When going camping with your kids near Calgary you want it close, you want a variety of activities and you want convenience. Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park has all of that just 90 minutes southwest from the core of downtown.
Camping Fees: $27 + $8 fire permit (no reservations accepted)
Number of Sites: 132
Facilities: Cooking shelters, Fire pits, Pit toilets, Showers
Nearest Town: Banff or Lake Lousie (30km)
Cell Reception: Yes
While the Johnston Canyon campground is in a very forested area next to Johnston creek, the trees are tall and sparse, so not only can you hear your neighbors, you can see them – I count at least 6 sites I can see into sitting fireside at spot #18.
The campground has numerous cooking shelters that you can fire up with wood stoves – they sat empty during our visit and looked like they had been unused for a while. There are showers and bathrooms on the grounds, but the real draw for Johnston Canyon campground is .. Johnston Canyon.
The location on the Bow Valley Parkway make it a great hub to access anyone of the half dozen hiking trailheads that reach the road, cycling in the valley or as a home to visit Lake Louise, Banff or even the Columbia Icefields or Radium Hot Springs.
The Bow Valley, however, is also the route the CN Rail tracks take through Banff National Park. The rails are just south of the campground and every ride past the site makes a loud sound with or without horn blast.
The location is perfect with the Johnston Canyon hike right across the road. It’s an out and back trail following the canyon past two waterfalls and, if you go all the way to the end, inkpots. You can have be anywhere from 2 to 12k depending on your fitness and stamina. The trail is paved, is built out over the creek, has stairs and you could run a stroller up to the lower falls if you came with younger kids.