If you haven’t heard by now, Parks Canada is giving visitors free admission to all national parks and historic sites this year as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations and if this Victoria Day weekend is any indication, the summer will be a busy one.
Dave Tovell, the visitor experience manager from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island, said the sunny weather coupled with the promotion led to a “fantastic weekend.”
We’ve seen some fantastic numbers at our national parks and our national historic sites. The people have been really enjoying themselves and they have smiles on their faces,” he said.
So far, Tovell says admissions to B.C. area parks and sites have been up 30 per cent compared to last year.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island and Fort Langley in the Lower Mainland are some of the places with big increases.
“We’re seeing a lot more people than normal coming out and visiting and we are expecting that throughout the summer,” he said.
It’s not only campgrounds and trails that are full, he said, interpretative events were also well attended.
“We’ve added more staff and resources,” Tovell added. “We’ve been preparing for over six months.”
Tips for a fabulous national park experience
Although many sites and campgrounds are filling up quickly, Tovell said there are a few ways to avoid the crowds and still enjoy the national park experience.
- Book your campsite or accommodation reservations as early as possible.
- Look into September and October if that’s an option for you. “If you can try and hit the shoulder seasons, less people around, and the views are just as beautiful. The foliage is turning and the wildlife is still around for sightseeing,” Tovell said.
- For day trips, come earlier in the morning, later in the afternoon — or evening — to avoid peak times.
- Phone ahead or check the Parks Canada website to see if there are special activities being planned in the site of interest.
- Be aware that other people are trying to enjoy the park. Clean up after yourself. Leave no trace. Pick up garbage. Pack wisely.