Camping is one of the experiences that many come to Jasper for. Sleeping soundly in the quiet lush green forests, listening to the birds chirping as the sun begins to peek over the mountains and watching Elk and other wildlife roam through the area as they forage on grasses and berries.
So for many of you who have been to Jasper National Park, you have probably camped in one of their 4 reservable campgrounds which are home to 1,516 campsites. The largest of their campgrounds is Whistlers Campground, with 781 sites. They have a variety of sites perfect for motor homes, trailers and tents. There are also oTENTiks for those who prefer glamping.
However, all of that is about to change! Whistlers Campground was built in the 1960’s and is ready for some major renovations! It has had upgrades and additions over the years, but the campground is showing its age and is ready for a HUGE face lift! Whistlers Campground will be temporarily closed for all of 2019 in order for these renovations to be done.
This renovation project will bring about some incredible changes and improvements and here’s the scoop!
Currently when you arrive there are 2 pull up/drive through kiosks for checking in. And when there are lots of campers all wanting to check in at the same time, this can cause a major delay and back up of visitors. This is one of the biggest complaints they get.
The new centre will allow for more visitors to check in at the same time, making for a more efficient check in process. Getting visitors to their campsite quicker and cutting down on wait times were the main focus when this new building and entrance were designed.
Washroom & Shower Facilities
Currently there are 27 washroom buildings throughout the campground, but only 2 shower facilities. For 781 campsites and potentially 2000 campers when at full capacity, this is completely inadequate.
All of the current bathroom and shower buildings are being replaced with 17 combination washroom and shower facilities. This will ensure there are enough facilities for everyone and campers won’t have to walk more than 250 metres from their site to use a washroom or shower.
Improved Campsites and Roads
The sizes and shapes of motor homes, trailers and vehicles have changed over the past (almost) 60 years since the Whistlers campground was first build. That means many of the roadways and campsites are not wide enough for some to fit. In many places, the roads are only wide enough for one vehicle to pass at a time. The main ring road and entrance roads to the loops will be widened to allow two-way traffic, even for larger vehicles. A new road will also be added for registered campers, so if you have already checked in and are just coming and going, you will be able to by-pass the registration centre. Campsites are all going to be leveled, graded and re-sized to make up for all the years of settling that has taken place over time.
New underground systems will also be installed. This includes water, sewer and electrical. Many of the current sites that have electrical will be upgraded to a 50 Amp service. With more and more visitors coming every year, the current systems don’t have the capacity to keep up.
Whistlers campground started with 11 oTENTiks in 2014 and in 2015, 10 more were added. Currently there are no plans to add any more, but the existing 21 oTENTik will be undergoing minor upgrades during the renovation process. Want to know more about the oTENTik experience? Click here!
Playground & Amphitheater
The campground has a fabulous playground, perfect for all ages. There is also a large grass field adjacent that is great for soccer, tag and other games. This was recently replaced and therefore won’t be undergoing any changes.
The Amphitheater is also a newer structure and no changes or additions are planned during the upcoming closure. Did you know there are programs for kids to participate in while staying in Canada’s National Parks? Click here to learn more about the Xplorer’s Program!
Pine Beetle Trees
Sadly, Jasper National Park has been affected by the pine beetle. There are many trees that are dead and need to be removed. They have implemented a Mountain Pine Beetle Management Plan and hazardous tree removal is an ongoing process. Last winter 1400 dangerous trees were removed from Whistlers campground. Visitor safety is a priority and the upcoming closure will allow for dangerous trees close to campsites to be taken out.
Don’t worry! Parks Canada’s Vegetation Restoration Program ensures that saplings are transplanted into the campground. This program makes sure that the pine beetle trees that are removed are being replaced with new ones. Protection of their forests is of utmost importance for both the local residents (like the one seen munching above!) and human visitors.
Renovation Costs & Impact
We were so happy to hear that these renovations are being funded by the Government of Canada. They are investing $3 billion dollars over five years to support infrastructure work to heritage, tourism, waterway and highway projects across Canada. Whistlers campground renovations are thankfully part of this plan!
However, with the temporary closure of Whistlers campground, that means 781 less campsites will be available in 2019, so booking in advance will be even more imperative. Reservations for now until March 2019 are open and summer 2019 camping reservations will open in January 2019. You can book your site by visiting the Parks Canada reservation website.
If you’ve never been to Jasper National Park, you should make a plan to visit. Camping, hiking, rafting, and soaking in the hot springs make this the perfect family destination. And with the upcoming renovations and upgrades at Whistlers campground, it will get even better! Check out this video and see our Jasper adventures!