THUNDER BAY — COVID-19 has ramped up interest in camping in Ontario's provincial parks, creating greater challenges for people looking for specific dates this summer.
The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks says bookings are coming in at an even faster rate than last year, when a new record was set with more than 11 million park visits for camping and day use.
A spokesperson told TBNewswatch there was a 121 per cent increase in online reservations received for Northwestern Ontario parks in the first three months of this year compared with last year:
|Northwestern Ontario Park Reservations|
|Jan. 1 to March 28, 2020||8,288 reservations|
|Jan. 1 to March 28, 2021||18,329 reservations|
"With more than double the number of customers attempting to make reservations arriving during the months of July and August compared to last year, it is highly competitive," the spokesperson said.
He added "In many instances, there can be hundreds of customers vying for the same site for the same arrival date."
As of Monday, Sleeping Giant, Kakabeka Falls, Rainbow Falls and Neys Provincial Parks were 60 per cent booked for the May 1 to Aug. 29 period.
Most provincial parks allow a maximum stay of 23 nights at a rented campsite.
This year, the government is offering free weekday day-use visits from Monday to Thursday between May 1 and Sept. 2.
A permit will still be required to visit on Fridays and weekends.
The province is also extending the expiry date of the following permits:
- The 2021 Annual and Commercial Daily Vehicle Permit expiring date will be extended from Dec. 31, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2022
- The 2021 Summer Daily Vehicle Permit will now be valid Apr. 1 to Nov. 30, 2021 as well as Apr. 1 to Nov. 30, 2022
For customers with a 2020-21 Annual Permit, this is valid until Dec. 31, 2021. Purchase of a new permit for the 2021 season is not required.