Within Banff National Park , 13 campgrounds hold more than 2,000 sites. Although the town of Banff  has five of these facilities with more than 1,500 sites in its immediate vicinity, all fill by early afternoon.
The three largest campgrounds are strung out over 1.5 kilometers (0.9 mile) along Tunnel Mountain Road, with the nearest sites 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) from town. A percentage of sites at Tunnel Mountain Campground can be reserved through the Parks Canada Campground Reservation Service (877/737-3783, www.pccamping.ca ), and it’s strongly recommended that you do reserve if you require power hookups.
Although plenty of sites are available for those without reservations, they fill fast each day (especially in July and August). The official checkout time is 11 a.m., so plan on arriving at your campground of choice earlier than this in the day to ensure getting a site.
Closest to town is Tunnel Mountain Campground, which is three campgrounds rolled into one. The location is a lightly treed ridge east of downtown, with views north to Cascade Mountain and south to Mount Rundle. From town, follow Tunnel Mountain Road east, to beyond the Douglas Fir Resort (which is within walking distance for groceries, booze, and laundry).
If you’re coming in off the TransCanada Highway from the east, bypass town completely by turning left onto Tunnel Mountain Road at the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort. Approaching from this direction, the first campground you pass is the park’s largest, with 622 well-spaced, relatively private sites ($28), each with a fire ring and picnic table. Other amenities include drinking water, hot showers, and kitchen shelters. This campground has no hookups. It is open mid-May–early September.
Less than one kilometer (0.6 mile) farther along Tunnel Mountain Road toward town is a signed turnoff (“Hookups”) that leads to a registration booth for two more campgrounds. Unless you have a reservation, you’ll be asked whether you require an electrical hookup ($32) or a site with power, water, and sewer ($38), then sent off into the corresponding campground. The power-only section (closest to town) stays open year-round, the other mid-May–September. Both have hot showers but little privacy between sites.
Along Lake Minnewanka Road northeast of town are two campgrounds offering fewer services than the others, but with sites that offer more privacy. The pick of the two is Two Jack Lakeside Campground (June–mid-Sept., $32), with 80 sites tucked into trees at the south end of Two Jack Lake, an extension of Lake Minnewanka . Amenities include hot showers, kitchen shelters, drinking water, and flush toilets. It’s just over six kilometers (3.7 miles) from the TransCanada Highway underpass.
The much larger Two Jack Main Campground (mid-June–mid-Sept., $22) is a short distance farther along the road, with 381 sites spread throughout a lightly forested valley. It offers the same amenities as Two Jack Lakeside, sans showers.
Along Bow Valley Parkway  between the town of Banff  and Lake Louise  are three campgrounds. Closest to Banff is Johnston Canyon Campground (early June–mid-Sept., $28 per site), between the road and the rail line 26 kilometers (16 miles) west of Banff. It is the largest of the three campgrounds, with 140 sites, and has hot showers but no hookups. Almost directly opposite is Johnston Canyon Resort, with groceries and a restaurant, and the beginning of a trail to the park’s best-known waterfalls.
Continuing eight kilometers (five miles) toward Lake Louise, Castle Mountain Campground (early June–early Sept., $22 per site) is also within walking distance of a grocery store (no restaurant), but it has just 44 sites and no showers. Services are limited to flush toilets, drinking water, and kitchen shelters.
Protection Mountain Campground (July–Aug., $22 per site), another 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) west and just over 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from Lake Louise, opens as demand dictates, usually by late June. It offers 89 sites, along with flush toilets, drinking water, and stove-equipped kitchen shelters.