Posted on 14 March 2013 by Richard McGuire
Those wanting to camp this summer at Haynes Point Provincial Park will find spots in high demand when Discover Camping starts accepting reservations March 15.
Although the online reservation system doesn’t allow bookings until 7 a.m. on March 15, people can look at photos and maps of campsites on the website prior to that date.
Nathalie Dechaine, business and recreation analyst with B.C. Parks, suggests it’s a good idea for people to go online and familiarize themselves with the reservation system and sites available ahead of time as the servers get busy when reservations open.
The online reservation system has become extremely popular with campers and tourists across the province as there are several thousand visits every day during the spring, summer and falls months, said Dechaine.
The reservation system allows campers to reserve their favourite sites far in advance and plan their annual holidays without any major inconvenience, she said.
The Discover Camping website can be found at: www.discovercamping.ca.
Haynes Point is especially difficult to reserve both because of its popular location and because there are a limited number of sites, said Dechaine, who oversees Discover Camping for B.C. Parks.
Campers from not only across British Columbia want to spend time at Haynes Point, but people from across western Canada and many other parts of the country know this is one of the most beautiful campgrounds and locations in the country, she said.
Haynes Point is so popular that some campers have been coming to visit Osoyoos and the provincial park for two or three decades, she said.
“The Okanagan in general I’d say is very popular and in high demand,” said Dechaine, noting locations in the province with a high likelihood of sunshine are especially popular and the fact that sites at Haynes Point are on water makes them especially popular.
In fact, other parks allow a maximum stay of 14 days per calendar year, but Haynes Point is the one exception with a stay of just seven days a year allowed due to high demand, Dechaine said.
The Discover Camping website allows people to make bookings online for more than 4,500 sites throughout the province. Not all parks have sites that can be reserved and some keep a number of sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Individual sites are available up to three months in advance and group sites can be booked up to 12 months in advance.
Campers can see photos and amenities for each site.
A mobile website also allows people to make bookings, but has more limited information.
Dechaine said it operates on a different server, possibly allowing easier access when the main site is busy.
Other provincial parks in this area with sites that can be reserved online include Okanagan Lake North, Okanagan Lake South, E.C. Manning, Bromley Rock, Stemwinder and Otter Lake. Kettle River Recreation area also allows online booking.
Several new campgrounds in the province have been added to the booking system and several more are now able to be reserved 100 per cent online.
Also new this year is the system for booking double sites, which are designed so that families and friends can camp in close proximity to one another but still have their own campsites.
Now you will need to book both sites together until one week prior to the arrival date when they will be released as individual sites, Dechaine said.
Camping sites throughout the province are especially in high demand on long weekends, but the more popular locations also fill up on regular weekends and even during the week.
The Discover Camping system only handles “front country” campgrounds or those accessible by car with two popular back country exceptions – the Berg Lake trail at Mt. Robson Provincial Park and the sites on the popular Bowron Lake canoe route.
Besides avoiding long weekends and booking well ahead of time, Dechaine offers another tip for those wanting to be assured a camping space – go north.
“Try and go on a little adventure and explore a little part of the world you haven’t been to in British Columbia,” she said. “There are some really beautiful campgrounds, and of course the father north you go, you don’t have the same urban population vying for limited space.”