Camping season is right around the corner, and British Columbians hoping to snag a prime spot this summer may want to familiarize themselves with the brand-new reservation system for sites within provincial parks.
The website soft-launched on March 15, enabling users to create an account ahead of reservations opening at 7 am on March 21.
The day that camping reservations open is often chaotic, and the site has crashed in the past with more people trying to book sites than the system can handle.
BC Parks hopes upgrades to their servers will make booking less of a headache this year. They’ve introduced a queueing system and beefed up their hosting to handle between 1,000 and 1,200 concurrent bookings per minute.
Users will only be able to book three sites at a time before queueing up again. In order to prevent reselling of sites, BC Parks now has a rule that the person listed on the booking must show their ID when checking into the campsite.
Ready to nab that coveted camping spot? Follow our step-by-step guide:
You don’t want to be stuck filling in your information once reservations open, so it’s recommended to create an account this week. Your information from the old Discover Camping website won’t transfer over — you’ll need to start from scratch.
Search for the type of site you want
Input the dates you’re looking for and the equipment you have — anything from one tent to an RV. If you don’t know precise dates yet, don’t worry. You can input approximate ones and search for availability at the next page.
Regular campsites are reservable up to two months in advance, starting March 21. Group campsite reservations open March 24, and Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit reservations open in April. Backcountry permits can be purchased up to two weeks in advance.
Need electricity at your campsite? You can now filter your search based on amps.
See a map of sites that match your criteria
The site will pull up a map for you. Pick a BC region to zoom in, and then click a specific campground to see more details about where you can go.
Choose your specific campsite from a map
Unlike previous years when users had to pick a campsite based on number alone with confusing maps, campers can now find interactive maps that show how close their site is to the waterfront, washrooms, and more.
Confirm your details — including who’ll be checking in
If you’ve made the booking under your name, make sure you show up to the campsite — only the person with their name on booking can use the site (to prevent re-selling).
BC Parks offers the option to put one additional person’s name on the booking. Use this field if you’re making a booking on someone else’s behalf, or play it safe by adding a friend on your trip.
Add extra cars
Booking a campsite includes parking for one vehicle. If your party will be taking two or more cars, you can pay for additional parking here.
Pay for your campsite
Here’s where you input your credit card information. If you cancel more than seven days out from your trip you’ll be refunded your camping fee. Seven days is the penalty window where you may only receive a partial refund. Transaction fees are non-refundable.
Success! Monitor your upcoming trip from your account
BC Parks’ new site includes a tab to monitor your upcoming bookings, making it easy to retrieve details, make changes, or cancel the trip. Staff hope this more user-friendly interface will encourage people to cancel bookings to receive partial refunds if they can’t make it, opening campsites up to others who want them.