Campgrounds at provincial parks across the West Kootenay are full most nights, in spite of hopes that a ban on out-of-province reservations would make it easier for locals to get a site close to home.
BC Parks announced in May that B.C. residents would be the only people allowed to reserve sites this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But a look at the agency’s online reservation system shows that reservable sites at West Kootenay campgrounds are completely booked for July and August, other than random single sites for single days here and there.
If you are really lucky you may be able to snag a spot if you happen to be online when someone else cancels their reservation. But don’t get your hopes up.
That leaves walk-in or first-come-first-served sites. But even most of those are spoken for before exiting campers even pack up to leave the park. This often results in would-be campers circling the campground, watching for someone who looks like they may be packing up. But BC Parks is now allowing an alternate method in the interest of safety.
In a statement to Black Press, BC Parks said that when the demand for accessing first-come-first-served sites is particularly high, park operators may need to establish a process to manage traffic flow and line-ups for these sites.
“This demand creates traffic problems in the parks with cars circling the campground looking for spots. This not only disrupts campers but poses a safety risk for children and families, and it can lead to tensions and disputes amongst the public,” said BC Parks.
“The safety of park visitors is paramount – and park operators do their best to ensure unnecessary traffic through campgrounds is minimized, and there is some process to manage line-ups and new campers looking for sites.”
At Syringa Creek Provincial Park, and several others throughout the West Kootenay, this means campers can get their names placed on a waiting list. This list is started fresh each day, and only people showing up in person can be placed on the list. People have been showing up as early as 7 a.m. to get placed on that list.
A notice posted at Syringa explains that sites will be issued on a roll-call basis after 10:45 a.m. each morning.
If you strike out at a provincial park, there are still a number of privately owned and municipal campgrounds peppered around the area that may be able to turn frustrated campers into happy campers. But overall, it looks to be a very busy summer at the region’s campgrounds.