Are you excited to book a camping trip in 2024 but are trying to learn the BC Parks reservation tips and tricks so that you can secure your dream sites?
We get you! You know you’re dreaming of sleeping under the stars, cooking outside, enjoying the days with no schedules, roasting s’mores, and exploring new places? If you are like us, we can’t wait for the camping season to be here.
BC Parks reservations can be made 4 months in advance, which means if you want to go camping this summer, NOW is when you should be booking and we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks that we have used to help us get the best BC camping reservations as well as backup sites if we weren’t able to secure our number one choice.
Making camping reservations for BC Parks can seem daunting but follow these 10 tips and tricks and it should be a breeze! (Okay maybe not quite that easy but our goal is to make it easier on you!).
BC Parks Reservation Tips and Tricks – Before Booking
1. Research BC Parks
Be sure to research which BC Park campground you want to stay at and which site number within that campground you want. We always make a list of our top 3 BC Parks campgrounds as well as the top 5 sites within each of those campgrounds that we’d want to book. When researching, consider visiting a BC Park that is further from a city center. The parks that are closer to cities seem to fill up faster. Take the plunge and take a longer road trip to better your chances of getting a site.
The BC Parks website does a great job of providing information on each site number including the size of the site (you need to choose one that will fit your tents, trailer length, etc.), where it is in relation to amenities (washrooms, showers, day use area, playgrounds, etc.), photos to show you what it looks like, what the per night fee is for the site, how much shade the site gets, wheelchair accessibility and other important details.
Out of all of our BC Parks reservation tips and tricks, this one is of upmost importance!
Mom Tip: Take the time to scope out all the sites before you leave the campground you end up staying at. Then if you want to make a reservation for the following year, you know exactly which are the prime sites (close to the lake, playground, bathrooms, etc.). Plus it’s a great excuse to go for a walk or bike ride around the campground!
2. Determine Your Travel Dates
Weekends, especially long weekends, fill up quickly and are of the highest competition when trying to book. If you can be flexible with your dates and arrive mid-week and then stay for the weekend, the likelihood of you getting a space increases as you’ll be able to check in a few days before the coveted long weekend dates.
We always suggest having 3 different date choices in mind, so that if you go to book and the dates you want aren’t available, you already have backup dates ready (we realize that isn’t always the reality, as people may have strict vacation dates and can’t be flexible).
You can reserve up to 4 months in advance of your arrival, so knowing your travel dates will then tell you which day you can log in to make your reservation (ie. If you want to arrive at your campsite on July 15, 2024, then be ready to make your reservation on March 15, 2024).
3. Create an Account
Signing up for an account before the day you are set to book makes the process quicker and seamless. All of your information will already be saved in your account (name, address, etc.) and you can also enter your search preferences including what equipment you are going to be using (# of tents, trailer size) which is helpful for when you are searching for sites that will fit your equipment. This is also where you can find your current booked reservations and your notifications.
Being signed up and already done the BC Parks reservation sign in process will speed up your booking.
4. Invite Others – Book a Group Campsite with Friends
Many BC Parks offer group camping sites. These sites can be booked 12 months in advance (rather than the usual 4 months for a single site). While group sites don’t have a minimum party size, you will be charged for a minimum of 15 adults, so invite your family and friends and go camping together, as it is the most economical way to camp for groups of 15 or more!
Facilities at each group camping site vary, but many BC Parks group camping sites often give you access to your own covered picnic shelters (some with wood stoves), washroom facilities, beach access, large communal fire pits, water taps, and garbage cans.
Another great BC Park reservation tips and tricks, as it allows you to book a year out and beat the rush!
5. Know your Camping Terms
If you are new to camping or need a quick refresh, these terms are some to familiarize yourself with while doing your pre-booking research:
- Frontcountry Site: a site that is accessible by a vehicle and is within 1 km of a road or highway, often having amenities (water, toilets, etc.) not found at more remote locations.
- Backcountry Site: a site that is not accessible by a vehicle, is more than 1 km from a road or highway and have very limited amenities.
- Walk-In Site: a frontcountry site that is only accessible by foot, typically after parking your vehicle a few hundred feet away in a parking lot. You can’t drive directly so your site, so they are best for those tent camping.
- Camping Party Size: the number of people allowed on one site [a camping party must have: at least 1 adult (16 years and older), no more than 4 adults, no more than 8 people (including those under 16 years of age)].
- Double Sites: two adjacent sites that share a driveway and are open to each other (these sites allow 1 camping party each and must be reserved together).
- Camping Fees: these fees pay for your campsite.
- Transaction Fees: these fees include reservation fees, change fees, and phone booking surcharges.
- Group Sites: designed for groups of 15 or more people and often having their own amenities.
- FCFS (first come, first serve): many campgrounds have sites that you can’t reserve, so whoever gets there first, gets them.
Practice making a reservation beforehand. This will familiarize yourself with the site, and make the real booking day go smoothly. This is another one of our top BC Parks reservation tips and tricks!
It will allow you to see the sites that are green (available to reserve), red (unavailable to reserve), purple (only available for some of your requested dates), black (closed), or orange (usually means its a FCFS site, your equipment won’t fit, or your preferences don’t match that site). Practicing will give you time to learn how to navigate the maps, set preferences and your equipment, search campgrounds, etc. all without the stress of making an actual booking!
BC Park Reservation Tips and Tricks – Time to Book!
7. Be Logged in and Ready!
You will have already created your account on the BC Parks camping reservation website, so be sure to be logged into your account before the reservation time opens. Camping reservations become available at 7 am Pacific Time daily, so be ready to book 4 months before your arrival day at this time.
Have your researched list of campgrounds, preferred campsites, dates and payment card all ready to go.
Reservation Tip: If you are booking for very popular dates, you may get put into a waiting room, do not refresh your screen, as that will make you lose your place in line. It’s almost like buying concert tickets!
8. Stick to One Device When Booking
Less devices are best! During peak booking times, we always assumed the more devices we were using to get a site online the better. Turns out we were wrong! According to BC Parks, “Sometimes, when the system registers that there are two devices logged onto a single account, in effect trying to hold a single reservation, the system can read this as two people trying to access a single campsite, and this can cause the system to shut down partway through the reservation process, and the person will lose their held reservation.” So when it comes to booking online, stick to one device!
Reservation Tip: You are able to make reservations over the phone, if you don’t have access to the internet, but be aware there is a $5 charge for booking by phone.
9. Be Patient
If it’s 7:02am and all the sites in your preferred campground are gone, don’t fret. The system allows users 15 minutes to finalize their booking. So if other users have sites in their cart and don’t finish their bookings within 15 minutes, those sites get re-released. Be patient and you might just luck out!
10. Use the “Notify Me” Feature
What happens when there are no reservations at the BC Park you wanted, or for the dates you requested, and your travel dates aren’t flexible (which for many they are not)? Time to sign up with their new Notify Me feature! (a newly added feature to our BC Parks reservation tips and tricks).
Camping reservations get canceled throughout the season and with the Notify Me feature, you can sign up to receive an email alert when a campsite becomes available for your desired campground and dates. You can make up to 5 different availability notifications at a time.
If you do get an email letting you know that a site has become available for your location and dates, be ready to log in quickly and book it before someone else snags it. Getting an email doesn’t guarantee a booking.
BC Parks Reservation FAQs
What payment methods can I use when making my BC Parks reservation?
When making a reservation on their online reservation system, you can pay with Visa, Visa Debit, Mastercard, Mastercard Debit, or American Express.
What is the BC Parks cancellation policy?
This varies depending on when you cancel your reservation before your arrival date. For a full list of their cancellation and refund policies, check out their website.
What is the BC Parks phone number?
To reach the BC Parks call centre, dial 1-800-689-9025 (note: the hours of the call centre are 7am to 7pm Pacific Time and while there is no charge for general info calls, there is a $5 fee for camping reservation changes or cancellations made by calling).
What time can I check in for my BC camping reservation?
You can check in for your reservation any time between 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM on the day you are set to arrive.
What time do I need to check out of my BC Parks camping site on my day of departure?
All sites must be vacated by 11:00 AM, allowing the park operators to clean up your site and get it ready for the next group that will be arriving later that day.
Making a BC Parks reservation doesn’t have to be a stressful ordeal. If you make sure you are well prepared and follow our BC Parks reservation tips and tricks, then find that perfect site shouldn’t be difficult! Happy camping!
Have we inspired you to start thinking about your summer camping adventures? Check out these articles that are sure to help with your planning!
Is this a sponsored post?: No, it is not. We’ve been asked numerous times about how we book our BC Park reservations and we wanted to share the tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the years with our followers!