Wednesday, January 05, 2022

2022 Campsite Reservation Guide for Alberta and BC

Here we go again! We're still making plans for ski getaways and now it's time to start thinking about the summer camping season as well. Ready or not, it's time to pull out that calendar and to start planning for the May long weekend - and beyond.

Summer will be here again before we know it! Time to start planning


National Park Reservations 


National Park campsites can be booked online for the entire 2022 camping season beginning in January and February this year. (which is a change from last year when you couldn't make reservations until April.)

Reservations will open in January and February for visits between April 2022 and March 2023.

And unlike with provincial parks, there is no 90 day or three month window. You can book any site for a stay during the entire camping season once reservations go live. 

Below is the reservation launch schedule for national parks near Calgary:

Banff National Park - Wednesday, January 26th, 8am MST! (and backcountry campground reservations can be made as of January 28th at 8am.)


Jasper National Park -  Monday, January 31st, 8am MST! (and backcountry campground reservations can be made as of February 2nd, also at 8am!)


Waterton Lakes National Park - Tuesday, January 25th, 8am MST!


Kootenay National Park, BC  - Monday, January 24th, 8am MST! (and backcountry campground reservations can be made as of January 28th at 8am.)


Yoho National Park, BC - Monday, January 24th, 8am MST! (and backcountry campground reservations can be made as of January 28th at 8am.)


Mount Revelstoke National Park, BC - Wednesday, January 19th, 8am PST! (backcountry campground reservations can be made on the same day.)


Glacier National Park, BC - Wednesday, January 19th, 8am PST! (backcountry campground reservations can be made on the same day.)

Soon! We'll be camping in the sunshine again soon.

Special Reservations for Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park: 

Backcountry Campsites at Lake O'Hara 
can be reserved online for the entire summer season as well starting on Thursday, February 3rd, at 8am MST!


*Note that reserving spots on the bus to Lake O'Hara for just a day has gone to a lottery system. You can enter the lottery between March 1 - March 30, 2022. More information on the lottery will be found here on the Lake O'Hara website. - To enter the lottery, follow the link above from a computer. It won't work from your phone without a lot of searching.


Special Reservations for Shuttles to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise:

Reservable shuttles to Moraine Lake and the Lake Louise lakeshore will be online again for this summer.  Reservations can be made starting in the spring of 2022 for the entire summer.

As of now, the date is still TBD so watch the Banff NP website.


For full information on reservations in all parks:

Visit the Parks Canada website. You can also visit individual parks from this link to read up on the campgrounds.

We love camping in the national parks!

Making a Reservation on the Parks Canada website


As of 2021, Parks Canada has gone with a queue system for campsite bookings. I suspect they will repeat this system again for 2022 because it kept their website from crashing.

The basic process for booking sites is as follows:
  1. Log in to your Parks Canada account on the day that you can book sites for your chosen park BEFORE 8AM. 

  2. You will be placed in the queue and given a random number. You won't know what number you have until 8am when they shuffle everybody in the queue. You may be number 50, you may be number 5000. It is 100% random. 

  3. It does NOT matter if you join the queue at 7:30 or at 7:59. There is no rhyme or reason for your place in the queue.

  4. Make sure you have at least one to two hours of free time to make your bookings. If you have to work, try to find somebody else who has free time that morning to make your bookings for you. If you end up with a high number in the queue, you may be waiting for over an hour to get on the website to make your bookings.

  5. You can not choose your campsite before joining the queue. You can try, but everything will be shuffled at 8am and so anything you had done before this time will be lost. You should still know which sites you are trying to book, but have it written beside you on a piece of paper.

  6. You won't have much time to make your bookings (especially if you have multiple bookings to make.) Make sure your credit card information is handy and know what you're trying to book before you log on to the website.

  7. Most people try to get more than one number in the queue to increase their odds at getting a good number. This is only possible though if you have more than one computer/laptop in the house. You can not just open multiple tabs in the same browser. Every browser shares the same number in the queue. 

    You can however open different browsers on the same computer to get more than one number in the queue. (Example, log in with both Chrome and Safari.) 

    Note, if you do get multiple numbers in the queue, please go with your best number and then close all other browsers so that those numbers can be released to other people trying to book. 

  8. Make sure you're actively monitoring your browser as your number counts down!! If you miss your time to book your campsites, you'll have to join the queue again and you'll be at the back of the line. 
Reservations may be stressful at the time, but worth it come summer!


Other Tips for Getting the Site you Want!


  • You will want to book campsites the day that the reservation system opens for each park and at 8am sharp if planning on camping on weekends during the summer season. There will be more flexibility if camping mid-week or in the spring/fall months.

  • Tag team with friends to get sites you really want (especially if you are looking for sites side by side.)

    Make sure you exchange all booking info. with your friends ahead of time because you can't hold more than one permit in your name for the same date/campground. If booking for friends, you'll want their full name and address. You'll also want to know the size of their trailer or tent along with how many people they will have on their site. (And if you are booking for friends who haven't committed yet, you can change the name on a campsite permit before you show up.)

  • There are still several first come first serve campgrounds in the national parks if you don't get a site.

  • Consider private campgrounds if you can't get into a national park campground or choose provincial park campgrounds just outside the national park.

    For example, in Waterton, you can camp at nearby Beauvais Lake Provincial Park. For Banff, we like camping outside the park gates at the Bow Valley  Campground. There are many private campgrounds in the Radium Hot Springs area if you can't get into Redstreak as well.

  • Make sure there is a fire pit on the site that you are reserving. Some sites in Banff and Jasper do not allow fires.

AND THIS IS THE WEBSITE WHERE YOU MAKE YOUR RESERVATION: Parks Reservation Service Website 


The Bow Valley Campground is an excellent choice near Banff National Park 


Alberta Provincial Park Reservations


BIG CHANGES have happened here so read carefully!

Starting January 11, 2022 Alberta Parks online reservations on Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca will now be a year-round service. 

There is still a 90-day booking policy for regular campsites and backcountry campsites, but there is no more "opening date" for reservations. Simply count back 90 days from when you wish to begin camping, and mark that date on your calendar. Example: If you want to camp over the May Long weekend, arriving on Friday, May 20th, you would want to make your booking at 9am on February 19th! 

Also note that comfort camping can be booked 180 days in advance! That means that on January 11th you'll already be able to book these sites up to mid-July!! 

How it works in a nutshell: Beginning at 9:00 am on January 11th, individual and backcountry campsites can be booked, in campgrounds that are open, up to April 11th (90-days in advance) and comfort camping can be booked up to mid-July (180-days in advance.)

Wake up to gorgeous views in Alberta Provincial Parks 

Group camping areas can also be booked 180 days in advance starting on January 12th! This means you'll be able to start looking for group sites for arrival dates through mid-July on the 12th, depending on each campground's opening and closing dates. 

Why the changes? "Having the start of reservations differ according to each campground’s season opening date and the advance booking window (90 or 180 days) will help reduce the volume of online users and promote fair opportunity and access for all Albertans." - Alberta Parks 

Online bookings open at 9 am for each launch and can be made at the Alberta Parks reservation site

** And note that Alberta Parks has also gone to the queue system so you may have to wait to get onto the parks reservation website in the morning.


Group camping at Twin Lakes, Crimson Lake Provincial Park


Special Tips:


  • Follow many of the same tips as per national park bookings above. Tag team with friends (especially for group bookings) and pay very close attention to those 90 or 180 day windows!

  • Make sure everything is in your calendar with reminders! I even put reminders beside my computer, my coffee pot, and my bed the night before making a campsite reservation so that I don't accidentally forget.

  • If you don't get the site that you want, there are plenty of first come first serve campgrounds. Many campgrounds also have a small number of  FCFS campsites. A Full List of FCFS Campgrounds can be found here.

  • Consider booking a group site if you have at least 5 families coming with you. You'll get your own private campground or group area and will have lots of room for the kids to run around and play.

    Note that most group sites do not have power or services for RVs so you'll have to either bring generators or camp off the grid as we do. Most group sites can be booked with a payment for 5 units but some require payment for 10 units so make sure you check the details before reserving a site. Full info. on group camping can be found here.


Spring Camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Important Links:

Alberta Parks Online Reservation Information

Comfort Camping in AB Parks  

Backcountry Reservations


AND THIS IS THE WEBSITE WHERE YOU MAKE YOUR RESERVATION: Reservation website 


Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is a beautiful place to camp in Kananaskis 


British Columbia Provincial Park Reservations


Pretty much EVERYTHING below is NEW for 2022 so read carefully if you want to make reservations in a BC Provincial Park this summer. 

And most importantly, everybody is welcome to make reservations in BC Parks this summer. BC residents will not get priority bookings this year.

New Reservation Website

First of all, BC Parks is launching a new reservation service in March 2022. 

On March 15th BC Parks will launch their new reservation service at bcparks.ca. It will be "view only" so that users can go in, explore the site, create an account, save booking details and preferences, and get ready for the season.


Reservations Begin on March 21st for the 2022 Camping Season (Front country and backcountry)

On March 21st at 7:00 AM PT frontcountry and backcountry reservations will be available via bcparks.ca.

Reservations can be made in a 2-month rolling window with arrival dates up to May 21, 2022. This means that on March 21st you can book a campsite for any stay from March 21st through May 21st.

If you want to start camping on May 21st, you will be able to book all following nights of your trip at the same time.

After the March 21st launch, sites can be booked 2 months in advance of all trips. (So pull out your calendar and mark your booking dates on it.)

Backcountry permits are also available starting on the 21st, again with a two month booking period.


Beach life at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, West Kootenays


Reservations Begin on March 24th for Group Campsites

March 24th at 7:00 AM PT group site reservations will be available. The big difference here though is that you can book group sites for the entire camping season until December 31st, 2022. 


Backcountry Bookings for the 2022 Camping Season

Backcountry bookings follow the same process and rules as front country bookings and can be made starting March 21st with a 2 month window.

Exceptions:

The Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit - reservations will be available Early April for the full season until September 2022.

Berg Lake - Due to trail damage from severe flooding in 2021, an opening date for the Berg Lake Trail is not known at this time.

Camping at Surveyor's Lake in Kikomun Creek Provincial Park


Using the New Booking System

Accounts from Discover Camping, the current system will NOT transfer to the new booking system. All visitors will be able to create a new account starting on March 15th on the new website.

Know in advance that BC Parks will be using the Queue-It Software at peak times so you may have to wait to log in to the website to avoid having the site crash from overuse. If you haven't made a booking with the queue-it system before, basically you need to log in before 7am PT where you'll be given a random number. You'll find out what your number is at exactly 7am. Everybody in the queue is shuffled randomly. You may luck out with number 200 or you may end up with number 10 000.

I can not stress the importance of having backup dates, plans, campgrounds, and campsites (if you have a favourite you were hoping to get.)


Reservations are NOT Transferable once Booked 

"Reservations are not transferable. Reservation holder name(s) ("Occupant Name" and alternate "Optional Authorized Person") must be provided at the time of booking and cannot be added or changed later. Any reservation holders found to be transferring or selling their reservations to another party, risk their reservation being cancelled without a refund. If a customer can no longer use their reservation, they are encouraged to cancel it so that any unused camping fees that are not forfeited as a penalty, can be refunded to the credit card that was used to make the original reservation."

And know that at least ONE of the reservation holders must be present upon arrival and during the stay. ID may be required to prove you are the reservation holder. - So don't think you can just sell your site to another family and have them "pretend" to be you. 


Arrival Dates can NOT be Changed 

We all know how many people book extra nights to get a campsite on a weekend. (Booking Wednesday and Thursday night for example, and then canceling those nights later.)

BC Parks has come up with a way around that:

"If your reservation is made within the first week of the two-month window before your arrival date (the "restricted booking period"), you are not permitted to make changes to your arrival date. For example, if a reservation with an August 1 arrival date was booked between June 1 and 7, then changes to the arrival date are not permitted."

 If you book a site after the first week in a booking window you would be allowed to change your arrival date (but chances are you wouldn't get a site anyway if you did not jump on the first day of the two month window.)

And if you think you can book early, accept you'll get no refund for un-used nights, and just show up on Friday night, that isn't going to work!

"Reserved sites are held until 11 AM the day after the scheduled arrival date. If you do not notify the park operator directly of a late arrival, you will be considered a no-show and your reservation will be cancelled." - and your site will be given away!

Camping over Long Weekends

To make a reservation for a statutory holiday weekend, you are required to book a minimum of 3 nights.

The nights you must camp are below for 2022:

Victoria Day: Monday May 23, 2022 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights)
Canada Day: Friday July 1, 2022 (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights)
BC Day: Monday August 1, 2022 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights)
Labour Day: Monday September 5, 2022 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights)
Thanksgiving: Monday October 10, 2022 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights)


For Bookings, Follow this Link to BCParks.ca after March 15th 


The are some amazing places to camp across British Columbia!


Other Suggested Reading 


Camping Super Guide - This is a quick guide to all of my popular camping stories for easy reference and reading. I add to this page regularly.

Notable stories to check out:

How to Choose a Good Campsite (Family Camping Made Easy) 

 


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for another handy guide!
    Did you ever seen Lake O'Hara cancellations come up in 2021? I watched it all last summer and never saw any. I'm guessing parks never released them or the bots got them :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, I missed your comment. I never saw any cancellations come up last year. I think I checked a few times. I do believe last year with Covid that any released sites just stayed empty to keep the crowds down.

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