Calgary

Users slam Parks Canada for online campsite reservation glitches

Frustrated would-be campers took to Twitter on Wednesday to complain to Parks Canada that its online booking site crashed, froze or just didn’t work when they tried to snag camping spots in the national parks this summer.

Website overwhelmed as record number of bookings made, spokesperson says

Reservations for campgrounds in many national parks open this month, including Tunnel Mountain Village I campground, pictured here. (Parks Canada)

Frustrated would-be campers took to Twitter on Wednesday to complain to Parks Canada that its online booking site crashed, froze or just didn't work when they tried to snag camping spots in the national parks this summer.

Summer reservations for frontcountry campsites in several national parks, including Banff, opened at 8 a.m. MT on Wednesday.

But according to many people on social media, the process quickly became a shambles, with available campsites disappearing faster than seemed possible, screens freezing and users getting kicked out at the payment stage.

Some people also complained that the system processed their credit cards but failed to complete the booking.

Several people said on Twitter that the Parks Canada reservation system is out of date, and that putting the entire summer up for grabs in one morning is unfair.

Parks Canada issued a statement later in the day saying it experienced an extremely high volume of users, causing the site to slow down.

Spokesperson Megan Damini said that last year when reservations opened for Banff National Park, 19,000 bookings were made. Today, when reservations started at 8 a.m., there were over 35,000 website connections attempting to reserve campsites, she said via email.

The resulting slowdown made it difficult for users to add reservations to their shopping cart or complete transactions once in the cart.

Although the service provider took steps to remedy the problem, she said, some users lost reservations or received a "website is unavailable" message.

Damini said the system started improving within a few hours.

"Everyone maintained an equal access to campsites," she said.

By 2 p.m., the number of reservations had exceeded the total from last year's launch day with more than 20,000.

That set a Parks Canada record for the most camping reservations made in a single day, Damini said.

Backcountry sites in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay go up for booking on Jan. 23, and the Lake O'Hara campsites can be reserved on Jan. 24.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now