An official date has been set for British Columbia residents to begin booking campsites in provincial parks for the 2021 season.
The Discover Camping reservation system is set to open on March 8 and people living in the province will receive priority access throughout the 2021 season.
One caveat for this year is that reservations can be made no further than two months out from arrival, as the season is expected to be busy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our provincial parks have never been as important as they are right now. They provide a special place to safely connect with nature and improve our health and well-being during these difficult times,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We are all looking forward to another summer of camping and outdoor recreation in B.C., and while public health concerns and advice remain, we are asking people to pick a campground as close to home as possible to avoid long road trips and non-essential travel.”
While the government is recommending campers choose a site close to home in order to avoid travel, BC Parks is suggesting residents be prepared with backup options for preferred sites and dates.
Starting on July 8, people living in other provinces can reserve campsites for the remainder of the season, according to the government.
The online reservation system can be found here: https://www.discovercamping.ca
Although camping is an outdoor activity, the province advises that it will “not be business as usual in many campgrounds” as campgrounds will work to follow public health guidelines.
“Changes are being made to ensure everyone has a safe visit, such as how many people can be in a campsite and restrictions on group sites,” reads a statement from the government.
The Province adds that reservations for day-use facilities, including picnic shelters and halls, will remain closed for the 2021 season at this time.
“We recognize the heightened importance of outdoor recreation during these uncertain times,” said Kelly Greene, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment. “Our government is committed to ensuring British Columbians can safely enjoy the natural beauty of our province close to home.”
Although protocols have been established at this time for the 2021 season, the Province acknowledges that public health guidelines for gatherings may change between the time of booking a campsite and a scheduled arrival date.
“All camping parties must ensure they meet current public health guidelines for gatherings, even if those allowed numbers are less than the maximum site allowance,” says the government.
“We are looking forward to another great season of taking care of our spectacular provincial parks and welcoming you into our campgrounds. We are doing everything we can to ensure our parks are safe for visitors,” said Eddie Wood, president, Society of Park Operators. “Many of our campgrounds will be very busy, so it’s important to plan ahead, follow public health guidelines, and enjoy B.C.’s outdoors. It’s going to be a fantastic season.”
Prior to the general opening on March 8, backcountry camping reservations will open on March 1 for the full season for two popular backcountry trips – the Berg Lake Trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park and the canoe circuit in Bowron Lake Provincial Park.
Campers are keeping their fingers crossed that the March 8 launch of the Discover Camping reservation portal goes smoother than last May, when an overwhelming spike in traffic to the website resulted in the portal repeatedly crashing, making online bookings near impossible for many.
More information on reservations and facilities, including up-to-date information on the status of favourite provincial parks can be found at bcparks.ca