Camping in Jasper – What are your options?

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updated January 1, 2020

Every summer tens of thousands of people’s summer vacation includes camping in Jasper National Park.  And what about you? 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 to follow:)

Campsites in Jasper – 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.

For your convenience, you’ll find your campsite options broken into two groups: those where you can reserve a spot, and those where you cannot.  (This information is accurate for the 2020 season.  Things can always change with Parks Canada and I recommend you check out the reservation system for up to date info).

If you happen to have a big RV and / or expect to partake in the camping luxuries of water and electricity these top campsites are you 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.

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Jasper Campgrounds that except reservations

If you are planning on camping in Jasper National Park for the 2020 season, the system will open on Tuesday January 7th, 2020 at 8am.  Do be aware that reservations for different national parks open on different days.

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.

The following campgrounds in this section all look pretty similar. You’ll find both densly treed areas and open areas. Parks Canada has been busy removing the dead Pine Beetle trees and planting new trees. However, all campsites are a decent distance from your neighbor (except the winter camping section at Wapiti – these are very snug and close). With the online reservation system there is an option to view images of each campsite.

Wapiti Campground (services)

Wapiti Campground is also close to town, Wapiti is the second largest campground with just under 400 sites.  Serviced winter camping is available here.  They have some electric sites, running water, flush toilets, shower facilities, and a brand new playground.  Wapiti sits beside the Athabasca River and has a nice walking path along the river and a bike trail into town.

Wabasso Campground (services)

Wabasso Campground is further from town (about a 25 minute drive to the town of Jasper) and can be less busy at times.  Cell reception might be sketchy at this campground.  They do have some electric hook ups, running water, flush toilets, and a playground.  Wabasso is also situated along the Athabasca River and has lovely trails along the water as well as large sandy beach areas along the river.

An orange tent set up at a campsite in Wabasso Campground, Jasper National Park

Pocahontas Campground (no services)

Pocahontas Campground –  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 Pocohontos Lodge, hotel, and restaurant which may have a phone for use if needed.

Whistlers Campground (currently under renovation)

Whistlers Campground is the largest campground with close to 800 sites.  It is close to town and has all services including water, sewage, electricity, playgrounds, running water and flush toilets, shower facilities, and interpretive programs. 

Currently, Whistlers is the only campground with full hook-up sites. They 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.

Here’s a full review of Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park.

VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Whistlers will be closed for the 2020 summer camping season for maintenance and renovations… hopefully it will be an even more exciting campground come summer 2021! 

kids playing badminton, playing on wooden structures, and in a creek at Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park
images of printable family camping checklists and planner pages

First-come / First-served Jasper campgrounds

If you happen to want to camp at one of these sites which don’t accept reservations, then there’s nothing you can do but cross your fingers and arrive early. Generally, the campgrounds further from town are less busy.

Arriving around check-out time (11am) can be helpful in getting a spot. Also, if you are driving around in your RV during the day you’ll want to bring something to visually claim the site with like a shade tent or camping chairs.

None of these campgrounds have running water or flush toilets. However, they all have outdoor taps for drinking water.

Snaring River Campground

Snaring River Campground is closest to the town of Jasper. It is a popular campground for last-minute campers.  They do not accept reservations for this campground, and use the overflow area here when all other campgrounds are full.  Snaring campground sits beside the Snaring River and it is lots of fun to play along the rocky shore .  Cell service is hit-and-miss here. There is no running water and pit toilets only.

Children walking along the river path at Snaring Campground in Jasper National Park

Kerkeslin Campground

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 and no running water.

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 is no running water and has 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, running water, 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: I have not actually checked this place out, but apparently, there is a site that holds 100 RVs. Hookups and firepits are not available here. This site is listed for trailers and RVs only.

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 actually… how can we know our schedules for next summer by Christmas?  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 the great 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 in January.  And, thousands of other campers know this too! So, here’s my number one tip for you and your family:  Reserve!  Reserve!  Reserve!


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).  Happy Camping!

What should you do now?

  • Join the Jasper monthly newsletter.  You’ll get up-to-date news, activity ideas, local’s tips, and some goodies delivered right to your inbox once each month.
  • Pin this article to your Canadian Rockies travel pinterest board so you’ll have the info when it comes time to plan your trip.

Other helpful Jasper National Park posts:

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18 comments

  1. HI im from Colombia.
    I know it’s probably a little late to find a RV reservation around the Jasper National Park for 8 RV’s!! Where do you suggest me to look for one, for this party size?

    1. Hi Fabian, you’re right, it will be a challenge to find a campground in Jasper with 8 available RV sites close together. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look! If you don’t need hookups and have smaller units you might still find something. However, if you need to look outside of the park, check out Mt. Robson’s Campground or Hinton. There is also a big campground out by Valemount. And, staying in Hinton is about an hour away from Jasper Townsite. Valemount is about 1.5 hour from Jasper Townsite.

  2. Hi from The Netherlands,
    We are planning to drive the 93 and visit 5 days between the end of April-28 and May 4 in a rented camper. Do you know campings that are open these days ?
    Thanks,
    Marco

    1. Hi Marco, Just a quick look at the park’s Canada website shows that most campgrounds in jasper are opening after May 6th. Here’s the link (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/jasper/activ/passez-stay/camping) However, Wapiti campground close to the town of Jasper does have winter camping open. If I were you I would look into making reservations for one of Wapiti’s winter camping spots. If you are looking for more information, please feel free to join the newsletter and hit respond to any of those emails and I can email you directly. https://www.subscribepage.com/jaspernewsletter Thanks for your question and happy travels!

    1. Hi Tami, even camping in Jasper in June can be busy, especially on the weekends. If you are looking for a site with hookups / services I’d recommend getting a reservation. However, if you are tenting and don’t have a strong preferences on the campground then you will likely be able to find a site by driving around to the non-reservable campsites.

  3. Thanks for the information. At the top, you mention reservations open for the Jasper campgrounds on January 8th, 2020. You might want to double check that – I’m finding they open on January 7th, 2020, 8am MST. I already have my sites picked out, and my alarm clock set…

    1. Hi Debbie, You are very right in noticing that error! Thankyou:) I’ve corrected that date and I do hope you have a wonderful time camping in Jasper National Park!

  4. Thank you for all the useful tips you’ve provided. I am camping during 4th week of September, a little late in the summer but it’s mainly so that I can avoid huge crowds. However the RV campgrounds are all booked which means I need to try my luck on first come first serve campgrounds.
    Once I claim the spot, can I leave the campsite and come back later? Or will I be risking someone else taking up the spot?

    1. I’d strongly recommend you leave a few chairs set up or a tarp and that will be a strong clue to other campers that you’ve already claimed that spot. When you pay for a site you’ll receive a little sheet of paper to clip onto the site post, but not everyone looks at that paper or the dates on it.

  5. Hi just to check for the campsite on first come first serve basis, do we need to make payment? Or we just have to arrive early to find a spot to rent up the tent?

    1. All Jasper campsites that are non-reservable will have a payment box at the entrance to the campground (as of 2019). You’ll want to bring cash in small denominations so that you can put the exact value into the envelope. Then, at some point in the evening, a park’s staff will do the rounds to make sure that all campsites have been paid for. Usually we’ll arrive, drive around and decide which site we want, set up some of our gear, go to the payment box and put our money in the envelope, then return to our site with our camping payment slip and continue setting up the rest of the tent. Don’t make the mistake of paying for the site without ‘claiming’ it or leaving someone at the site while you go register.

  6. Thank you for all the information you provide. We had hoped to camp in Jasper in July. We are from New Zealand and had no idea finding a campsite for our tiny tent would be so difficult. Re: Jasper Campground which do not accept reservations: No running water? Can you drink water from the Rivers?
    Regards,
    Jo

    1. Hi Jo, Please feel free to email me (Jenn @ TakeThemOutside.com) and we can discuss in more detail. But, yes, there are a few campgrounds in Jasper that do not accept reservations. They operate on a first come first serve basis, and having only a tent will increase your odds of finding a spot. And, no, do not drink water from the rivers unless you plan to properly sterilize it with tablets, a water filter system, or boiling. All the campgrounds have water taps for drinking water.

  7. Hi, thank you for this information. Do you have rule of thumb for when you should be at the first come first serve sites to get a tent camping spot? Is 8:00 generally early enough, or should you arrive at 6:00?

    Thank you,

    Paige

    1. Hi Paige, that’s a hard question. If the campsite was full the night before, then it would be best to arrive about 20 minutes before checkout time (which is usually 11am). Otherwise, yes, arriving early to drive through looking for spots is a good idea. Most people have a long drive to get to Jasper, so I don’t really see the benefit in going at 6am, but 8 should be good.

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