For most of us, camping season usually begins in January—when Parks Canada’s campsite-booking system launches.
This year, due to COVID-19, reservations will open in April. As for provincial parks, bookings begin in March.
Here’s what you need to know to give yourself the best chance at securing your preferred campsites.
• If you plan to make your reservations online, save time and hassle by creating accounts with Parks Canada and Alberta Parks prior to the opening day of bookings.
• Have a backup plan in case you aren’t able to book your first-choice of campsite and/or dates—especially if you want to reserve several different sites as part of a road trip.
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• Some campers will book time at a site that opens its full season early on, and then cancel later if they’re able to get a spot at a preferred campground that has a shorter booking window. Checking back at the parks’ reservation websites throughout the season may yield some surprise finds as cancellations occur.
• After two years of construction, Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park is set to reopen for summer camping.
• People who want to camp at Lake O’Hara must enter a random draw through Parks Canada’s online service.
BOOKING DATES: NATIONAL PARKS
Visit reservation.pc.gc.ca or call 1-877-737-3783
April 9, 8 a.m.: Jasper (except backcountry)
April 12, 8 a.m.: Banff (except backcountry)
April 13, 8 a.m.: Elk Island, Kootenay, Rocky Mountain House (National Historic Site), Waterton Lakes, Wood Buffalo, Yoho
April 16, 8 a.m.: Jasper backcountry
April 16, 8 a.m.: Banff, Kootenay & Yoho backcountry
April 1 to 30: Enter draw for Lake O’Hara overnight camping
April 16, 8 a.m.: Lake O’Hara day-use bus
Click here for more information about booking at national parks in Alberta.
BOOKING DATES: PROVINCIAL PARKS
Visit reserve.albertaparks.ca, or call 1-877-537-2757
March 4: Individual campsites at most parks. Booking times staggered by region: 9 a.m. (South), 11 a.m. (Kananaskis), 1 p.m. (Central), 3 p.m. (Northeast and Northwest)
March 5, 9 a.m.: Comfort camping
Group camping remains closed, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
AMA members save $10 on family annual Parks Canada Discovery Passes when purchased at an AMA centre.