Camping in Jasper was surprisingly a lot more pleasant than I thought it would be! Considering my last camping experience was at Oxygen years and years ago, I thought that camping with bears would be much worse, but it turns out, camping at Oxygen was!
I am by no means an expert on camping but I have compiled a short list of tips that may help any first time visitors camping in Jasper. I definitely recommend it, it is lots of fun and made all the more pleasant by having clean bathrooms and hot showers on the campgrounds!
1. Getting There
As with most National Parks in Canada, you have to pay an entrance fee. The daily pass for a group is $19.60 per day. You can also buy an annual pass for $136.40. The good news is the Government of Canada announced that there will be free admission to National Parks in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. So for us, as we bought an annual pass on our visit to Jasper last month, instead of it been valid until 2017, it will now be valid until 2018.
2. Reserve Your Site in Advance
During the summer these campsites sell out fast, so be sure and book in advance. One site will cost you roughly $38 and if you cancel there is a small cancelation fee. Each site allows three items only. By this I mean, either two tents and one vehicle, or one vehicle and two tents. There are campground staff that check to make sure people are abiding by this rule.
3. Try To Get A Site With A Fire Pit
What’s camping without a fire pit?! After a long day of hiking or canoeing you will be grateful of the fire. When you are choosing your site you can narrow your search to show you sites with or without fire pits. If you do opt for a fire pit, then you will have to pay for a fire permit, which will cost an additional $10.
Bring a hatchet. Large sticks are provided, but you will want to cut some starter sticks to get the fire going quicker. We had no hatchet the first time we went, so we just smoked our neighbours out of it for a while before the fire eventually lit!
4. Wapiti vs. Whistler Campground
These are not the only campgrounds in Jasper, but they are the only two that we have stayed at. These were our preferred campgrounds as they have showers and not all campgrounds in Jasper do, so remember this when you are reserving!
You are surrounded by lots of other campers and…maybe some bears… The sites are usually a comfortable distance apart, so you are not on top of your neighbours. Some sites are separated by trees, which offer more privacy, but it is very hard to tell exactly what the site is like until you get there.
Both sites are well equipped with clean bathrooms, hot water, and shower facilities. Wapiti campground even has hand dryers!
5. Bring A Tarp
You will want to sit around the fire in the evening and this is no fun if it’s raining. So do like our friend Martin and buy yourself a 50ft tarp and you will be sure to keep yourself dry while you sit around the fire enjoying a few beers! OK, so you may not need one this big normally, but a large tarp is good if there are a group of people.
6. Don’t Forget the Bear Spray…
You will be told on arrival to the campground how important it is to have all your food and drink either properly disposed of or kept in your vehicle when you are away from your site. When we went camping in August we were told that there was a bear on the campground but he didn’t come to visit us!
If you are planning on hiking, it is recommended that you bring bear spray. Some people also bring bear bells. The idea of bear bells is so the bear will hear you coming and hopefully move away, rather than been suddenly surprised by you. They prefer to avoid people, so the idea is they will move away from the noise. This is completely optional and we opted for both!
7. Bring Extra Blankets
So I am a one of those people who is always cold, but it is better to be prepared, right?! It gets cold in the tent at night, so you may need more than just a sleeping bag.
8. Plan Ahead
If you are going to Jasper, you are going to enjoy the outdoors. Whether it is kayaking, hiking, white water rafting or enjoying the Miette Hot Springs, there is plenty to do! As some of these activities are not very close to some of the campgrounds, then be sure and remember to check out driving distance between them if you are trying to squeeze lots in!
9. You Don’t Have to Cook Over the Camp Fire!
If you are camping for a couple of nights, then take one of those nights off from camp fire cooking and go into Jasper town to check out all the restaurants! We headed to Karouzos Steakhouse, really great food and a menu to suit everybody.
If you are looking for a good breakfast, then definitely go to Papa George’s Restaurant. They have the nicest breakfast burrito on their menu!
10. Enjoy Your Surroundings!
Last, but most importantly, relax with a wee drink. I recommend a hot whiskey, again because I am always cold, but just enjoy the fact that you are lucky enough to be camping in the Rockies!