British Columbia

Provincial parks are open again — but that's not an open invitation to travel and explore, officials say

Some B.C. parks have reopened for day use in time for the May long weekend, but people are advised to check online before heading out as there are still a few popular parks that remain closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Some parks are open for day use, but check before you trek as others remain closed

Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, B.C. is one provincial park that reopened to the public on May 14. Not all B.C. parks are accepting visitors yet and people are advised to check the status of their local park before heading out. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The B.C. government is reopening some provincial parks in time for the May long weekend but is reminding people that it's not an open invitation to plan a road trip.

As of May 14, many provincial parks, recreation sites and trails are open for day use after closing in early April due to COVID-19 concerns, but some closures remain.

Popular parks in the Lower Mainland that have not reopened include: Cypress, Garibaldi, Joffre Lakes, Bridal Veil Falls, Shannon Falls and Callaghan Lake.

Elsewhere in B.C., closures are also still in effect at Arrow Lakes, Clayoquot Arm, Juan De Fuca, Bowen Island Ecological Reserve and Big Bar Lake.

In open sites, access to beaches, trails, most picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches is once again permitted, but in keeping with public health guidelines, officials are asking people to visit sites close to their homes and not to travel to smaller communities.

According to B.C. Parks, visitor centres and concession buildings may open on a case-by-case basis and, in some instances, playgrounds, hot springs and picnic shelters may remain closed.

Anyone planning on heading to a provincial park in their region is advised to check online to confirm if it has opened again to the public.

Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on Vancouver Island is one of B.C.'s parks that's open for day use only starting Thursday, May 14. (University of British Columbia, T.J. Watt/The Canadian Press)

People who do visit their local provincial park are asked to bring their own hand sanitizer and to avoid the area entirely if they feel ill.

In a statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also advised against visiting vacation properties, pleasure boating, non-essential travel on BC Ferries and camping.

Provincial campgrounds are set to reopen on June 1 with additional spacing between campsites and limitations on the number of guests.

Campfires are currently allowed but they must not be larger than 50 centimetres in height or width.

British Columbians are being encouraged to go outdoors during the holiday weekend but are reminded to do so with caution to reduce the strain on B.C.'s first responders and 2,500 search and rescue volunteers, and risking their potential exposure to COVID-19.

To find out more information on provincial parks, including if one near you is now open, visit the B.C. Parks website.


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