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British Columbians can book a provincial campsite starting today

Last Updated May 25, 2020 at 7:20 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

The Discover Camping reservation system opened at 7:00 a.m. Monday

British Columbians now able to book a campsite at many of B.C.'s provincial parks, but not all

Campsites have been closed in B.C. since April

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – British Columbians are now able to book a campsite at many — but not all of — B.C.’s provincial parks.

The Discover Camping portal opened at 7:00 a.m., giving preferential access to B.C. residents for the upcoming season.

“Non-BC residents with existing reservations are asked to contact the call centre before June 15 to cancel and receive a full refund,” the Discover Camping website reads. “New reservations made after May 25th found to be made by non-BC residents will be subject to immediate cancellation without refund.”

This comes after BC Parks automatically cancelled 11,000 reservations when parks were closed in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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While reservations for B.C. parks has remained closed, many people have already been pitching tents and enjoying the great outdoors along forest roads and sneaky side routes — some illegally.

But as of June 1, provincial sites will begin to reopen, offering more family-friendly spaces.

The new reservation system allows you to book up to two months ahead, and those booking will be for B.C. residents first.

Not every park is open to visitors yet. Garibaldi and Joffre Lakes remain closed, with the province saying those places are just too busy.

Locally you can head to Alice Lake or Cultus Lake with only a few changes in place.

At the Cultus Lake cabins, for example, check in is now at 4:00 p.m. to allow for extra cleaning.

Day use is permitted on the Juan De Fuca trail on Vancouver Island, but camping is prohibited.

Crowded parking lots, photographic viewpoints, and the burden on BC Parks staff has already been too much, keeping these sites closed for the foreseeable future.

“[These] Parks regularly experience high visitor volumes, resulting in crowding of facilities, packed parking lots, and safety issues including parking along the highway. Some even have long lineups to take pictures, such as Joffre Lakes,” says the Ministry of Environment.

“These high-use parks require substantial staff presence, high service levels, and in-person visitor management. Given how busy some of our most popular parks can get, these environments do not easily allow for the physical distancing recommended by the Provincial Health Officer.”

If you’re getting ready to head out to one of the many parks that are open, there’s a new essential to pack. Officials are asking visitors to bring their own hand sanitizer, and of course, if you feel at all unwell, you’re asked to stay home.