BC Parks camping reservations too hard to get, say residents

Increasing demand at B.C. campgrounds is leading some residents to demand more campsites.

Many B.C. residents say it's become too difficult to reserve a campground in B.C.

Camp sites can be difficult to book in advance at some popular campgrounds in B.C. (Chris Harris Photography)

Increasing demand at B.C. campgrounds is leading some residents to demand more campsites. 

Online reservations for B.C. campgrounds began May 15, and many popular destinations are already booked up well in advance. 

"It doesn't matter whether you book three months out or six months out," said long-term camper Jonathan Schneider. 

Schneider, a Victoria, B.C. resident, says long gone are the days when you could have your pick of the campground on a weekend.  

"One of the primary reasons seems to be that there aren't any enough sites," said Schneider. "And instead of adding more sites, the parks seem intent on making them fancier and fancier."

Nathalie Dechaine, lead for Discover Camping, agrees that camping is a popular activity and demand is increasing. She said last year B.C. parks had up to 21 million visitors. 

Dechaine says keeping up with demand is a big challenge for the province because ideal land for camping — near the water or old growth forests — is cost prohibitive. 

"Property values being what they are, it's not easy to go out and buy new campsites and build them," said Dechaine. 

However, Dechaine says there are still plenty of opportunities to go camping this summer.

Here are her tips for finding a campsite:

  • Plan ahead: try to book your site as far in advance as possible
  • Check the Discover Camping site regularly: plans change, and new sites even at popular destinations can become available
  • Be flexible: consider going camping at off-peak times like mid-week or in the fall 
  • Check out back country sites: they have fewer services like showers and flush toilets, but they're cheaper and aren't booked as far in advance

To hear the interview, listen to the audio labelled: Is it too difficult to make a camping reservation in B.C.?