Note: This article was last updated January 20 2024.
Every summer tens of thousands of people’s summer vacation includes camping in Jasper National Park. Given you’ve arrive at this article, I’m guessing you’re thinking about doing some Jasper Camping as well?
This post will give you some basic starting points for choosing a campground to make sure you get the most out of your trip to this beautiful park.
And, in case you’re burning to know the answer to this question- Do you need a reservation to camp in Jasper National Park? …yes you do, probably. More details on that below!
Jasper National Park Campgrounds – What are your options?
Perhaps I’m a bit biased, living here and all, but Jasper really is a lovely place to stay and visit. There are a handful of camping options and many other sleeping choices if camping isn’t your jam. Below you’ll find a basic list of camp sites within Jasper National Park.
Reservable campsites and non-reservable campsites:
For your convenience, the campsite options are broken into two groups: those where you can reserve a spot, and those where you cannot. (This information is accurate for the 2024 season. Things can always change with Parks Canada and I recommend you check out the reservation system for up-to-date info).
Looking to camp with an RV or trailer?
If you happen to have a big RV and / or expect to partake in the camping luxuries of water and electricity the campsites at the top of the list are your best options. But if you’re happy tenting or have a smaller unit, you will have more luck finding spots at the first-come sites.
Jasper Campgrounds that accept reservations
If you are planning on camping in Jasper National Park for the 2024 season, the system will open on January 30th, at 8am (Mountain Standard Time). Do be aware that reservations for different national parks and frontcountry / backcountry options open on different days.
Reservations go fast!
Words of caution: be quick! The camping spots fill up fast. Like, really fast! Last year I was on my computer 10 minutes after the reservation system opened and many of the popular campgrounds were already 75% full.
Whistlers Campground (services)
Whistlers Campground is the largest campground in Jasper National Park with close to 800 sites. It is closest to town and has all services including water, sewage, electricity, playgrounds, running water and flush toilets, shower facilities, and interpretive programs. You can also access the bike trails to get to and from Jasper townsite without having to bike/walk on the roads.
Updated 2024: The Municipality of Jasper started operating a municipal public transit bus that now makes stops at Whistlers Campground, making it easy to get into town and not need to worry about parking when you arrive in town.
Currently, Whistlers is the only campground in Jasper with full hook-up sites. Whistlers also have a number of pull-through spots for large units.
If you want a full-hook up site for the busy summer months of July or August, you should be planning to make your reservations within the hour of the reservation system opening!
Through 2020-2022, Whistlers underwent upgrades and a lot of de-treeing . Not only did they re-pave and upgrade all the bathroom facilities, they also removed all pine beetle killed trees. Be aware that if you book into the fully serviced loops you’ll be quite exposed without any large trees on your sites. While they have planted trees, it’ll be years before those little guys start providing some privacy or shade.
Currently, the fully-serviced loop looks like a large field. But, you’ll have a nice new bathroom to use and the roadways will be freshly paved… and you won’t be at risk of having a dead tree fall on you or your camper! Also, you’ll now have unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains! … and the trees are nearby, just not by your camper.
The majority of tree-removal happened in the area of loops 1-13 and 50-59. But, I think they’ve thinned any problem trees all throughout the campground. I suggest you look closely at the campsite photographs when reserving if this is important to you.
READ MORE: Here’s a full review of Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park. You’ll also find many more photos of the campground and facilities here.
Wapiti Campground (services)
Wapiti Campground is also close to town, Wapiti is the second largest campground with just over 350 sites. Wapiti is about a 6 minute drive from Jasper townsite, down the Icefields Parkway. And is also accessible by gravel and dirt walking / bike trail.
Updated 2024: Wapiti campground is also included in the new Jasper Public Transit route. Meaning, you can catch a ride into town on the bus and avoid the hassle of paying for and finding parking in jasper town.
Serviced winter camping is available at Wapiti Campground. They have some electric sites, running water, flush toilets, shower facilities, and a nice and big playground. Wapiti sits beside the Athabasca River and has a lovely walking path along the river and access to a bike trail into town.
Over the winter of 2020/21, Parks removed many dead trees from Wapiti campground. And, Wapiti is looking quite ravaged. In fact, we cancelled our camping trip here 2 summers ago once we got to see our site and realized the weather was calling for +35 degrees with absolutely no trees for shade or tarps.
Again, I suggest you look closely at the campground photographs before reserving.
Wabasso Campground (services)
Wabasso Campground is further from town (about a 25 minute drive from the town of Jasper) and can be less busy at times. Cell reception might be sketchy at this campground, but I haven’t had any reception problems in the past few years, so perhaps that’s better now. They do have some electric hook ups, water taps, new bathroom buildings with hot water and flush toilets, and there’s a playground.
Wabasso is situated along the Athabasca River and has a lovely trail along the water as well as large sandy beach areas along the river when the water levels are lower.
Parks Canada has also been removing pine beetle killed trees here. And some of the sites do feel bare. However, I think that because the sites here tend to be more spaced out and there’s more underbrush, the sites didn’t feel too bare.
I do like Wabasso for it’s sense of more space and privacy. Plus, there’s this super cool lean-to fort thing hiding over between the river path and the more central A loop that the kids always love to explore.
Miette Campground (no services)
Miette Campground – (Formally named Pocahontas) is close to Jasper National Park’s eastern gate (about a 40 minute drive to the town of Jasper). There are no services here, but they do have flush toilets. There is no cell reception, but you are close to the Miette Lodge, hotel, and restaurant which may have a phone for use if needed.
Non-Reservable (First-Come-First-Served) Campgrounds in Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park has seven non-reservable campgrounds. One of these, Snaring, is close to the townsite and the remaining non-reservable campgrounds are located along the Icefield’s Parkway south to Banff.
If you happen to want to camp at one of these sites which don’t accept reservations, there’s nothing you can do but cross your fingers and arrive early. Generally, the campgrounds further from town are less busy.
None of the non-reservable campgrounds have running water or flush toilets. I believe all have have drinking water taps.
Other than Snaring’s overflow area and the Icefield’s RV parking lot, many of these following campgrounds are not ideal for large RV units. Parks recommends nothing over 25-27 feet. These smaller campgrounds tend to have large overhanging trees, narrow roadways, and uneven, small parking areas with limited space for maneuvering.
Tips for Getting a Campsite at a non-reservable Campground:
It seems there are 2 types of ‘check-out’ campers: those that like to leave super early and get a head start on the day, and those that enjoy staying at the campground as long as possible.
Taking a drive through the campground between 8-9am might help you snag an early departing campsite. Otherwise, I’d suggest arriving before checkout time (11am) and hopefully you’ll find a vacated spot.
If you plan to explore Jasper for the day and are driving around in your camper van or RV you’ll want to bring something to visually claim the site you are reserving by setting up a shade tent or camping chairs. (Although, I’ll admit, I once witnessed an eager camper remove my camp chairs and chuck them into the bush… so he could claim the spot!)
Snaring River Campground
Snaring River Campground is the closest non-reservable campground to the town of Jasper. This is a popular campground for last-minute campers because the overflow camping area is here as well.
There are some very lovely spots with views of the river. But, these spots are hard to get. Most of the sites are well-treed, well-spaced for privacy, and have good wide gravel pads for RVs and trailers.
Snaring campground sits beside the Snaring River and it’s lots of fun to play along the rocky shore when the river isn’t raging. Cell service is hit-and-miss at Snaring (we seem to get better luck on the river’s bank or on the metal bridge). There is no running water at Snaring and stinky pit toilets only.
In the last few years Parks Canada has upgraded the ‘over-flow’ area of Snaring. Many of the sites in the overflow are very close and crowded, but the sites along the periphery may have some trees, more privacy, and there is a wall of trees behind those outer ring sites. And, if you’re lucky, some of the overflow sites are actually very lovely and sit down close to the river!
Campfires are not permitted in the overflow area of Snaring.
Kerkeslin Campground is an often overlooked campground, but is a beautiful spot. It is conveniently close to Athabasca Falls on the Icefields Parkway. There is a large sandy beach along the Athabasca River and can be fun for kids to play on the sandy shore (if the water is low). It can feel more secluded here and is often less busy. There are only pit toilets at Kerkeslin.
Honeymoon Lake Campground
Honeymoon Lake Campground – As the name suggests, this campsite is at Honeymoon Lake, further down the Icefields Parkway. Unfortunately there is not a beach at this site, but the lake is great for paddling. There is also a very large climbing rock that younger kids will have fun playing on and around. This campground only has pit toilets and no running water.
Jonas Creek Campground
Jonas Creek Campground is Jasper National Park’s smallest campsite with only 25 sites. It is closer to the Icefields Center and can be cooler because of this. There are pit toilets only.
Icefields and Wilcox Campgrounds
Columbia Icefield, and Wilcox Campgrounds – These campgrounds are smaller with just under 100 sites combined. They are both close to the Icefields Center and because of their high elevation and proximity to the glacier, expect it to be cooler here all times of the year. There are no hook-ups or flush toiltets, but Wilcox does have a sewer dump station. Icefields campground is tiered up the hillside providing many sites with views of the Columbia Glacier and can be a lovely spot to tent at.
The Icefields campground is listed as a tent-only site; however if I remember correctly, we have seen small vans and tiny trailers in here. But, do know that maneuvering space is very limited.
Icefields Center RV Site: This is a large paved parking lot that holds 100 RVs. Hookups and firepits are not available here. This site is listed for trailers and RVs only. While you might be camping in a parking lot (because you are), you do get a great view of the Icefields.
Do you really need to reserve a campsite for Jasper National Park?
Well, ultimately, this is up to you. My advice? Yes, you need a reservation. I can’t image how upsetting it would be to travel all this distance just to spend the day driving around to all the non-reservable sites trying to find availability.
Do I make reservations? I sure do! And I hate it… how can we know our schedules for next summer so early? Craziness! And, then to coordinate our uncertain calendars with the busy uncertain calendars of our camping friends, ludicrous! But, we love camping. Our friends love camping. We want some decent camping spots.
And, the only way to get the great camping spots in Jasper National Park is to reserve those spots when the reservation system opens up. And, thousands of other campers know this too! So, here are my top three tips for you and your family: #1. Reserve! #2. Reserve! #3. Reserve!
Oh, by the way, if you happen to have not reserved and you’re here looking for a place to spend the night, remember that camping in road-side pull-outs is illegal, as is spending the night in parking lots… even if you get the impression from Facebook groups that this is an okay thing to do.
I hope that this post has encouraged you to both consider camping in Jasper National Park, but also encouraged you to get your summer planning in order and make that very important reservation as early in the year as possible. You won’t regret it! (and even if you do, there’s a reasonable cancellation policy – which really aught to not be so reasonable, but that’s a whole other topic). Happy Camping!