All You Need To Know About Camping at Two Jack Lake (2024)

The Two Jack Lake campgrounds provide some of the most scenic sites to pitch a tent in Banff National Park. Waking up beneath the trees and stepping out to dappled sunlight and shimmering turquoise waters feels like a continued dream. And what better way to end a day in the mountains than by roasting marshmallows around a campfire and drifting off to nature’s soundtrack?

The Two Jack Lake campgrounds’ beauty is rivaled only by their popularity, so it’s essential to plan your camping trip here well in advance. From booking to cooking, this guide will provide you with important tips to ensure you have a great time while camping at Two Jack Lake.

Why Reserve the Two Jack Lake Campground?

Two Jack Lake from the lakeside campground in summer

Just 10 km from the Town of Banff near Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake campgrounds offer a wilderness retreat close to many modern conveniences. If you are visiting Banff without a car, you can even catch a bus to and from the campgrounds!

Camping at Two Jack Lake means that you won’t need to venture far from the tent to experience some of the best sites in Banff. Neighbouring Lake Minnewanka, Johnson Lake and Cascade Ponds are all a short drive, bike, or bus ride away. Those seeking an active excursion can hike nearby trails like C-Level Cirque, Stewart Canyon, or the more strenuous, Aylmer Lookout.

If you don’t feel like hiking, it’s equally enjoyable to laze about the campground, given its idyllic location on one of Banff’s most beautiful lakes.

Paddleboarding on Two Jack Lake
Paddleboarding on Two Jack Lake

Well-sheltered from the wind and set against the dramatic backdrop of Mount Rundle, Mount Inglismaldie, and Cascade Mountain, Two Jack Lake is the perfect place to paddle your watercraft of choice – canoe, kayak, or paddle board. Brave souls who can tolerate icy temperatures may even wade into the waters for a quick, refreshing dip (i.e. cold plunge).

Glimpse of Rundle from the shores of Two Jack Lakeside Campground

Staying overnight at the campground allows you to easily enjoy the most serene and photogenic moments at the lake – sunrise and sunset. While there are beautiful scenes from the campground shores, it’s worth walking along the shoreline trail to the Two Jack Day Use area, which is one of the best places to photograph the iconic Mount Rundle.

Two Jack Lake
Sunset on Two Jack Lake

As camp fees are far more affordable than hotels in Banff, Two Jack Lake camping is a great for those visiting Banff on a budget. While you’ll forego the option of room service, Two Jack Lake campgrounds offer various amenities that make the outdoor experience more comfortable, like flush toilets, potable water, sinks, cooking shelters, and showers. If you’re not keen to wrestle with tent poles or sleep on the ground? Try one of the oTENTik or equipped sites for more of a ‘glamping’ experience.

Whether you’re a a seasoned camper or curious to try tenting, Two Jack Lake camping will surely provide a memorable experience.

Two Jack Lake Campground Key Info

two jack lake banff
  • Operating dates (2024):
    • Two Jack Main: June 20 to September 2
    • Two Jack Lakeside: May 9 to October 6
  • Camping type: Frontcountry (i.e. “car camping”)
  • Reservations: Required, and they book up quickly.
  • Amenities: Drinking water, flush toilets, cooking & picnic shelters, firepits, food storage lockers, showers (Lakeside campground), dumping station (Main campground), public transit stop
  • Fees:
    • Two Jack Main: $24.00
    • Two Jack Main Equipped Campsites: $78.00
    • Two Jack Lakeside: $30.50
    • Two Jack Lakeside oTENTik: $133.25

Reservations & Permits

tent at Two Jack Lake campground

You’ll need a couple important documents to sleep under the stars at Two Jack Lake:

  • A National Park Pass: This must be displayed in your vehicle for the duration of your stay in the Park and can be purchased online in advance, from partner stores like MEC, or upon arrival at the gates to Banff National Park. If you plan to visit for an extended period, the annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass makes far more sense than a series of daily passes. Learn more about Parks Canada passes here.
  • A Camping Permit: Sites at Two Jack Lake must be reserved in advance over the phone or online. Upon arrival at the campground, guests must present their booking information and register at the campground kiosk to obtain their camping permit.
  • A Fire Permit: A requirement for sites with fire pits, these permits are automatically added to your campsite reservation for a fee of $11.

Summer camping reservations in Banff National Park are highly competitive, and it’s best to prepare in advance by creating an account and becoming familiar with the portal. Reservations typically open in January, with the most popular areas like Two Jack Lakeside Campground booking within the first few hours. Parks Canada has helpful instructions online for navigating the reservation portal.

If you miss the initial reservation rush, don’t lose hope, it is still possible to snag cancellations. You’ll need some flexibility with dates and patience to check the site regularly.

Getting to Two Jack Lake Campgrounds


Getting to the Two Jack Lake campgrounds is wonderfully easy. From the Town of Banff, follow the main street (Banff Avenue) out of town, it will loop past Two Jack Lake in about 15 minutes.

If traveling from Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway 1, take the first exit on your right after entering Banff National Park. Keep right and follow the signs for Two Jack Lake.

Two Jack Lake Campsite Options

With over 400 sites between two campgrounds, there are many excellent options for Two Jack Lake camping. Of the two campgrounds, Two Jack Lakeside is smaller and more desirable, given it’s picturesque shoreline location (and hot showers!). Two Jack Main is just as serene with rustic sites nestled in the woods. As a larger campground, availability is more likely, and nightly fees are slightly cheaper at Two Jack Main Campground.

Both Two Jack Lakeside and Main campgrounds are unserviced, meaning that there are no electrical hookups for motorhomes. Different sites may be more suitable depending on your camping equipment and preferences. For example, not all sites can accommodate RVs, and the Lakeside campground’s walk-in sites only allow small tents and 4 campers.

Enjoying the morning at Two Jack Lake campground
Savouring a quiet morning at Two Jack Lakeside

Parks Canada’s Reservation service requires information on party size and equipment at time of booking and automatically filters site options based on this criteria. So if you select ‘large tent’ for camping equipment, it will highlight available sites that can accommodate a large tent.

The vast majority of sites between the two campgrounds accommodate up to 6 campers in a combination of tents and/or vehicles. Some larger sites will even allow RVs of a limited size. In addition to typical car-camping sites, Two Jack campgrounds also have a couple of unique options, like walk-in sites, equipped sites, and oTENTik sites.

Two Jack Lake campsite
Typical campsite at Two Jack Lake with tent pad, picnic table, firepit

Two Jack Lakeside Campground

Parks Canada Map of Two Jack Lakeside Campground
Parks Canada Map of Two Jack Lakeside Campground

One of the most popular campgrounds in Banff, Two Jack Lakeside is a top notch place to spend the night if you’re lucky enough to secure a reservation. Just a few steps will bring you from your tent to the cerulean shore of Two Jack Lake. Shared amenities like washrooms, shelters, firewood, dishwashing stations, firewood, food lockers, and drinking taps are conveniently located.

All Lakeside campground sites have picnic tables and firepits. While each of these 74 sites is exceptionally lovely, the walk-in sites are extra special.

Two Jack Lakeside: Walk-in Sites (#14-35)

Two Jack Lakeside campground

Some of the most coveted tenting spots in the park, these 22 sites sit near the shoreline of Two Jack Lake, treating campers to ethereal lake views. Compared to the rest of Two Jack Lake campground, the sites have limited capacity and can only accommodate a small tent with up to 4 people.

The ‘walk in’ classification means that parking is provided in a central area and you walk the last stretch to the tent sites (about 50m or so). The trade-off is a more rustic experience for slightly more effort to shuttle gear back and forth.

Two Jack Lakeside: oTENTik

Image credit: Parks Canada

A unique cross between a tent and a cabin, the Lakeside’s 10 oTENTik structures offer a comfortable, low maintenance wilderness experience. With beds for up to 6 people, lighting, an electric heater, wooden deck chairs, outdoor firepit and picnic area, set up is minimal. Simply unfurl your sleeping bag or blankets.

These sites are incredibly popular, so early booking is essential. While the $133/night price tag is hefty by camping standards and the highest in the Two Jack Lake campgrounds, the cost is very reasonable if split among multiple campers ( much cheaper than just about any Banff hotel in the summer).

Two Jack Main Campground

Parks Canada Map of Two Jack Main Campground

The 380 sites that make up Two Jack Main campground are situated around a series of 44 loops, a design that promotes seclusion and privacy. You only ever see a few other sites at a time, particularly in the outer loops.

All sites are well-shaded by tall coniferous trees that provide a sense of protection and relief on hot days. They’re also perfect for hammocks! Shared amenities like washrooms, water taps, firewood, and cooking shelters are easy to find and generally shared between 2 loops. Sites are all relatively similar except for loops 14, 15, 18-21, which lack firepits and loops 1-4, dedicated to equipped campsites.

Two Jack Main: Equipped Sites

Image credit: Parks Canada

Equipped campsites at Two Jack Main Campground are perfect for travelers or first-time campers who may not have a tent or cooking appliances as part of their packing list. Sites are ‘equipped’ with a canvas tent for up to 6 people, sleeping cots, cookstove, and fuel. You will need to bring a sleeping bag or warm blanket, kitchen gear like plates, pots, utensils, lighter, etc. and any other personal items.

When to Camp at Two Jack Lake

Two Jack Lake in summer

The window for camping in the Rockies is short but sweet. While the Two Jack Lakeside campground has one of the longest operating seasons in Banff (May to October), July and August are typically considered the prime camping months with the warmest temperatures. However, these months are also the time hardest to secure a camping reservation.

Two Jack Main campground operates between mid-June and early September. Although camping can be quite enjoyable in these shoulder months, you will want to plan for colder temperatures and more variable weather.

Know Before Camping at Two Jack Lake

Campfire at two jack lakeside
  • Cellular service is limited at the Two Jack Lake campgrounds despite the proximity to town.
  • If traveling by air, review luggage regulations to properly pack camp equipment. Alternatively, equipment can be rented from outfitters like Snowtips Bactrax in Banff or Wilderness Equipment Rentals in Canmore.
  • Firewood is provided for on-site convenience and to help prevent the spread of invasive species. Only use the wood provided at the campground and only start fires in the designated fire rings. Logs are hefty, so bring an axe to split up into more manageable pieces. Note that fires may be banned when conditions are extremely dry.
  • Quiet hours are in place between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. to ensure campers can enjoy a restful night. While tent materials may protect you from the elements, they lack any effective soundproofing. Respect fellow campers and keep noises to a minimum overnight.
  • Two Jack Lake campgrounds are not the place for raucous long weekend parties, with alcohol and cannabis bans enforced during Canada Day weekend, August long weekend, and Labour day weekends. You can check out some of the breweries in town during these periods.
  • If fishing or paddle sports are part of your camping plans, you’ll need to follow various regulations for conservation purposes. A Self Certification Permit for all watercraft is required and can be found online. Paper copies may also be available onsite. Ask at registration or look for green drop-boxes near the shore.
  • You can bring your dog to Two Jack Lake campgrounds but must keep them leashed and clean up any waste. Note that dogs are not permitted in the equipped sites or oTENTik structures.

Tips to Make the Most of Bad Weather While Camping

While summers in the Canadian Rockies are usually fairly dry, the occasional drizzle or cold snap can make overnighting in the outdoors a bit more challenging. Preparing for all conditions is always the best defense against changeable mountain conditions. Here are some tips to weather inclement conditions and keep your Two Jack Lake campsite cozy:

  • Make sure to secure the rain fly when pitching the tent to protect your gear from the elements. Keep footwear in the vestibule so the interior of the tent stays clean.
  • Use the many trees to hang a tarp over the campsite to help shelter the picnic table and firepit.
  • Store firewood under the picnic table or parked car so it stays dry. If it has been raining for a while, use fire starter as the Two Jack Lake campgrounds’ wood supply is not sheltered.
  • Take advantage of the cooking shelters. The woodfire stoves keep the space warm while the picnic tables are great for meals and games.
  • Put extra warm layers on your Banff packing list, even in the summer. A down jacket, toque (aka beanie), and wool socks can keep you as toasty as a marshmallow on cool mountain mornings or when waiting out the rain.

Unfortunately, wildfire smoke is becoming a regular feature of western summers. The frequency and severity is difficult to predict in advance and conditions can change from day to day – we recommend checking for information. If you do get caught camping on smokey days, limit physical activity and seek relief indoors as needed.

Wildlife & ‘Bare’ Camping


Bears have been known to venture into Two Jack Lake campgrounds and who can blame them for following all the enticing BBQ smells.

A strict ‘bare’ site policy is enforced at Two Jack Lake campgrounds to discourage wildlife from entering the area. This means that any food, food-related items, and similar bear ‘attractants‘ must be stored in vehicles or animal-proof storage lockers when sites are unattended and overnight. Even clean dishes must be packed away. Bears have some of the keenest noses in the animal kingdom and will know if a bowl once contained cereal.

Two Jack Lake campgrounds provide convenient outdoor sinks for washing dishes and disposing of wastewater. Do not dump leftovers, food scraps or greywater at your campsite or in the lake. After eating, simply carry dishes to the designated sink (not the washroom sinks!) and then stow the squeaky clean cooking supplies in lockers or vehicles. Dispose of any garbage in bearproof bins or pack in vehicles.

Black bear in woods

Another important rule when camping in bear country is to keep food away from your tent. Bears will come looking for a midnight snack if given the opportunity. While the Two Jack Lake campgrounds are quite busy, it is good practice to keep bear spray on hand while camping and to know how to use it.

Being careless with food risks a fine, but also endangers bears by habituating them to human areas. Sadly, a fed bear often becomes a dead bear. To protect these beautiful creatures, keep your site bare and take all necessary precautions to help humans and wildlife coexist peacefully.

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Miranda Spessot

A professional planner by day, Miranda works to better understand human habitats and create more livable, sustainable, and inclusive communities. She also applies this spatial sense in personal pursuits by mapping brewery bike tours for friends, navigating transit systems abroad, and road tripping around western Canada. Outside of office hours, Miranda can usually be found adventuring outdoors: hiking, scrambling, camping, skiing, paddle-boarding, running, or trying to photograph her dog. Raised in Ontario, Miranda lives in Canmore, Alberta.

Leave a Comment