Why Banff and Jasper National Parks are great for backpackers (with advice endorsed by Reddit)


Walking through Banff and Jasper National Parks is an amazing experience, and it can be done safely, according to Reddit.

Hiking allows travelers to commune one-on-one with nature in a way that hiking does not. While the hike typically includes a day of trekking or maybe several, the hike usually indicates a trip of several days or more. National parks are great for these kinds of trips, especially for beginners, because of their busy trails and notoriety with locals and visitors alike.

Banff and Jasper National Parks are perfect for hiking and give way to incredible sites in the Canadian territory of Alberta. Scenic views abound and the trails take hikers along rivers, lakes, waterfalls and even mountain peaks. These are just the aesthetic reasons Banff and Jasper are great for backpackers – there are so many more, according to Reddit.


Related: Jasper Vs. Banff National Park: Which One Should Be On Your List?

Why Banff and Jasper are so good for hiking

Both of these national parks are vast, spanning distances that even some US national parks would find themselves swallowed up. There are over ten potential routes that hikers can take through the parks, which include various hiking trails that wind through each park. Backpackers have the option of staying at campsites throughout the park, all of which are clearly marked on trail maps, or stopping in the town of Jasper or Banff for the night before continuing.

While the hikes are necessarily easy, the reassurance of knowing that these two parks are very busy and that towns exist just outside of them is useful for new backpackers. That being said, backpackers should always be prepared to deal with wildlife, potential weather conditions, and variations in terrain and elevation. Overall, Banff and Jasper are both safe for backpackers and, according to Reddit, are great for a number of overnight hikes.

Be aware of the wildlife, but don’t be afraid of it

One of the biggest questions asked on Reddit regarding hiking – especially solo – through Banff or Jasper is whether or not wildlife is a concern. Both parks are home to grizzly bears and black bears, both of which have very different temperaments and should be treated as such. Reddit recommends carrying bear spray regardless of the length of the hike or the distance, because you can never be too careful. Additionally, elk are occasionally seen on the trails and can be unpredictable if caught. However, even with that being said, both parks offer incredible insight into the wildlife living in each, making them a favorite among habitat-conscious hikers.

  • Reddit recommends: Bring bear spray and make noise whenever hikers turn a corner that is filled with brush or may be hidden by trees. Hikers should also make sure all campsites are bear-proof, which means no food is left out, and bring bear kibble if that’s an option.
  • Momentum problems: Give elk plenty of room.
  • Bear problems: Be careful not to scare the bears away. Black bears are more afraid of humans and generally run away, while grizzly bears can be aggressive. Both species can be aggressive if they are with cubs.

Hikers are rarely alone

The good thing about hiking in parks that welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors each year is that backpackers will never be really alone. Unless a hiker intends to hike the backcountry (which requires permits) the trails are generally fairly well marked. While this could be seen as a downside to hiking through Banff and Jasper, for most people it is a relief not to be completely alone in the Alberta wilderness. The quietest time in the park will be at night when the day hikers are gone for the day, and only those camping in the park are left.

If backpackers aren’t camping in the parks, they will go out at dusk with day hikers – so always close to other people without feeling completely isolated.

  • Reddit recommends: The two parks are far apart and cell service is spotty; While hikers aren’t necessarily alone on the trails, there will be times when they will be isolated and should always let someone know their destination (along with the route, if possible) before setting out.

Where to stay while hiking in Banff and / or Jasper

The hike may involve either camping on the trail, stopping, or spending the night in accommodations such as a hostel or bed and breakfast. The consensus is that Jasper National Park offers more privacy and is slightly less crowded than Banff, and, as an added bonus, its accommodations are also slightly more affordable.

For those planning on camping, either park will do, but Reddit suggests trying ‘car camping’ so you can jump on a campsite as soon as another group leaves.

  • Reddit recommends: Consider booking an overnight hotel in Canmore and taking the bus (ten minutes) to Banff. Calgary is also affordable and about an hour outside of both. Finally, for those who hike in Jasper, Marmot Lodge and the Mount Robinson Inn are economical; the town of Hinton is another option for those who hike in Jasper.

Next: Next Time In Alberta Avoid Banff And Check Out These National Parks Instead


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