National Park Backcountry Permit Online Reservation Instructions

  • Create your GDT itinerary with a complete list of all National Park (NP) campgrounds to be used on your trip. Build some flexibility into your itinerary in case any campgrounds are not available.
  • Thru-hikers planning a long-distance trek through multiple national parks are recommended to reserve campgrounds online where available and then if necessary, call each applicable national park visitor centre to complete other required campground reservations, including random camping locations, and request reimbursement for any duplicate reservation fees.
  • Note the opening dates and times for NP online reservations and be prepared to make reservations as soon as they open. For 2020, Jasper reservations open on January 22 at 8:00am MST followed by Banff/Kootenay/Yoho reservations one day later on January 23 at 8:00am MST.
  • IMPORTANT: Make reservations for the most popular campgrounds in your itinerary as soon as reservations open on Day 1. See the chart below for campground popularity ratings.
  • Ensure you have created a ‘My Parks Canada Reservation Account’ (MPCRA) in advance of reservations opening. It is highly recommended that you login to the system prior to reservations opening and practice using the system.
  • On opening day, just before 8:00am MST, login to the Parks Canada Reservation Service using your MPCRA using your GCKey or Sign-in Partner.

NP reservations

Follow these steps to find and reserve a Site:

  1. Pick your reservation type = Backcountry Camping
  2. Pick your arrival date = the start date of your permit in the applicable national park
  3. Pick your park and backcountry experience. For Jasper there are four relevant options: “Brazeau Trail”, “Maligne Pass Trail”, “Skyline Trail”, or “North Boundary and Celestine Lake Trails”. For Banff, Kootenay and Yoho Backcountry there is only one option: “All Campgrounds”.
  4. Pick your site requirements = party size (usually 1 or 2) and tent pads (usually 1)
  5. Pick your site for each night = Begin creating your campground selections for your permit, starting with selecting your Access Point. For example, in Jasper, NOBO thru-hikers will use Nigel Pass Trailhead. In Banff, NOBO thru-hikers will use the Palliser Pass Access Point.
National ParkBackcountry ExperienceAccess Point - NOBOAccess Point - SOBO
JasperBrazeau TrailNigel Pass TrailheadPoboktan Trailhead
Maligne Pass TrailPoboktan TrailheadMaligne Lake Trailhead
Skyline TrailMaligne Lake TrailheadSignal Trailhead
North Boundary and Celestine Lake TrailsMount Robson Trailhead*Not available online; call Jasper Visitor Centre
BanffAll CampgroundsPalliser Pass Access PointHawk Creek Trailhead
Kootenay/YohoAll CampgroundsFloe Lake TrailheadOttertail River Trailhead
  • Continue adding campground reservations to your itinerary one at a time. If a campground isn’t available on your preferred date, you may need to backtrack and modify your itinerary to correspond to campground availability. Use the reservation map, availability list, and availability calendar to create or modify your itinerary.
    • The reservation map is probably the most useful as it shows campground locations, colour-coded to indicate availability, as well as Access Points. Hovering over a specific campground will show you how many tent pads remain on your selected date, which is particularly useful if your preferred campground choice isn’t available and you need to find another campground nearby.
    • The availability list shows all available campgrounds on a specific date, including how many tent pads are available in each campground.
    • The availability calendar allows you to see campground availability over a range of dates. Hovering over a specific date will show you how many tent pads remain. The calendar feature is helpful when creating or modifying your itinerary.
  • For Jasper reservations:
    • If you plan to use any “Very High” popularity campgrounds on the Skyline Trail you must make reservations as soon as they open on Day 1. Start with “Skyline Trail” as your Backcountry Experience using Maligne Lake Trailhead (NOBO) or Signal Trailhead (SOBO) as your Access Point. Select all of your required Skyline Trail campgrounds and check out. This will cost an extra $11 reservation fee, but it gives you the best chance to secure sites on the Skyline Trail. NOTE if you only plan to only use medium popularity campgrounds on the Skyline, you should be able to book Brazeau, Maligne Pass and Skyline Trail campgrounds in a single reservation.
    • After booking your Skyline campgrounds, create a second trip to reserve your Brazeau/Maligne Pass campgrounds. NOBO hikers start with “Brazeau Trail” as your Backcountry Experience using Nigel Pass as your Access Point, while SOBO hikers start with “Maligne Pass Trail” as your Backcountry Experience using Maligne Lake Trailhead as your Access Point. Continue adding campground reservations to your itinerary one at a time, noting that flexibility may be required subject to campground availability.
    • Once you’ve reserved all required campgrounds on the Brazeau Trail, you will need to change your Backcountry Experience to “Maligne Pass Trail” followed by “Skyline Trail” (if staying at medium popularity campgrounds) and continue adding campground reservations to your itinerary one at a time to create a single contiguous reservation.
    • If you wish to hike the Six-Passes Alternate Route, you will need to call the Jasper Visitor Centre. Currently there is only one permit available per day, with a maximum stay of one night.
    • For campgrounds north of Jasper townsite, including the Elysium Pass Alternate, Parks Canada recommends calling the Jasper Visitor Centre. Have your permit number ready and request these additional campground reservations be added to your existing permit.
  • For Banff, Kootenay and Yoho reservations:
    • If you plan to use any “Very High” or “High” popularity campgrounds, online reservations are recommended as soon as they open on Day 1. Select “All Campgrounds” as your Backcountry Experience using Palliser Pass Access Point (NOBO) or Ottertail River Trailhead (SOBO). Continue adding campground reservations to your itinerary one at a time, noting that flexibility may be required subject to campground availability.
    • To increase your chances of getting sites on the popular Rockwall Trail, you should consider reserving these sites first by making a separate reservation as soon as they open on Day 1. Select “All Campgrounds” as your Backcountry Experience using Floe Lake Trailhead as your Access Point (NOBO) or Ottertail River Trailhead (SOBO). Select all of your required campgrounds between Floe Lake Trailhead and Ottertail River Trailhead, and check out. This will cost an extra $11 reservation fee, but it gives you the best chance to secure sites on the Rockwall Trail.
    • In Banff/Kootenay/Yoho, you can use the “Out of Park” feature to indicate a night outside of the park without having to create a separate reservation. This feature is most commonly used for itineraries that include an overnight stay in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park or in the Banff townsite.
    • NOTE: Parks Canada suggests it might be easiest to call the Banff or Lake Louise Visitor Centre and book all Banff, Kootenay and Yoho campgrounds by phone, but you can expect very busy phone lines on Day 1 and you might miss your ideal dates at the busiest campgrounds.
  • If you receive an error indicating that “the route you have chosen is not possible in daylight hours” you will either have to select a closer campground or complete your current reservation and begin a new online reservation using the nearest trailhead/access point where you left off. Sometimes there will be no way to avoid this error and the only solution is to call a parks visitor centre directly to reserve your preferred campground. Currently, this error is most common trying to book campgrounds between Banff and Kootenay national parks, e.g. Ball Pass Junction to Floe Lake.
  • For Random Camping Permits or reservations at campgrounds not available in the online system (see chart below), you must call a national park visitor centre directly. Parks Canada asks that you call a day to two after opening day when staff are slightly less busy. Have your permit number ready and ask the Parks Canada employee to add additional reservations to your existing permit and reimburse any duplicate reservation fees.
  • Random camping is allowed on the following sections of the GDT within national parks but a Random Camping Permit is still required: Amiskwi valley in Yoho; Howse Pass Trail and Owen Creek in Banff; Miette River Trail, Colonel Pass, Calumet, Six-Passes Alternate Route and Elysium Pass Alternate in Jasper.
  • For changes en-route, visit a national park visitor centre or a Backcountry Park Warden may be able to revise your Backcountry Permit.
National Park CampgroundsPopularity
BANFF:
Ball Pass Junction, Egypt Lake Campground and Shelter, Howard Douglas LakeHigh
Big Springs, Birdwood, Bryant Creek Shelter, Burstall, Healy Creek, Marvel Lake, McBride’s CampLow
Random Camping locations: Howse floodplain, Owen CreekVery low* – not available online, call Lake Louise Visitor Centre
KOOTENAY:
Floe LakeVery High
Helmet Falls, Numa Creek, Tumbling CreekHigh
YOHO:
Little Yoho, Yoho LakeHigh
McArthur CreekLow
Random Camping locations: Amiskwi valleyVery low* – not available online, call Yoho or Lake Louise Visitor Centre
JASPER:
Curator, Snowbowl, TekarraVery High (will likely fill within 30 minutes on opening day)
Four Point, Jonas Cutoff, Little ShovelHigh
Avalanche, Maligne Pass North (camp at any of these campgrounds for one night: Mary Schäffer, Mary Vaux, Trapper Creek)High* – limited use, only 1 permit available per day
Six-Passes Route (restricted Random Camping)High* – limited use, only 1 permit available per day; Not available online, call Jasper Visitor Centre
Boulder Creek, Evelyn Creek, Poboktan, Signal, Watchtower, WaterfallsMedium
Adolphus, Minnow LakeLow
Chown Creek, Wolverine NorthLow* – available online for dates after August 15; for earlier dates call Jasper Visitor Centre
Timothy Slides (horse campground, but hikers are allowed to camp here)Low* – not available online, call Jasper Visitor Centre
Random Camping locations: Elysium Pass, Miette Lake, Colonel Pass, CalumetVery low* – not available online, call Jasper Visitor Centre

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