Camping at Tunnel Mountain Village I (there is a separate area called Tunnel Mountain II) was my first experience as an adult staying in a Parks Canada campground and I have to say, Canada - I'm impressed. Our site, assigned to us upon arrival, was clean and very well kept. Even though the privacy wasn't all that great (it's a big campground), the neighbors were all friendly and considerate and the sites large enough that you won't feel crowded. The best part about Parks Canada campgrounds, including this one, is the clean bathrooms with hot water and showers! If you didn't get a sense for this in last week's Camp Here post, hot showers are my holy grail at campsites.
About Banff National Park
As Canada's very first National Park, Banff sure does stand out as pretty spectacular. Between jewel colored Lake Louise and Moraine Lake and the sharp cliffs that rise above them - there's plenty of natural eye candy. Two of our favorite hikes are the walk through Johnston Canyon and the hike past Lake Louise up to the Plain of Six Glaciers where a gluten free friendly off-grid teahouse awaits. Another must do in the park is to visit Banff Upper Hot Springs for a good long soak. I'd highly recommend going late in the evening when the stars are out and the crowds are gone.
Tunnel Mountain Village I is about 5 km outside the center of the village of Banff - where plenty of delicious restaurants and even a gluten free friendly bakery await for those days when camp food just won't hit the spot. If you run out of any supplies on your trip, you should be able to find most of what you would need in the village.
There are 618 campsites at Tunnel Mountain Village I, so whichever site you pick - you'll likely have a quite a few neighbors if you visit in the summer. We made our reservations quite late in game, so our only option was to have a site assigned to us upon arrival. Our site, in the middle of loop "F" was a good size for a car and single medium sized tent. However, I'd encourage you to book ahead and try and get an exterior site on loop "B". The sites here have a bit more tree cover and therefore more privacy - they're also the closest to that ridiculously amazing view in the first picture of this post. The sites all seem to very well graded, so finding a good flat spot for your tent should not be a problem.
Now here is where Parks Canada campgrounds really excel. Each loop at Tunnel Mountain has a large washroom with all the amenities I could possibly want including clean hot showers. The washrooms are large enough to accommodate the large population of the camp, so I never had to wait in line for a shower for more than 10 minutes or so. With only one exception during our visit, the water was always warm.
List of Amenities:
- Flush Toilets
- Hot & Cold Running Water
- Hot Showers
- Picnic Tables
- Fire Rings with Grills (there are some loops without fire rings)
- Food Lockers
- Recycling & Trash Receptacles
A few tips for camping at Tunnel Mountain Village I;
- Bring some kind of shade. A large umbrella or shelter - the sites in the middle loops don't have much shade.
- The unprotected sites can also be windy, make sure to really stake down your tent, shelter, etc.
- Spend some time walking down the trails in the area south of the campsite - it's beautiful and we never got a chance to explore on our last trip there.
- I've never seen so many people spend so many hours chopping wood that they never ended up using. If you think you'll feel inadequate with all the wood chopping around you, bring your favorite firewood chopping ax to fit in.
- Book early to get a site on the edge of a loop.