Get the S’mores ready, as camping will officially be returning to national parks at the onset of next week.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded Canadians on Wednesday that Parks Canada will gradually start opening some of their camping sites, beginning on Monday, June 22.
“For a lot of people, no summer is complete without getting the tent packed, the kids in the car and the time off to go camping,” said Trudeau during his daily press conference outside of Rideau Cottage.
According to the federal environment minister, Johnathan Wilkinson, camping will be available in 31 national parks across the country as of next Monday, including Banff in Alberta.
“We’re starting with existing reservations,” Wilkinson said in an interview on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Pacific Rim National Park and Gulf Islands National Park Reserve will reopen to campers as early as next week.
Parks Canada said in a media release that Pacific Rim National Park offer limited camping services at its Green Point Campground starting on June 22.
There will be a total of 94 electrical campsites available for reservation while washrooms will also be available. Showers, however, will not be available.
Parks Canada also said there will be limited day-access to north and south Long Beach, Wickaninnish Beach, Florencia Beach, Shorepine Bog Trail and Rainforest Trail A and B.
And starting on June 29, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve will have camping services and access to pit toilets at McDonald Campground in North Saanich; Prior Centennial Campground, Beaumont Campground, and Shingle Bay Campground on Pender Island; and Narvaez Bay Campground on Saturna Island.
Campers hoping to pitch their tents and pull in their trailers at any of the 31 national parks will be required to have a reservation.
On the Parks Canada website, it said that anyone who had a reservation for camping prior to June 22 does not need to cancel, pointing out it “will be automatically cancelled and refunded in full.”
Anyone who has a reservation after this coming Sunday is being encouraged to check for park updates.
Parks Canada adds that it will not be taking any new reservations until at least June 22.
⚠ UPDATE! Starting June 1, some of our places will begin offering limited visitor access & basic services. Please see our website for details and plan your visit. Remember, it will be different than in past years. ➡ https://t.co/R5pJwBpWPd #PlanAhead https://t.co/OLFQaGsPY5
— Parks Canada (@ParksCanada) May 27, 2020
Many of the parks have been opened to day-use visitors since early June and although camping has returned to some provincial park locations within British Columbia, Monday will mark the first time Canadians will be able to camp in national parks since the start of the pandemic.
As some British Columbians may be keeping tabs on when new reservations for national parks might become available, others may still be having nightmares from their experience booking a provincial campsite late last month.
Wilkinson said Monday’s reopening of campgrounds, which includes those in the backcountry, is good news for Canadians.
“The weather is getting much better,” he said. “This is a good opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on international travel, staff will be cancelling and refunding reservations from international visitors – including those from the United States – until at least Aug. 7, Wilkinson said.
Parks Canada said Canadians who want to book a campsite at a national park should check the reservation website regularly for updates as additional sites will open up in the coming weeks.
“Canadians who plan to travel outside of their home province to camp at or visit a Parks Canada destination must follow the applicable provincial or territorial travel restrictions,” the agency said in a news release.
“Some provinces and territories allow only essential inbound travel at this time. Others require that outside visitors follow a self-isolation protocol. It is not possible to self-isolate at Parks Canada campgrounds.”
In addition, Trudeau reminded Canadians that although camping is returning, the country is still amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No matter what you’re planning this summer, whether it’s camping or barbeques, keep following public health recommendations and keep doing your part to protect the people around you,” Trudeau said.
All national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas were closed at the end of March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
With files from the Canadian Press.