Early reservations up at B.C. parks

Discover Camping noted a 41 per cent increase in opening day reservations over last year

Camping in B.C.’s provincial parks appears to be an increasingly popular vacation option, with early reservations soaring this year for making camping reservations in the parks.

B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake says there was a 41 per cent jump in the number of bookings for campsites on the provincial Discover Camping reservations system’s opening day this year, March 15, compared to opening day last year. He says in the first hour more than 2,100 reservations were made — about 35 per minute.

Discover Camping received a total of 3,970 reservations on opening day compared to 2,815 in 2011, with the majority of this year’s reservations made online. Campers’ top two picks were Bear Creek Park near West Kelowna and Porteau Cove Park south of Squamish. Reservations are accepted up to 90 days in advance.

The provincial government says B.C. parks are enjoying a surge in interest with British Columbians. More than 90 per cent of this year’s early reservations were from B.C. people wanting to take their tent, trailer or RV to a B.C. Parks campsite.

This year campers are allowed to make up to three reservations in one transaction. Discover Camping allows people to go online to view the availability and amenities at more than 125 reservable campgrounds, including group sites, in 94 provincial parks across the province. The service offers information, maps and details about amenities.

The online reservation system is at www.discovercamping.ca. The system also offers mobile web services so smartphone users can easily make and change plans from the open road. For a surcharge of $5, reservations can also be made through the call centre at 1-800-689-9025.

The overall B.C. Parks system has 10,700 vehicle-accessible campsites, 126 boat launch areas, about 6,000 kilometres of hiking trails, and more than 230 parks have facilities for those with disabilities.