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What you need to know about booking campsites


What you need to know about booking campsites


Guest post republished with permission from


Camping Reservations: Spring is the Time to Book for Summer! 

Now is the time for booking campsites! You can book up to three months in advance, and for popular areas and parks, NOW would be the time particularly that parks are free in 2017.

Plan ahead, because it’s going to be busier than other years! If you are booking any long weekends, don’t delay any further as those fill up fastest of all. Many of the popular campsites are already full for long weekends. If you can get away, best time to go is during the week- and pick less popular parks!  Spring is the time to book for summer. Winter campsites rarely fill and you will likely be safe for booking campsites whenever you wish.

Booking at Parks Canada

Parks Canada makes it easy for booking campsites with their online reservation service. You pick your province, the reservation type, your dates and campgrounds. Your reservation can be front country, back country, day use, or use of accommodations from Parks such as cabins or yurts. If you have any special preferences such as wheelchair access or power hook ups, you can also put these options into the search engine.

Booking Campsites in the Backcountry 

There are a couple different ways for booking campsites in the backcountry. You can find them on the Parks Canada reservation service above, or you can grab a topographic map of the area you are camping in and map a route yourself. This is particularly useful in case you would like to shorten or lengthen a trip.

When Codey and I did a backcountry trip in Algonquin Park in Ontario,  we used a topographic map to pick out the different campsites that we would stay at, and outlined our route. Not all maps will work for this purpose. You will have to get a map of the specific park or area you are looking to stay in. A map needs to also be at a reasonable scale so you can measure distances on foot. For example, a map that has a scale of 1:24,000 would likely provide details of campgrounds and natural or man made features. There are many resources for free topographic maps on the internet, or you can visit or call to the Visitors Centre of the area you are looking to camp in.

Backcountry Policies

While most front country areas and public campgrounds have amenities (latrines, campfire pits, picnic tables, etc.) many backcountry sites do not. Some sites do not even allow fires. When you look up the area that you would like to camp in, it is relatively simple to see the policies of that particular area. That way, you can plan ahead for them. You may have to buy firewood, or only use dead-fall as most do not allow cutting your own wood. The policies on latrines and human waste are also outlined. In some cases you may have to carry out your waste along with your garbage. It depends on where you are going and the availability of latrines.

Crown Land and Free Recreation Sites 

As far as I know, only BC has “free recreation sites” which are public campgrounds and trails available for public use. There are over 1000 of these sites in BC, located outside of parks on crown land. They are typically in remote areas so you can enjoy a bit of wilderness without much extra planning.

While BC has defined recreation sites on crown land, much of the rest of Canada has  different policies for camping and recreation. Depending on the area you would like to use, you will have to check the regulations. This especially applies if you are hunting or off-roading. Generally, you are free to camp on crown land, but again, check your chosen province for specific regulations. For example, you may need permission to start fires, or there may be livestock grazing in the area.

To Sum Up: 

  • Book now, and book fast for the summer: some campsites are already full!
  • It is a busier year than most because parks are free this year.
  • Make it easy to reserve at the Parks Canada Reservation Site.
  • If you backcountry camp, make sure you know the rules of the area you are camping in!
  • Free recreation sites are scattered across Canada, the majority being in BC. These are open for the taking and first come first serve.
  • Crown land is available for camping, but the policies for the land differ from province to province.
  • Go have a great camping season!!!


Original post can be viewed here

Thank you Kate for allowing us to republish this post!!

René Boecking

Hi! I'm one of the co-founders of 604 Explore and I'm excited to share my lifelong love of nature and I look forward to continue to learn with the 604 Explore community.

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