It costs a lot to maintain Canada's scenic national parks, so there is a small charge for those visiting. If you are simply driving through (for example from Calgary to Vancouver, and not stopping for more than gas) you do not have to pay. If you are going hiking, shopping or day skiing, be sure to have your pass visible from inside your parked car (they have been known to tow from the ski lots).
Here are your Parks pass options:
Great Western Annual Pass is valid for the 11 national parks in Western Canada including Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay. The pass includes a discount coupon booklet (worth over $100), and is valid for a year from the month of purchase.
Discovery Annual Pass is valid for entry to 28 National Parks and 74 National Historic Sitesy. The pass includes a discount coupon booklet (worth over $100), and is valid for a year from the month of purchase.
A National Park Day Pass is good until 4 pm the following day. This is perfect for staying overnight in Banff or Lake Louise. If you are staying more than one day, let the park rangers know when paying.
There are also admission charges for certain historic sites and museums in the area:
Bar U Ranch National Historic Site
Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site
Cave and Basin National Historic Site
Banff Park Museum National Historic Site
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