Calgary Herald

Bookings for Alberta's camp sites set to open

- OLIVIA CONDON Twitter: @oliviacond­on

With only a couple of days until online reservatio­ns open for the province's campground­s this season, Alberta Environmen­t and Parks is gearing up for a 2021 season set to rival last year.

The booking system, opening Thursday, will allow Albertans to reserve individual campsites for arrival dates up to 90 days in advance. Reservatio­ns for comfort camping can be made beginning Friday, for arrival dates up to 180 days in advance.

According to Alberta Environmen­t and Parks, 2020 was the busiest camping season on record with nearly 290,000 reservatio­ns, compared with 193,000 in 2019.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, similar visitation numbers are expected this season.

“Several steps were taken by Alberta Parks in 2020 to help prevent COVID-19 spread and they remain in place for 2021 to support a smooth and safe opening to the season,” the statement read.

Aside from group camping, which has been cancelled for this year, Alberta Parks said the plan is to operate at 100 per cent occupancy for the entirety of the season.

“Most shower facilities remain closed, and shared sites with shared amenities like picnic tables and fire pits will have one half of the site closed. … Wash or sanitize hands before and after visiting shared amenities with high-touch surfaces such as bear bins, self check-in stations, boat launches, docks, water fill stations and dumping stations.”

Due to the high volume of expected visitors to the website Thursday morning, Parks recommends people plan ahead and have multiple choices lined up in case their first pick is booked.

“Alberta Parks staff will be continuall­y monitoring and adjust operations to support Alberta public health orders. We will notify campers should site availabili­ty or services change due to COVID-19,” the statement read.

Albertans looking to book campsites in B.C. will have to wait a bit longer, with online reservatio­ns for outside residents not opening until July.

“We are asking people to pick a campground as close to home as possible to avoid long road trips and non-essential travel,” said George Heyman, B.C.'S minister of environmen­t and climate change strategy.

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