EDMONTON -- The largest campground in Jasper National Park is reopening on July 12 and campers will be able to book sites online starting Thursday.

Whistlers Campground is reopening after a $60 million renovation that took two summers to complete.

Parks Canada said in a statement that half of the nearly 800 sites will be available for park goers to enjoy on July 12. The remaining half of campsites at Whistlers will become available a week after, the park’s authority said.

Bookings will open on Thursday, June 24, at 8 a.m. and can be completed online using the Parks Canada Reservation Service

Parks Canada recommends interested campers create a My Parks Canada Reservation Account ahead of time to be ready for online reservations. The park says they expect a “high volume” of people reserving sites at Whistlers Campground on the first day of bookings.

The renovations included building a new registration centre and three all-gender accessible washrooms.

Wider roads throughout the campground will allow for two-way RV traffic and a new separate entrance road for guests returning to the site after already registering will help alleviate traffic bottlenecks, Parks Canada said.

Eighteen new combined shower and washroom facilities throughout the campground have been built. According to Parks Canada, campers will not have to walk more than 250 metres in order to use a washroom or shower.

Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of the environment, said in a statement that the renovations will help contribute to tourism and high-quality experiences for park visitors in Jasper.

“Throughout the pandemic, Albertans and all Canadians, have reconnected and rediscovered nature,” Wilkinson said.

“These substantial investments our government has made in Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park will ensure this iconic national park continues to offer safe and breathtaking experiences to Albertans and visitors from all around the globe for decades to come.”

According to Parks Canada, visitors to the renovated campground will notice young saplings in place of many of the removed mature trees.

“It will take many years for these saplings to gain height,” Parks Canada said in a statement. “In the meantime, many campsites in Whistlers now have more sun and greater mountain views than before.”

Ground around electrical, sewer, and water lines was “significantly disturbed,” Parks Canada said as Whistlers underwent utilities upgrading. The park authority is asking campers to stay off the newly seeded areas to ensure natural grasses and vegetation can grow. 

Parks Canada says it hopes to hold an official grand reopening ceremony in spring 2022 when all renovation work is completed.