Some of B.C.’s hundreds of provincial parks and protected areas are set to open on the eve of the Victoria Day long weekend, but camping opportunities aren’t coming until June and July due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The province shut its parks down to all visitors April 8, on the advice of RCMP, local governments and search and rescue organizations. Restoring services closed for COVID-19 public health measures depends on continued success in keeping infection rates low.
Campgrounds and day-use facilities like washrooms had already been closed as of March 24, official concluding that the B.C. parks system is too vast to enforce public health rules on gatherings, and there were reports of parties and other unregulated activities.
In his “restart B.C.” announcement May 6, Premier John Horgan said some B.C. parks will be open in time for the long weekend that is the traditional start to camping season – for day use only.
“Let’s enjoy that, but let’s stay close to home,” Horgan cautioned. “This is not the time for a road trip to another community for a hike or a holiday. If you have a provincial park in your area, by all means, visit it. Do not travel great distances. We need to stay close to home. That is a key part of our recovery.”
B.C. Parks’ Discover Camping reservation website is expected to be in operation May 25, with up-to-date information and a search option on what campgrounds are available for booking. Most campgrounds are expected to open for arrivals on June 1.
Provincial parks that remain closed until further notice include popular destinations in Metro Vancouver, such as Golden Ears, Rolley Lake, Mount Seymour and Cypress.
Other provincial parks that are not opening for day use May 14 include Joffre Lakes and Garibaldi in the South Coast region; Horsefly Lake and Goldpan in the Thompson Cariboo; Shuswap Lake, Okanagan Lake, Kootenay Lake and Kokanee Glacier Provincial Parks in the Kootenay-Okanagan; Juan de Fuca, Kin Beach and Hesquiat Lake in the West Coast region; and Omineca and Liard River Hot Springs in the Northern region of B.C. Parks.
A full list of B.C.’s provincial parks and protected areas with operation status is here.