Eager campers anxiously awaiting the May long weekend might want to brush up on a few important details before they load up their gear and hit the road.
Alberta Parks conservation officer Arian Spiteri joined Global Calgary on Monday with details on the most important things to know before heading out of town.
If you’re planning to head out to the mountains before Friday to stake your claim to a campsite, Spiteri warns lawn chairs won’t cut it.
“Lawn chairs aren’t a camping accommodation unit. So if you’re going out to the first-come first-serve campgrounds, what you need to do is you need to actually occupy it – and occupying it means with a tent or a tent trailer or some sort of motorhome.”
Reservations are accepted at some campsites.
“A third of our sites across the province are reservable,” Spiteri said. “So people can try to make a reservation in advance.”
“There are a couple liquor bans that are in place,” Spiteri warned.
According to AlbertaParks.ca, a liquor ban is in effect at the parks listed below from noon on Thursday, May 18, 2017 until 6 p.m. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
“This temporary liquor ban is implemented to deter criminal and offensive behaviour, underage drinking and excessive partying on the May long weekend, which were concerns at these campgrounds previously,” the website states.
The ban applies to all campgrounds and group campgrounds within the park.
Although most campsites will have signage posted if a fire ban is in place, it’s still best to check AlbertaFireBans.ca before you head out.
Drones are not permitted in provincial parks.
“If people just recently purchased a drone and they’re looking for places to use them – if you’re planning on visiting the parks this weekend – then leave them at home,” Spiteri warned.
“We’re seeing an increase,” Spiteri admitted. “We’re trying to educate people and inform them that they’re not permitted.”
Global Calgary meteorologist Jordan Witzel said he doesn’t expect any snowfall at recreational locations across southern Alberta, but said higher elevations in mountain parks could see some snow.
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Although no new snow is expected to fall, Spiteri said there is still snow in higher elevations.
“It’s important for people to recognize that if they’re planning on hiking, the hike may take a lot longer than normal because they will be walking through snow for a long time.”
Spiteri recommended hikers keep snow in mind when choosing their footwear.
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An avalanche hazard still exists in some locations.
“Large size avalanches can still happen,” Spiteri warned. “We’re recommending that back country travelers don’t walk on snow slopes and don’t walk on cornices or underneath cornices.”
To check for avalanche risks in the spot you’re camping or hiking, visit avalanche.ca.
Bears are active and can wander through your campsite if they smell food.
“Any time you’re camping – or even picnicking for that matter – you need to make sure that all your attractants are secure from wildlife and secure from bears,” Spiteri said.
“Garbage and foods are obvious ones, but sometimes people don’t think about pet food, recyclables… any scented items can be an attractant.”
Spiteri also cautioned against leaving any scented items, like food, unattended.
“If you’re going for a walk, if you’re going inside your tent or inside your camper, you need to make sure that the food is either inside your vehicle or inside your hard-sided trailer.”
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