Manitobans sick and tired of snow and cold turned their thoughts to summer camping in a big way on Monday.
The annual online reservation service for campsites in provincial parks opened at 7 a.m. Monday, and by 10 a.m., more than 12,144 reservations were booked, according to Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship.
That's an increase of 42 per cent over the same time last year.
But not everyone was able to register quickly and easily.
John Unrau tried to register online and by phone around 7 a.m. but, like many others, wasn’t able to get through for hours. He decided to drive to the Manitoba Conservation office in Winnipeg to book in person.
"So I come all the way out here [to Winnipeg] from Niverville," said Unrau.
Tracy Elbourne is the head of recreation programming for Manitoba Conservation. She said the backlog was likely due to heavy online traffic.
"If they had some patience with the online system, they would have found they would have been in and out at 10:30 a.m. this morning," said Elbourne.
Camping season to start May 10
Most campgrounds will open May 10. Northern campgrounds and, weather permitting, those along the lakes will open May 17, according to the province.
The May long weekend will be liquor free in all provincial parks and some liquor-free campsites will be available all season in designated spots at Grand Beach and Birds Hill provincial parks.
Manitoba parks had five million visitors in 2012. Of those, 75 per cent of the reservations were made online.
Manitoba Conservation officials said this year the most popular site was Birds Hill Park during the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Long weekends and campsites serviced with electricity were also popular.