On Thursdays, I write about RV travel in Canada.
RVing in Canada’s national parks requires patience, deep pockets, and a lack of expectations.
Taking as an example popular locale, Lake Louise in Banff National Park, the unsuspecting RVer enters “camping Lake Louise” into a search engine. One of the first links is for the Parks Canada website for camping in Banff National Park. It provides a list of campgrounds within the park. The user scrolls down and finds the Lake Louise RV camping section, learning that the the site offers electric hookups only for $32.30 per night. The RVer finds that a bit steep for power only, but it’s Lake Louise! At the bottom of a chart is a link for reserving a spot, something that is recommended in the high season.
The reservation link takes the RVer to the website for the Parks Canada Campground Reservation Service. There, the user can select a language and a pop up appears informing potential campers that no reservations can be taken at this time.
Undeterred, the RVer goes back to the campground information page to learn more about Banff and Lake Louise. There, the user follows the link for general camping information and stops cold at these words: Campers must purchase a camping permit at the campground kiosk or at the self -registration kiosk. Campers have the option of purchasing a fire permit at these locations as well and must have a valid Park Pass to camp.
The words ‘Park Pass’ are a clickable link.
Clicking on this link takes the RVer to the Banff National Park ‘Buying a Park Pass‘ page. This page has some numbers on it, but advises the curious to click on ‘Fees’ (in the side bar as it turns out) for a complete list. Not wanting any surprises, the RVer goes to the Banff National Park Fees page. There, the RVer learns that an additional fee of $9.80 daily per person, or $19.60 for a group of up to seven, must be acquitted in addition to the nightly camping fee. At least, GST is included. So, camping at Lake Louise for the family of four costs $51.80 per night. They’re going for one week and don’t plan to stay in other national parks that year, but there is a annual family park access rate of $136.40. Could that be cheaper than the daily rate of $19.60? Yes, by 80 cents, not worth filling out the paper work.
So, wow, $51.80 per night for electrical hookups only, but, hey, this is Lake Louise! In Banff National Park! The setting will be worth it!
Sometime later, the family gets through the Parks Canada reservation system and arrives in Banff, excited to set up in the beautiful mountainous surroundings.
Only to discover that the Lake Louise RV campground is on a slab of pavement with no trees.
There is a moral to this story: when RVing through Canada, support private campgrounds. They are more likely to be located in a beautiful setting and affordable. This example of camping at Lake Louise is not an exception. It is possible within the Parks Canada setting to pay $40 or more per night and not have any hookups at all.Share on Facebook