As some express frustration about dashed hopes of locking in a camping adventure this summer in the mountains, Parks Canada says it’s working to restore the efficiency of its online reservation system amid sky-high demand.
Parks Canada introduced a staggered reservation system this year throughout areas in the country, in an attempt to reduce slowdowns on its booking website. Campers were able to start reserving their spots in Jasper National Park last Friday, followed by Banff on Monday and Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay on Thursday.
People could also book backcountry camping spots in Banff starting Friday.
“Right now, we are seeing a higher demand. Users are seeing the system slow down a little bit,” said Parks Canada spokeswoman Rola Salem.
“But there’s still a lot of campsites being booked, we’re still seeing the bookings happening and there’s still a lot of places remaining for the backcountry in Banff right now. We are, of course, keeping a really close eye on the system. We’re investigating to see what the source of the issue of the slowdown is. We’ll get it to run as efficiently as possible.”
Some took to Twitter to question the online system amid troubles booking a campsite.
“Anybody successfully get a Parks Canada backcountry campsite? I was thrilled to log on the site, and then devastated to be booted off with no reservation,” wrote Jodi Hilty.
“We need more parks as demand for time in nature is so high.”
@ParksCanada Hi – what options are there to book backcountry camping when the Parks Canada website keeps re-loading in the middle of a booking, after taking minutes to load a page to begin with, after hours waiting in a queue to even access online reservations?
— Natalie Panek (@nmpanek) April 16, 2021
5 hours later of trying to get a hold of parks Canada to reserve a campsite and every single lot is booked up in both Banff and jasper…..
— Corina Nanu (@cnanuu) April 9, 2021
Salem said Parks Canada was expecting an incredible level of demand for campsite bookings this year. Nearly 35,000 reservations were made for Banff campsites on Monday, which was about 9,000 more than the opening day for reservations last year.
An equal figure is anticipated for backcountry bookings in the area, she said.
Salem said Parks Canada has been seeing an increase in demand for four years. Due to COVID-19 travel guidelines, even more Canadians are looking to go camping this summer instead of vacationing abroad.
“Camping has definitely become a big thing for people wanting to stay within Canada. We’ve seen it just get more and more popular.
“Of course, this year with everyone staying close to home, camping is the No. 1 choice for their vacation.”
Anybody successfully get a Parks Canada backcountry campsite? I was thrilled to log on the site, and then devastated to be booted off with no reservation. We need more parks as demand for time in nature is so high pic.twitter.com/Je5N2Utql7
— Jodi Hilty (@HiltyJodi) April 16, 2021
If my timeline is any indication, it is almost as hard to book a Parks Canada campsite as it is to get a vaccine if you’re under 55 with no chronic illness.
— Zoey! (@zoeywrites) April 16, 2021
Although some sites in Banff and Jasper were already completely booked for days during the peak camping season, as of Friday, Salem said there were still “quite a few” spots open during the “shoulder seasons” of spring and early fall.
“We’re also asking people to continue to check throughout the season. Some people will end up cancelling last minute. So anything that opens up will go back on our site and they’ll be able to book it.”
— Philip Turnbull (@PhilipTurnbull) April 16, 2021