as I thought it was Banff in Scottland!
    Looks just as beautiful though…and very similar landscape to some parts of Scotland.

    • Jody 22.09.2015 at 07:10 - Reply

      Yes, I agree! Although we don’t have such lush foliage in the Rockies, I do see the similarities. Thanks so much for commenting!

  10. Andrea Ouellette 07.07.2016 at 18:54 - Reply

    I’ve recently booked one of these sites as a first time camping experience. We are staying with some family in Banff, however they will not stay overnight at the site (not camping fans) and we won’t have a car. Is there a place provided to store food?

    • Jody 08.07.2016 at 16:37 - Reply

      As far as I know, with the equipped campsites offered by Parks Canada, there is no refrigeration offered. Some site might have food lockers though and you can always get a rope and string it up in the tree as you would in the backcountry. Email or call Parks in Banff and they’ll for sure be able to let you know your exact options.

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