Camping in Jasper? You absolutely need to know this!

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Thousands of people’s summer vacation includes camping in Jasper National Park.  In fact, I read somewhere that Jasper is home to Canada’s largest campground.  And what about you?    If you’re planning to bring your family out to Jasper and hoping that you’ll be able to grab a camping site the day you arrive… well, you may want to rethink your plans!  

If you plan to go camping in Jasper, then you really should get a campsite reservation!

an orange tent at a wooden campsite, text reads will you be making camping reservations in Jasper National Park?

I wont’ know when you’re reading this, but here as I write, the snow is falling, the temperature is dropping, and thinking about sleeping in a tent is far from my mind! 

But this snow won’t last forever and come spring you’ll be eager to sit down with friends, your calendars, and start marking off all potential camping weekends.

However, to really do things right, we should actually be looking at our calendars in December!

We’re a family of five.  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!


images of printable family camping checklists and planner pages


Do you really need to reserve a campsite for Jasper National Park?

If you happen to want to camp at one of the sites which don’t accept reservations, then no worries, there’s nothing you can do but cross your fingers and arrive early.

But, if you happen to have a big RV and / or expect to partake in the camping luxuries of water and electricity, then using the Parks Canada reservation system is a must!

If you are planning on camping in Jasper National Park for the 2019 season, the system will open on January 8th, 2019 at 8am.  Do be aware that reservations for different national parks open on different days.

Word 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.


For your convenience, you’ll find all the Jasper National Park campsite options broken into two groups: those where you can reserve a spot, and those where you cannot.  (This information is accurate for the 2019 season.  Things can always change with Parks Canada and I recommend you check out the reservation system for up to date info).


Camping in Jasper – What are your options?

Reservations can be made for these Jasper campgrounds:

Whistlers Campground – This 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, and interpretive programs.  Whistlers is the only campground with full hook-up sites.  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 2019 summer camping season for maintenance and renovations… hopefully it will be an even more exciting campground come summer 2020! 

Wapiti Campground – 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, and a brand new playground.  Wapiti sits beside the Athabasca River and has a nice walking path along the river.

Wabasso Campground – This campground is further from town and can be less busy at times.  There is no cell reception at this campground (if I remember correctly?)  They do have some electric hook ups, running water, and flush toilets.  Wabasso is also situated along the Athabasca River and has lovely trails along the water.

Pocahontas Campground –  Pocahontas is close to Jasper National Park’s eastern gate.  There are no services here, but they do have flush toilets.


Jasper campgrounds which do not accept reservations:

Snaring River Campground – Closer to town, Snaring 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 .  There is no running water and pit toilets only.

Kerkeslin Campground – This often overlooked campground is close to Athabasca Falls on the Icefields Parkway.  It is beside 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 – 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 kids will have fun playing on and around.  This campground only has pit toilets and no running water.

Jonas Creek Campground – This 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.

Columbia Icefield, and Wilcox Campgrounds – These campgrounds are smaller with just under 100 sites combined.  They are both next 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.

various images of campgrounds in Jasper National park - a path, a picnic table with elk nearby, a playground, and a camping roadsign
Various sights at campgrounds in Jasper National Park


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:

a road sign pointed to a campground. text reads camping in jasper national park, do you really need reservations?

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

    1. Hi Jo, Please feel free to email me (Jenn @ 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.

  4. 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,


    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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