January 11, 2017 2:03 pm
Updated: January 12, 2017 7:35 pm

Jasper, Banff National Park summer camping reservations being snatched up fast

WATCH ABOVE: Reservations opened for camping sports in Banff National Park this week, and as Jayme Doll reports, campsites may already be hard to come by for this summer.

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Summer reservations for campgrounds at Jasper and Banff National Parks opened this week and there is a huge jump in interest over last year.

READ MORE: Parks Canada preps for tourists during free Canada 150 year, conservationists concerned

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Steve Young, public relations and communications for Jasper National Park, said approximately 8,000 reservations were made by the end of day on Tuesday and more than 1,000 have been made in the first few hours of Wednesday.

“In comparison to last year, we’re up about 33 per cent so we’re already encouraging people to plan visits in May, early June and mid-September to Thanksgiving and that way you’ll get your spot,” he said.

Parks Canada said 11,100 reservations were made for Banff National Park on Wednesday, up 85 per cent from 2016.

WATCH: Canada is preparing for an increase in visitors this year as people across the country and around the world request free annual passes to explore the nation’s natural treasures as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration. Global’s Gord Gillies reports.

Young said the Jasper reservations for the summer long weekends are already sold out and selection is starting to become limited. He urged anyone who wants a campsite to act on it soon.

“[oTENTiks] are usually amongst the first few things to sell out so you might not get those. Most of the things that are available in the summer months are now on service sites. Those are your basic campsites with no services added to it,” he said.

Young said the high interest can be attributed to several factors, including free park passes to national parks this year.

READ MORE: ‘Free’ Parks Canada passes actually costing taxpayers $5.7 million

Watch below: If you want a camping reservation at a national park, you’d better act quickly. Since opening up reservations yesterday, Jasper National Park has seen a huge jump in bookings compared to last year. Emily Mertz has more.

“I think there’s a lot of awareness with Parks Canada in 2017 as a result of the passes. The reality of the situation is, for Jasper, having passes from July 1 to the end of August is nothing new. That happens every year regardless,” he said, adding the national park is consistently busy in the summer.

VIRTUAL TOUR: The new Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park

Young said online reservations are a “difference maker” as well.

His tips to would-be adventurers unable to get a campsite are to visit in the winter or to take a day trip to the park.

“The comparison I’ve used is Garth Brooks’ tickets that were hotcakes a couple weeks ago. Everyone knew if you really wanted to see Garth, you had to do it on the first day and as the days went on, it got a little bit tougher,” he said.

“We can’t add campgrounds very quickly, as you can imagine. The best thing to do is to get those reservations, get it locked away.”

Backcountry reservations at the park start at 8 a.m. on January 25.

READ MORE: Alberta parks get $500 million in biggest investment yet by Parks Canada

With a file from Jayme Doll

Editor’s note: Parks Canada first reported the Banff reservations increased by 54 per cent from 2016. They later issued a correction to say the latest figures are an 85 per cent increase from 2016.

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