Friday, January 12, 2024

2024 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 camping season as well. Ready or not, it's time to pull out that calendar and to start planning for the summer.

The May long weekend is coming soon! 

National Park Reservations 


National Park campsites can be booked online for the entire 2024 camping season beginning in JANUARY this year.

Reservations will open in January for the entire 2024 visitor season.

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. 

The initial reservation launch date has been staggered by park to ensure that the website doesn't crash.

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


Banff National Park - Friday, January 26th at 8 am MT for front country camping and Monday, January 29th at 8 am MT for backcountry camping.

Scroll further below for more information on day use shuttle bus reservations for Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

And NEW FOR 2024, The Silverhorn and Rampart Campgrounds on the Icefields Parkway will be fully reservable (no more first come campsites.)


Jasper National Park -  Tuesday, January 30th at 8 am MT for front country camping and Thursday, February 1st at 8 am MT for backcountry camping.


Waterton Lakes National Park - Wednesday, January 24th at 8am MT for front country camping in the Townsite Campground along with backcountry camping.


Kootenay National Park, BC  - Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 am MT for front country camping and Monday, January 29th at 8 am MT for backcountry camping (same as Banff and Yoho for backcountry reservations)


Yoho National Park, BC - Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 am MT for front country camping and Monday, January 29th at 8 am MT for backcountry camping (same as Banff and Yoho for backcountry reservations)

Backcountry Campsites at Lake O'Hara can be reserved online for the entire summer season starting Thursday, January 25th at 8 am MT.

Reservations for guided Burgess Shale hikes go live the same day as front country campground reservations on January 23rd.

Scroll further below for more information on day use shuttle bus service to Lake O'Hara.


Mount Revelstoke National Park, BC - Friday, January 19th at 8 am PT for both front country and backcountry camping


Glacier National Park, BC - Friday, January 19th  at 8 am PT for both front country and backcountry camping

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


Day Use Shuttle Bus Service for Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park: 

In 2024, reservations for the Lake O'Hara day-use shuttle will once again be available by way of random draw. Specific dates for the draw/lottery will be posted on the Parks Canada Website as soon as they are confirmed. Check back in February for updates!


And check out my most recent guide: The BEST of Lake O'Hara in a Day!

Visiting world-famous Lake O'Hara requires a lot of luck every year


Day Use Shuttle Bus Reservations for Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in Banff:

Reservable shuttles to Moraine Lake and the Lake Louise lakeshore will be online again for this summer.  Reservations can be made starting Thursday, April 18th at 8am MT.

Reservations can be made on the same website that you use to book campsites.

And note, there is no public vehicle access for Moraine Lake. You'll need to reserve seats on the shuttle bus, take Roam Public Transit, or bike up to the lake. Lake Louise is still accessible, but the parking lot fills up very quickly each day so you're better off taking a bus to reach this destination as well.

Should you decide to drive up to Lake Louise, you'll still have to pay for parking as well, so the shuttle is again, my recommended way of visiting this premier tourist attraction in Banff.


In 2023, the Moraine Lake Road was scheduled to open on May 13th. I recommend watching for the 2024 opening date (for bus access) because it's a lovely bike ride when there are no vehicles on the road. You just have to time your visit so that the snow has melted.

Note the hiking trails will still be snowy in May, so an early season bike ride would purely be an opportunity to view the lake and enjoy a peaceful visit.


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.

Plan a day hike at Lake Louise or Moraine Lake with shuttle bus tickets for easy access 


Making a Reservation on the Parks Canada website


As of 2021, Parks Canada has gone with a queue system for campsite bookings.

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 MT (8AM PT for Mount Revelstoke and Glacier.)

  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


Everybody looks forward to that first camping trip of the season!


Alberta Provincial Park Reservations


As of February 12, 2024, Alberta Parks camping reservations will move to shop.albertaparks.ca. Inventory goes live for booking beginning on February 20, 2024.

From the Alberta Parks website:

  • If you already have a shop.albertaparks.ca account, there is no need to make a new account; just be sure to update your account with any changes to your information.

  • If you are a new user you can create an account now. Camping inventory will be available to browse on February 12th.

  • Head to albertaparks.ca/reservations to browse through Frequently Asked Questions and How To Videos and Guides on how to create an account and make a reservation, prior to inventory going live for bookings. 

  • Questions? Call the Call Centre at 1-877-537-2757 for assistance.

  • You will have access to your existing reserve.albertaparks.ca account until February 18th, 2024 to take note of sites you have reserved in the past as this data will not transfer over to the new system.  

  • Reserve.albertaparks.ca accounts and data will NOT be available after February 19, 2024.

Read more about all new updates with Alberta Parks Reservations this year here. 

Grab a group of friends and book some great campsites this summer in a provincial park

Camping Inventory Launch Dates: 


Backcountry reservations launch: February 20 at 9:00 a.m. MST 

Comfort Camping reservations launch: February 22 at 9:00 a.m. MST

Individual Campsites reservations launch: February 26 at 9:00 a.m. MST

Group Camping reservations launch: February 28 at 9:00 a.m. MST  

5,000 First Come First Serve campsites remain available across the province. More information is available at: albertaparks.ca/fcfs


Group camping at Twin Lakes, Crimson Lake Provincial Park

What has NOT changed:

Reservations can be made 90 days in advance for individual and backcountry camping and 180 days in advance for group and comfort camping. 

Once reservations begin, the first date when reservations can be made will be 90 days before the campground’s season opening dates for individual campsites.

Online bookings still open at 9 am MST each day.

It's all worth it come summer when you finally get to go camping

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



BC Parks launched a new reservation service in 2022, so if it's been a few years, you'll have to create a new account.


And reservations can be booked 4 months in advance of all trips (which is very different from Alberta Provincial Parks.) You'll be able to book sites for the May long weekend in January.

Backcountry permits are also available to reserve 4 months in advance of your trip.

And all new sites become available in the system at 7am PT each morning.

- and note that the Berg Lake Trail was closed for the 2023 season. Information has not been released yet for 2024 so visit the BC Parks website for updates.

And group campsites can be booked a full year in advance.


Beach life at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, West Kootenays


Using the BC Parks Booking System

Online bookings open at 7 am PT each day and can be made on the BC Parks Reservation website.

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

Read more about the queue system under national park bookings above.


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. 


You can not reserve extra nights to "save" a site

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!


And, pay close attention to the restricted booking window!

"If your reservation is made on the first day of the four-month booking window, you cannot change your dates. For example, if your arrival date is July 1 and you booked on March 1, you cannot change the arrival or departure date."

Imagine scoring a campsite here!


Camping in BC provincial parks 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 2024:

Victoria Day: Monday May 20, 2024 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights)

Canada Day: Monday, July 1, 2024 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights)

BC Day: Monday August 5, 2024 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights)

Labour Day: Monday September 2, 2024 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights)

Thanksgiving: Monday October 14, 2024 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)


Follow this link for information on making reservations


For Bookings, Follow this Link to BCParks.ca 


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) 

 


 






No comments:

Post a Comment

ShareThis