That went well. Almost as soon as the Discover Camping reservation portal opened up to British Columbians on Monday morning, operations were halted due to technical difficulties.
With thousands of provincial residents eagerly awaiting their opportunity to book an outdoor overnight excursion within BC at 7 a.m. PT on May 25, many unhappy campers came away frustrated and empty-handed.
The overwhelming spike in traffic to the Discover Camping website resulted in the portal repeatedly crashing throughout the morning, making online bookings near impossible for many.
The Ministry of Environment says in a statement that the last time the site was busy there were 1,100 reservations in one day, but in the first half-hour of opening Monday about 800 reservations were booked.
It says 50,000 people were online at opening trying to access the system.
While government staff made efforts to be ready for additional demands, it says the 35,000 reservations made before lunch exceeded expectations.
The ministry thanks all those who tried to book a site for their patience and apologizes to those who were unable to access the system.
The new reservations are only available to B.C. residents, giving locals camping opportunities close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the repeated efforts to lock down a campsite, British Columbians took to social media to voice their frustrations.
I'm not sure what BC Parks was expecting when when they told the entire province, all outdoor-hungry and cabin-fevered, to descend onto their website all at the same time… #BCParks pic.twitter.com/zrcwMzHuiK
— Spoon (@kokuei) May 25, 2020
Crash crash crash. 40 minutes and no campsite. Had to keep logging in and only once made it to the payment page then guess what …. yup, CRASH.
— Ann Martyn (@AnnMartyn4) May 25, 2020
— Dennis Wilkinson (@DennisArve) May 25, 2020
— Amanda Kran (@VodkaKranberry) May 25, 2020
BC's Discover Camping reservation system is failing hard right now. Had a plan, got up early, logged in and spent more than an hour hitting website error after error after error and still haven't been able to make a single booking. Boo! #BCparks pic.twitter.com/nfFYc0wunZ
— Steven Godfrey ? (@itcaughtmyeye) May 25, 2020
— Anthony Diehl (@anthony_diehl) May 25, 2020
Throughout the morning some users were able to get further through the booking process than others, only to have the site crash at the checkout screen.
— April Lawrence (@AprilCHEK) May 25, 2020
One Twitter user said “I need a vacation from trying to book a vacation.”
After multiple hours spent on the site, some British Columbians were finally able to navigate the process and secure their campsite.
After 2.5 hours of trying at 2 different campsites, and countless crashes, I finally booked a site. But the rest of my family is still trying. Guess I might be camping alone! ? #bcparks pic.twitter.com/xi3v9PPxqM
— Megan Kaptein (@MeganLKaptein) May 25, 2020
— Deanna Young (@deannacusack) May 25, 2020
— Meg (@meghopee) May 25, 2020
Multiple British Columbians who were able to eventually have success in booking seemed to quote a time of approximately three hours spent on the Discover Camping portal.
Despite an incredible number of campers failing to book sites, it appears to be a result of the website experiencing technical difficulties and not for lack of sites available.
Campsites have been closed since provincial parks restricted access back in April due to the COVID-19 crisis.
More details about booking limitations and camping information can be found here.
With files from The Canadian Press