Home Canadian News Alberta Parks releases new campsite booking website

Alberta Parks releases new campsite booking website

Alberta Parks releases new campsite booking website

The new website has new features including a “Camping This Weekend” tab that shows remaining campsites available for last-minute bookings

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If Alberta Parks’ now-former booking system was a flip phone, the provincial parks agency believes it’s entering its smartphone era.

Alberta Parks on Monday rolled out its new campsite booking platform, putting to bed its aging 15-year-old website — a change that means the agency no longer has to control how many users are on its site, and will allow campers to “favourite” their top campsites, among other new functions.

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“As much as we loved our old website very much, we’ve had her since 2009,” said Nancy MacDonald, executive director of visitor experience and business for Alberta Parks.

“She’s essentially a flip phone.”

Pent-up demand for camping during pandemic put pressure on old website

The switch comes a little over a week before the first camping reservations open for 2024.

The new Alberta Parks system is also under a new domain name, meaning that after Sunday, Feb. 18, when Alberta Parks officially axes its old website, campers who used the previous site won’t be able to check their camping history online.

MacDonald suggested campers visit the old site before Sunday and manually recording their history elsewhere.

In turn, campers will need to create a new account on the website, which they can visit at shop.albertaparks.ca.

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Alberta Parks’ online queue — a familiar feature of the booking process for avid campers which controlled the number of users on the site at a time, often resulting in wait times — will also be done away with on the new site.

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“We really want to make sure that we’re giving visitors an experience that they that they can get through without too many hiccups,” MacDonald said, adding pent-up demand for camping during COVID-19 put fresh pressure on the old website.

The site comes with several new functions intended to enhance campers’ experience.

For last-minute bookings, it includes a “Camping This Weekend” tab that lists all campsites available. Campers can now pay using Mastercard and Visa debit.

‘We’re not quite the Taylor Swift experience’

Alberta’s first slate of camping reservations open for booking next week, though many campsites won’t be available until later in the year. Backcountry and individual campsites are available in a 90-day rolling window, meaning many sites in July and August won’t be bookable until April or later. Comfort and group camping options are open on a 180-day rolling window.

It’s a different from the approach taken by Parks Canada, which opens the entire year for bookings are various dates in the winter. Reservations in Jasper National Park have already opened, and bookings in Banff National Park open on Jan. 26 at 8 a.m. MT.

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It may take time for campers to adjust to the new website, MacDonald said, encouraging them to review Alberta Parks’ frequently-asked-questions documents, which include a guide on how to navigate the new system.

“Change is never easy for people, especially when there’s a feeling of, ‘Oh my goodness, I have to hurry,’” she said.

“We’re not quite the Taylor Swift experience, but there’s certainly lots of people who would very much like to get a site reserved for the summer, and we know there’s going to be some change that people need to get used to.”

Most sites aren’t fully booked when they first open to bookings — but Dinosaur Provincial Park campsites often get snatched up early, MacDonald said.

Campers wanting to access their camping history after the Sunday deadline can call Alberta Parks at 1-877-537-2757. Account-holders on the old Alberta Parks site can log into their account until Sunday at reserve.albertaparks.ca.

Reservations open on the following days at 9 a.m. MT:

Backcountry camping: Feb. 20
Comfort camping: Feb 22
Individual campsites: Feb. 26
Group camping: Feb. 28

X: @mattscace67

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