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Limited camping opens in Banff, Yoho, Kootenay

“If there’s space, then Canadians will be able to go in there and reserve if people have cancelled their sites because they’re not travelling from elsewhere,” said Jed Cochrane, visitor experience manager for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay national parks
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In Banff National Park, Tunnel Mountain Village 1, Tunnel Mountain Village 2, Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court and Two Jack Lakeside Campground (pictured), Lake Louise Campground and the overflow east of the hamlet are open. TANYA FOUBERT RMO FILE PHOTO

BANFF – Limited camping services resume this week in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks, with more online reservations opening up over the coming weeks.

In Banff National Park, Tunnel Mountain Village 1, Tunnel Mountain Village 2, Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court and Two Jack Lakeside Campground, Lake Louise Campground and the overflow east of the hamlet are open. 

Redstreak campground is open in Kootenay National Park and Kicking Horse Campground in Yoho has resumed operations, the only one with some first-come, first-served sites available.

Parks Canada officials say the experience at campgrounds will be different this year, noting campgrounds are limited to about 75 per cent occupancy at this time, showers and cooking facilities remain closed, while washrooms have limited capacity.

“Things will be a little bit more limited than they normally are in order to meet public health measures,” said Daniella Rubeling, visitor experience manager for the Banff field unit.

“The important thing is, we’re asking visitors to be patient and be kind and make sure we’re all doing our part to keep each other safe as we’re using these facilities.”

Initially, camping at Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks will be limited to visitors with existing reservations. 

Parks Canada will gradually begin to accept new online reservations for some campgrounds over the coming weeks, starting on June 26 for Banff National Park. Visitors should check the Parks Canada website regularly for updates.

With no international visitors and non-essential U.S. travel still limited, Parks Canada says there are still sites available throughout the camping season, particularly on week days.

However, they say there are are certain weekends that are full, noting that popular Two Jack Lakeside is close to full.

“If there’s space, then Canadians will be able to go in there and reserve if people have cancelled their sites because they’re not travelling from elsewhere,” said Jed Cochrane, visitor experience manager for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay.

“We won’t be running our campgrounds at full capacity right away, so people coming to the campgrounds may see some empty sites, so we can ensure we’re following health guidelines.”

Other campgrounds such as Protection Mountain, Castle Mountain, Johnston Canyon, Rampart Creek, Waterfowl Lakes and Mosquito Creek remain closed at this time.

“It’s a bit of a wait and see game to see how everything plays out,” said Cochrane.

“We’re working to make sure we’ve got everything in place before we open any other campgrounds up.”

Meanwhile, Parks Canada won’t be running its shuttle reservation system this year, including shuttles to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Lake O’Hara in order to meet physical distancing measures. 

All Parks Canada Lake O’Hara shuttle reservations, and random draw fees, will be refunded the full amount plus the reservation fee. Visitors with reservations for the Lake O’Hara shuttle will be contacted by email with further information.

Visitors with reservations at the Lake O’Hara campground will be able to access the campground and trails via the 11-kilometres access road on foot, but biking remains prohibited.

Any visitors wishing to cancel their Lake O’Hara campground reservation will be refunded in full with no cancellation fees.

Cochrane reminds visitors to come to the national parks prepared.

“People need to bring their COVID kit, making sure they have hand sanitizer and other things they need to feel comfortable in a place that’s probably a little more public than they’re used to,” he said.

“We’ve all been living in our little bubbles and those bubbles have grown a little bit, and when you come to a campground you’re going to be sharing that with a lot of others so people need to plan ahead."