Parks Canada pushes back opening of popular camping reservation system from Jan. to April

Parks Canada has announced it will push back the opening of its popular online parks reservation system from January to April in 2021.

The plan is designed to allow for fewer cancellations due to changed plans, as well as to allow people to plan their vacation closer to the time they will travel, Parks Canada said.

The change was announced on social media on Monday. 

The reservation system will be open to campers and travellers in April for dates starting in May 2021, through March 2022.

The online reservation system services 38 national parks and historic sites, including popular Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, Alta., and is often overwhelmed with reservations on opening days. 

In past years, campsites or so-called oTENTiks, which are cabin-like structures maintained by Parks Canada, have been snatched up very quickly, and would-be campers have waited hours for the chance to snap up a spot in the system.

This year, the opening dates are staggered from coast to coast, with B.C. opening the reservation system first on April 6, followed by Alberta on April 9, working eastward to the final opening dates of April 26 for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Each province has staggered dates for different parks. For example, in Alberta, Jasper opens April 9 while Banff opens April 12. There is a complete list on the Parks Canada website.

For early spring or winter camping,reservations are already open for dates up to the end of March 2021, and the next reservation opportunities, starting in April 2021, will open December 16, 2020.

COVID-19 safety is also a factor. The Parks Canada website says the agency is working closely with Indigenous partners and communities to ensure safe numbers in the parks, as well as safe tourism and camping practices.

For more information on national parks and to book a reservation, go to the Parks Canada Reservation Service or call the reservation line at 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783).

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