May long weekend means new rules in effect at Alberta parks
Shuttle services also started Friday to make getting around Banff, Lake Louise and Lake Minnewanka easier
With big crowds expected in provincial and national parks around Calgary over the May long weekend, officials are reminding visitors that new rules and enforcement changes will be in effect, along with free shuttles to help make getting around easier.
"These initiatives are again just to help not only keep people safe but also to keep the landscape intact for the future," said Alberta Environment and Parks spokesperson Debbie Mucha.
Riding an off-highway vehicle on public land without an approved helmet will result in a $155 fine while leaving a campfire unattended will cost $287.
More seasonal staff have been hired this year to help enforce the new rules.
Some campers in the McLean Creek area say even though they may not like the new rules and fines being brought in, they support the reasoning.
"The campfire fine going up, after Fort McMurray, I think that just makes sense," said Ryan Krieger.
Free shuttle service also started Friday between Banff, Lake Louise and Lake Minnewanka to make getting around easier for visitors. The shuttles will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Banff to Lake Louise — shuttles will run hourly from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from the Banff Train Station to Lake Louise.
- Lake Louise and Morraine Lake — shuttles will leave every 15 minutes from the Lake Louise overflow parking lot on the Trans-Canada Highway, running to the Village of Lake Louise, and Upper Lake Louise.
- Minnewanka Loop Road — Parks Canada is augmenting its Roam service with a free shuttle using the same stops as the Roam service with shuttles running in a clockwise direction and leaving every 30 minutes from Banff Community High School.
A weekend shuttle will also run from Calgary to Banff from the middle of June to early September. The cost will be $10 each way and will see 10 buses head west to the mountains each day and 13 buses return to Calgary.
"More options for returning at different times during the day is why it's set up like that," said Greg Danchuk, visitor experience manager for Banff National Park.
Parks Canada has also hired more staff to step up efforts to prevent people from approaching, attracting or feeding wildlife this summer.
Tourism numbers are expected to spike this year thanks to the free park passes being made available as part of celebrations for Canada's 150th anniversary.
Anyone looking to score a last-minute campsite this weekend is pretty much out of luck on the Banff National Park reservation system.
But those who head out early could get lucky at the popular Two Jack Lakeside campground, which opened Friday on a first-come, first-served basis. It won't be on the reservation system until May 25.
The Lake Louise trailer campground will also be first-come, first-served over the May long weekend.
Officials say there are also a few spots left at Tunnel Mountain, and those need to be reserved online.
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With files from Dave Gilson