hike Canada or the USA? – UPDATE

UPDATE: The concern below, originally posted July 5th, 2006, has been one of the most popular posts on this blog. Seems it strikes a sore point.

Over 2 months after my original complaint via the Parks Canada Listens page I finally heard back from them. With another survey on bears. No response to my original complaint.

Seems Parks Canada did not listen.

This time I will send the updated complaint to these email addresses:


And let you know if I get any official response to the original complaint.

Parks Canada is a government, bureaucratic monopoly with no real pressure to respond to customer (taxpayer) concerns. Don’t hold your breath.

July 5th, 2006

My buddy George just purchased his annual National Parks vehicle passes for both countries:

Canada = US$111.35 (C$123.80)

USA = US$50

OK. So why is Canada over twice as expensive? Ah — here’s the rationale on the Parks Canada website.

I don’t buy it.

I have visited National Parks in both countries for decades and I prefer the American Parks. Regulations are much more reasonable in the States though the amenities are arguably better north of the border.

Once in the Parks, user fees are higher & more numerous in Canada, as well.

At these rates I feel the Canadian National Parks are starting to drive away visitors. Contrary to the objectives of the Park system.

I sent my concerns to Parks Canada at their join.parkslistens.ca website.

If you are deciding between Canada and the USA for your next hiking vacation — and cost is an important factor — we recommend the States.

45 Replies to “hike Canada or the USA? – UPDATE”

    1. I tried the same and couldn’t find it either!
      I also have to agree with the above comment, they are getting a bit too expensive for my liking. I understand that , with the amount of tourists coming through, they need a lot of maintenance and have to adhere to speed limits due to the wildlife. But when you encounter 15 patrol cars within 4 hrs checking with their radar, it smacks of tax -grab-overkill! I live 4 hours drive away , in B.C. and always liked to go there over the weekend but if they keep this up, I’ll drive direction south of the border. I heard the ‘mericans were real friendly folk!

  1. Just wanted to agree whole heartedly that Canada is VERY expensive – beautiful, but I will surely stay in the States from now on. I also tried to respond to the survey and was unable to access it. I was hoping to leave feedback about the parks. I do think if they would like us to visit and spend money they should really consider what we have to say.

  2. Loved Banff, would recommend the trip….not able to access the website for the contest…..not sure why some cars at the entrance of Banff were allowed to drive through ( on the right hand side of the toll booths) without paying….but I understand if you do that, and if you get caught by a ranger, you will be fined………it was worth the price just to see the unbelievable scenery..

  3. I did manage to get into the contest, somehow. Others had problems.

    The right hand lane entering Banff National Park from Calgary is for vehicles that already have an annual pass hanging from the rearview mirror. Or for vehicles that are just passing through the Park without stopping. You ARE allowed transit without having a Park pass.

  4. The price to enter Banff National is too expensive especially for a Senior’s yearly pass please reduce the price so more Seniors are able to visit the Parks. thank you

  5. I visited Banff and drove to Jasper and that was the most beautiful drive that i have ever taken.I’m from indiana USA,but canada can claim that it’s the best of all.Thanks for your gracious country.
    Thanks again,

  6. Took the David Thomas Highway to go from Leduc, AB to B.C. The cost to use the Columbia Icefields Parkway was $17+. We weren’t even stopping along the way. We felt this amount was excessive.

  7. $17 !!

    That is ridiculous, Linda. Highway travel through National Parks should be exempt from Park fees.

    When I drive from Calgary to Vancouver there is no cost.

  8. We enjoy visiting Banff & Jasper. However, we find it very difficult to do so in either July or August. I know it requires $, but you could use some more camping spots with more services, ie water & Elec at least.

  9. visited Banff area during the period of July5 – 9. Was it necessary to dig up the ENTIRE main street at the same time. Understand the short season and all, but a staggard approach would have been nice. Still love the town. Could not access the survey offered by the Parks. May need to hire some technical experience!!!

  10. There has been no improvement in the on-line survey since the beginning that I can see.

    And that Banff main street renovation is months behind schedule I am told.

  11. Could not access the contest on the card I got in Banff. We thouroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery but the prices are way too expensive, especially for families. Beware if the ranger is asking if you want to make a fire at night, you will be charged an extra 7.-Dollars, that’s a rip off!

  12. I was also unable to enter the contest. Also went through the park this summer on the way through from Kamloops to Rocky Mountain House and found the fees to be a bit extreme as we were not stopping, just passing through.

  13. I couldn’t get into the contest either.recieved it in Waterton Park.Enjoyed it alot but pricey and less camping than there used to be.

  14. The parks fees are getting out of hand in Canada, but it is like the taxes in Canada no one will listen and nothing you can do. If you do not pay they will fine you. Welcome to Canada.

  15. Touring through from Head smashed-in buffalo jump (amazing interpretive centre) $9 all day. Had 2 hours at Lake Louise (Beautifull) but $17 to basically park car and car’nt access survey/contest.

  16. We have used the park many times over the years and we feel it has a lot to offer. However, I feel rather disappointed with the survey and its process. Why hand surveys out if we cannot even submit a reply?

  17. Hi, I just love to go to Banff. It’s my favorite place to go. I did notice quite a bit of litter in the parking lot below sulpher mountain. I also found the park fee a bit high, considering there is alot of upgrade needed ie. hot pool. What do they do with all the park fees money?

  18. Our trip to the Canadian Rockies was awesome. Enjoyed the trip very much, but unfortunately very expensive. The park fees are high and the food overpriced. Banff was a challenge this time with the downtown area all torn up. Traffic was a real problem.
    I have given up on the survey.

  19. Was quite disappointed this summer as I visited Banff in July and there was so much construction going on where they were digging up the sewer in the middle of town that there were no wild life to be seen for miles around. It was quite confusing also driving around and taking detours. Please enter me in the $1000
    GIVEAWAY CONTEST as per your brochure at Parks Canada.

  20. Paid for a minimum 4 day pass at Glacier (stayed 2 days) then had to pay for a pass in Waterton (stayed 2 days). Love those International Peace Parks.

  21. We have now been to the Canadian Rockies three times. This past one was our best yet. The beauty is unbelieveable and we love all the wild life.

  22. Annual park pass is getting very expensive and except for the odd new washroom facility, we see few improvements.

  23. I cannot access the ‘$1000 contest’ by completing a survey! Why’s the park canada officials hand out this cards and noone can even find or access the site. It’s disappointing.

  24. Banff and Jasper have unequalled scenery any where in the WORLD. Unfortunately, service, friendliness and fair prices do not always accompany that. We could not access the website – Parks Canada does not intend to listen? We found no accommodation in Jasper so didn’t get to enjoy the park this visit, but we still paid our user fee. Not happy now.

  25. This is my second comment since July and I’ve noticed that numorous comments about the contest have appeared. You would think that someone at Parks Canada would read them, apparently not ! I’m beginning to think they really don’t give a sh##.

  26. I too was given the ‘Survey’ card with the chance to win $1000. and can no way finagle a way to the correct page. A thousand bucks is nice, but the disappointment really lies in that the problem with the site is being ignored. The Glacier Pkwy is stunning and if GOD had a residence, it would be there. I hope to come back again but, like so many other people I think the fees are excessive ! That is a disappointment, because I feel fleeced.

  27. Could not access survey site. Suggest park fees be done away with and revenue replaced by photo-radar, especially concentrated on trucks. Truck traffic should be re-routed to the railway.Car traffic and parking problems could be reduced by Park and Ride lots at the entrances with frequent shuttle trains with lots of stops along the railway plus electric mini-cars for rent.

  28. Could not access contest site and/or enter password. Really interested in entering contest. We had a great time in the rockies. Went white water rafting in Golden BC, visited Glacier National Park along withBanff and Lake Louise. The park was awesome and the mountains magnificent. Nothing like it !!!

  29. Well, if Parks’ objective in having a ‘survey’ was to ascertain how many irate responses it could get, it certainly succeeded! Way to go government of the people!!

  30. We just returned from jasper…..awsome gotta love those mountains….I’m from the Lake of the woods area…….it was a magnificent trip….loved every minutes….ya, a little pricey but hey what can you do……but this darn survey is real or what can’t get to it no how…..HELP!!!

  31. We just returned from a 3-week trip that was spent mostly in Jasper and Banff NPs. Gorgeous scenery and beautiful weather — but VERY expensive, especially compared to US NPs. And what’s with that campfire fee — about $9 per day to have a campfire? I can do without, thank-you very much. We bought an annual pass to the tune of about $126 since we were camping for more than a week, but here in the states an annual pass is $80 now and the camping fees are usually quite a bit less. I must say that the campgrounds were nice and I think you get free showers (which we didn’t use, being in a motorhome), but they are still expensive for what you get. When we bought our pass we were given a card to complete the survey and enter a contest to win $1000, but I got this site when I tried to access the web address on the card. Go figure. Still, we had a good time.

  32. Yeah, typical Parks Canada. Enter a competion but never find it!
    Also trail maintenance in our National Parks (except for the Lake Louise area and close proximity to Banff townsite) is almost non-existant. Where do the exorbitant park fees go?

  33. I work on the Parks Listens project. A person recently contacted us and said that when they tried to access http://www.join.parkslistens.ca that they were referred to this blog. I assure you that our site is operating and we receive new entries every day.

    If you type http://www.join.parkslistens.ca into a search engine (such a Google) you are referred to this blog. Please try typing http://www.join.parkslistens.ca into your browser’s address. If you are still having problems, please contact us at parkslistens-parcsecoute@ipsos-reid.com.

    I apologize to anyone who had trouble registering for the contest. It is real and the next entry deadline is October 31, 2007.

  34. Was the 1st time in Waterton and went on the International Boat ride…beautiful scenery and the ” Captain ” did a wonderful job about the history of Waterton, but I agree with alot of the other comments, what the he** is up with this contest, if you have no intention on having one do not hand out cards for people to waste their time

  35. Banff is getting so expensive people who live here can’t afford to visit anymore.Camping at Tunnel mountain is:
    ……full hook up…$35.65
    ……electric only…$28.oo
    ……Season Pass [ family ]….$123.80
    ……Fire I think…$7-$9 A night [Jasper is $9 ] My favourite Spot.After ” YEARS ” of
    supporting Banff, it’s a shame I may not be able to continue.

    Are the PARKS more interested in The Tourists from other countries then in the people who support them year round.We do need the tourists, but at least let the people who live here enjoy the beauty at a reasonable cost.

  36. Canada is a world of its own,three weeks touring the states of B.C and Alberta was just awsome .three years vacation would not be enough to see all of the wonderfull places thanks for the great hospitality.

  37. We are very fortunate to have such beautiful country so close to us and enjoy my visits. I do believe that the park fees are too high especially when you still have to pay to go to see the Cave and Basin, etc. The old adage that two nickels are worth more than a dime is still true and it would make more sense to charge less and have everyone buy a park pass.

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