Users slam Parks Canada for online campsite reservation glitches
Website overwhelmed as record number of bookings made, spokesperson says
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Several people said on Twitter that the Parks Canada reservation system is out of date, and that putting the entire summer up for grabs in one morning is unfair.
<a href="https://twitter.com/ParksCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ParksCanada</a>, when are you going to change this broken system? Why not have a 60-day or 90-day rolling window for reservations?—@KateWelsh
Almost an hour in and still can’t finalize one reservation! Way to go Parks Canada, maybe you need to open up each campground daily instead of Banff all on the same day since your infrastructure can’t handle the demand.—@veggienb
<a href="https://twitter.com/ParksCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ParksCanada</a> Your campground reservation system does not work. Why release the whole summer at one time causing crashes and delays every year? Please look at a better way of doing this.—@CgyChris
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.
<a href="https://twitter.com/ParksCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ParksCanada</a> it is really a nightmare... got rejected (again) and now my cart is empty, it takes too long to process... <a href="https://t.co/OcdtP2rlaS">pic.twitter.com/OcdtP2rlaS</a>—@freakonometrics
<a href="https://twitter.com/ParksCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ParksCanada</a> website sucks I am afraid had two reservations booked went to last step in payment while it says it was processing my payment it flashed that my session had expired logged back in they had disappeared now will now says URL not found <a href="https://t.co/G4a5yVZtjZ">pic.twitter.com/G4a5yVZtjZ</a>—@MerlinofCanada
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.