Camping the Rockies: Backpacking in Banff

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Monday, May 24th, 2010

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Banff National Park offers great camping in the Rockies, with some of the world’s best scenery, abundant wildlife, amazing wildflowers and inspiring peaks. While some of the campgrounds are just off the main roads and have parking lots, others require a little backpacking. has put together a few selections of camping/backpacking trips. Here are a few choices of what you can do with five or more days and a backpack in Banff National Park. Seasonal restrictions can apply to some of these trails, so click here to make sure yours is open.

Sawback Trail

The sites of the Rockies are best seen by train.

This trail takes you over through inspiring mountain passes, as it crosses a good portion of Banff National Park, linking the town sites of Banff and Lake Louise. You can get on the trail at Mt. Norquay ski area or the Fish Creek trailhead. Parts of the trail see traffic from guided horse trips, which is great if you like horses. There are several camping options here – including a possible 7-day trip.

Campsites: Mystic Junction – Night 1; Larry’s camp – Night 2; Johnston Creek or Luellen Lake Night 3; Badger Pass – Night 4; Wildflower Creek – Night 5; Baker Lake – Night 6.

Distance: 74 km

Elevation gain: 734 m

Banff and Mount Assiniboine Mystic Pass – Flint’s Park – Badger Pass

You’ll want seven days to get the most from this trip, a great loop that starts and ends at Johnston Canyon. Enjoy subalpine meadows on the way to Flint’s Park, and cross the remote Mystic and Badger Passes. Badger The passes can be blocked by a huge snow cornice even into the summer months. This trail also sees its share of guided horse trips.

Campsites: Larry’s Camp – Night 1; Mystic Valley – Night 2; Flint’s Park – Night 3; Block Lakes Junction – Night 4; Badger Pass Junction – Night 5; Johnston Creek Night 6; Larry’s Camp – Night 7.

Distance: 76.4 km

Elevation gain: 2175m

Camp Banff

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