British Columbian Parks Draw Record Crowds Despite Rising Fees

British ColumbiaReservations in many parks in British Columbia reached new levels last summer, rising up to 19 percent compared to last year’s number of visitors. What’s surprising is that more people are reserving despite an overall increase in user fees in many camping grounds in the area.

A Wave of Visitors

The British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment notes that more than 24,000 additional reservations were made this current year, setting new records and dwarfing the rather humble 13 percent increase in visitors last year. The numbers also show that one quarter of the visitors came from outside the province itself, particularly from other Canadian provinces and the United States.

The numbers are surprising since just recently, the cost of camping in many of British Columbia’s provincial parks rose considerably. The costs now range between $2 and $5 more per night. Mary Polak, Minister of Environment, explained the rising fees in a government issued news release: “By increasing user fees in campgrounds, campers who use the parks system are helping to keep it sustainable for future generations to enjoy.”

Part of the reason more campers are going to the parks despite the higher costs is the lower gas prices. More people seem to be willing to go the extra mile to head off into far camping grounds now that they don’t have to worry about how much gas they’re spending.

Jane Seagrave, the author of Camping British Columbia and Yukon, also says the school holidays are bringing more visitors in. She quipped, “I don’t like the $5 extra I’m paying, but at the same time, I know the campsite, I know it’s good, I know I want to go there, my kids like it, I’m just going to swallow the price.”

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Camping in the B.C.

vancouver-islandThe British Columbia has a wealth of natural landscapes, and many of its national and provincial parks are among the most popular in the world. Vancouver Island, Golden Ears Provincial Park, and Okanagan Lake are among the most visited and are currently drawing record numbers throughout the end of the year.

Canada’s western provinces are dominated by impressive mountain ranges, rugged terrain, and untouched nature reserves, making them popular for campers, hikers, and outdoorsmen. The area is also a major skiing destination, rivaling its European counterparts across the ocean with sheer slopes and cliffs.

The Ministry predicts that visitors will continue to go to their parks until the first few months of the next year. Regarding the increase, Polak added, “The pride British Columbians have in our magnificent parks is clearly reflected in the increasing numbers of people and families who enjoy them.”