Record-breaking summer for BC Parks

Lynsey Kitching

 

BC Parks has set a new all-time record in 2013 for the number of reservations made at provincial campsites.

This year to date, over 115,000 camping reservations have been made through Discover Camping, the Province’s camping reservation service. This is a 12 percent increase, surpassing the first time BC Parks broke 100,000 reservations in 2012.

Gwillim Lake Provincial Park, close to Tumbler Ridge experienced a very busy summer. Stacey Lajeunesse, who looks after the park says, “It was probably my busiest summer since I started in 2003.”

He points to the First Nations cultural celebration and the new playground as being factors in Gwillim’s high visitation this past summer. “I think the lake is getting more recognized, a lot of people who came this summer had never been. Word of mouth is getting around. We had quite a few families with the new playground, lots of kids coming to play on that this year,” says Lajeunesse.

He says fishing is also a big draw to the lake. “There are lots of fish,” he says and continues jokingly, “Not easy to catch, but they’re there.”

He says there are at least eight different species of fish found in the lake including rainbow and other types of trout.

Another attraction to the lake is boaters who come to waterski.

Lajeunesse explains for seven or eight weekends of the summer, the park was “right packed”.

Though the park operates on a first come, first serve basis, there is still park staff on hand who circulate collecting fees, talking to the public about activities and answering questions.

Provincially, 2013 also saw the creation of more campsites and campgrounds (Kleanza Creek, Martha Creek, Chilliwack Lake, Mable Lake and Bowron Lake) added to the reservation system, bringing the total number of reservable sites to over 5,000 in 95 provincial parks throughout BC.

Another interesting highlight for the 2013 season was the creation of BC’s long-stay camping program. This program allows visitors to stay at six BC provincial parks between four weeks to six months for reduced rates. The closest provincial park to Tumbler Ridge that is offering this program is Crooked River Provincial Park, located north of Prince George. The other parks include Tunkwa Provincial Park (southwest of Kamloops); Rosebery Provincial Park (north of New Denver); Blanket Creek Provincial Park (south of Revelstoke); Norbury Lake Provincial Park (south of Fort Steele) and Moyie Lake Provincial Park (south of Cranbrook).

All provincial parks offer seniors camping discounts available to BC residents 65 years of age or older. This started the day after Labour Day and runs through until June 14 of next year.

BC has 1,030 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas covering nearly 14 million hectares or about 14.3 percent of the provincial land base.

Almost 20 million people visit BC’s provincial parks each year.

For more information about BC’s provincial parks, visit www.bcparks.ca.