Alberta's new camping reservation system opens today. Here's what you need to know
Starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Albertans can book regular camping sites for the next three months.
Tuesday marks the launch of Alberta Parks' new year-round reservation system that will feature a rolling window of open bookings.
Campers can now book regular sites up to 90 days in advance, and comfort and group sites 180 days in advance, so long as they are open.
"We've had a 167 per cent increase in total reservations over the last two years, and that demand has put a strain and pressure on our existing reservation system," Michael Roycroft, Alberta Parks' Kananaskis regional director, told CTV News Edmonton.
"This year-round service, that will even out the usage of the system and it will give folks an opportunity to plan and book throughout the year, not just traditionally in February, when the system has historically opened."
It's not the only change Alberta Parks is making: the maximum number of consecutive nights that can be reserved at once is being reduced from 16 to 10. Multiple bookings will be needed to stay at a site longer than 10 days.
Roycroft said the department was seeing up to 50 per cent of those large bookings being changed or cancelled last minute, preventing other campers from using the site.
Alberta Parks believes the new rule will reduce the amount that happens.
"We're hoping that change will allow for a greater and more equitable access to the system," Roycroft added.
'THE NEW NORM'
Previously, Alberta Parks opened bookings in February through the fall. That method also meant back and front-country sites still open in the winter were available on a first-come, first-served basis.
"This is the trend that we're seeing across North America," Roycroft commented, pointing to Ontario and the U.S. "We anticipate it will be the new norm. It will take a bit for folks to get used to but over time we think it will serve Albertans better."
He added, "Once certain campgrounds open, I think we'll start to see a pick up of usage, and certainly the 90-day period prior to the long weekend in May, I'm sure we'll see a jump in increased usage there as well. But overall, it should streamline the overall demand on the system."
Under the new system, on Tuesday, Albertans can book regular sites that are open on April 11, and comfort and group sites that are open on July 11.
The booking window will advance by one day each morning at 9 a.m.
More information is available online.
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