National parks to open campgrounds for existing reservations next week
Some parks will open their gates by Monday
The federal environment minister says Canadians who have campground reservations in some national parks will be allowed to pitch their tents and pull in their trailers starting next week.
Jonathan Wilkinson says camping will be allowed as early as Monday at 31 national parks — including Gros Morne in Newfoundland, Banff in Alberta and Kluane in Yukon.
"We're starting with existing reservations," Wilkinson said in an interview Wednesday.
All national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas were closed at the end of March to slow the spread of COVID-19, but many reopened to day-use visitors in early June.
'Enjoy the outdoors'
Officials had said there would be no camping before June 21.
Wilkinson said Monday's reopening of campgrounds, which includes those in the backcountry, is good news for Canadians.
"The weather is getting much better," he said. "This is a good opportunity to enjoy the outdoors."
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on international travel, staff will be cancelling and refunding reservations from international visitors — including those from the United States — until at least Aug. 7, Wilkinson said.
Parks Canada said Canadians who want to book a campsite at a national park should check the reservation website regularly for updates as additional sites will open up in the coming weeks.
- National parks, historic sites partly reopening June 1
- National parks closing to visitors amid COVID-19 pandemic
Each national park will set its own rules, said Wilkinson.
Gros Morne, for example, won't allow a return of camping until June 29, starting with RVs and low-risk backcountry camping.
In Banff National Park, backcountry camping and select front-country sites will open Monday but with some restrictions.
Equipped campsites and comfort camping aren't opening. Showers and kitchen shelters in Banff will not reopen and front-country campgrounds will be limited to 75 per cent capacity.
Banff will also keep backcountry shelters closed until at least October, says its website.
Kluane National Park is allowing overnight use of designated trails, routes and backcountry camping starting Monday. "Registration and de-registration by phone is mandatory for all overnight use."
The park is also asking users to maintain a two-metre distance from people outside their household bubble. Backcountry outhouses will not be maintained.
Parks Canada is reminding all Canadians who plan to travel outside of their home province to camp in a national park that they need to follow the rules and regulations in the one they are visiting.
"Some provinces and territories allow only essential inbound travel at this time. Others require that outside visitors follow a self-isolation protocol," the agency said in a news release. "It is not possible to self-isolate at Parks Canada campgrounds."
Parks that are opening
Newfoundland and Labrador:
- Terra Nova National Park
- Gros Morne National Park
- Cape Breton Highlands National Park
- Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
Prince Edward Island:
- Prince Edward Island National Park
- Kouchibouguac National Park
- Fundy National Park
- Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
- Forillon National Park
- La Mauricie National Park
- Thousand Islands National Park
- Bruce Peninsula National Park & Flowerpot Island (Fathom Five National Marine Park)
- Point Pelee National Park
- Pukaskwa National Park
- Riding Mountain National Park
- Prince Albert National Park
- Grasslands National Park
- Elk Island National Park
- Waterton Lakes National Park
- Banff National Park, including Lake Louise
- Jasper National Park
- Wood Buffalo National Park
- Kootenay National Park
- Yoho National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Mount Revelstoke National Park
- Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
- Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
- Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve
- Wood Buffalo National Park
- Nahanni National Park Reserve
- Kluane National Park and Reserve