Jasper National Park continues to be a much sought-after camping destination, as evidenced by the full return to pre-COVID occupancy in campgrounds, reports Parks Canada.
Traditionally, the August long weekend is the busiest time for campers. This year, that weekend saw every first-come, first-served campground full by Friday evening, including the Overflow Camping at Snaring and at the Icefields.
This is an excellent opportunity to emphasize the importance of planning your stay here, says Pamela Clark-Bell, Jasper National Park’s manager of visitor experience.
“Planning is more important than ever, and there are tools to make sure your trip goes smoothly,” Clark-Bell said.
“Most important is to get a reservation whenever possible. Don’t leave your accommodations to chance.”
Tourism Jasper says that visitation that summer has been strong with visitor volumes on par with 2019 so far. Occupancy has also been strong but down slightly from this time last year 2022.
“However, August has been solid, with last weekend’s occupancy reaching 100 per cent for the first time since 2019,” said James Jackson, president and CEO of Tourism Jasper.
“International visitors have returned, but we are still not back to pre-pandemic levels for transborder visitation. However, with another two months of peak season volumes ahead of us, Jasper is in good shape and has healthy visitor demand.”
Clark-Bell noted that Jasper National Park has 11 campgrounds, including those two overflows, all of which totals approximately 2,000 campsites. Jasper has more campsites and campgrounds than in most campgrounds across Canada and even in places like Yellowstone.
For those who are aiming their sights on occupying a non-reservable campground, she suggested that they make sure to be there by Thursday before a long weekend to maximize their chances of finding a campsite.
“It’s really important that people make reservations so they can get the campsite of their choosing that best meets their needs. That’s why we really push the reservation system. Largely outside of mid-June to September long weekend, there’s still lots of light availability and lots of options for people.”
She also recommends paying attention to the JasperNow page on Parks Canada’s website. It offers the most recent campground occupancy for the 12 reservable and non-reservable (self-registration) campgrounds as well as the parking lot capacity for 15 of the park’s most popular attractions.
JasperNow is updated regularly but is not absolutely current to the moment, she continued, so people must check it frequently. If a campground looks like it is full or almost full then having alternate plans as backup is a good idea.
“Have a Plan A, B and C and try to go early or go late to the popular hikes and sites while visiting the park,” she said.
On the same note, Clark-Bell encouraged people to plan out their picnics better. She has noticed far too many people leaving their picnic tables unattended.
Parks Canada recently cautioned the public about some bear groups that have even approached visitors to Lake Annette and the trails around the Sixth Bridge at Maligne Canyon. This has led to the bears being relocated to a distant part of the park.
If bears become habituated to humans and human food then the danger to the public increases.
“It can be tempting to leave out snacks for your family to graze on while at the lake, but your kids are not the only ones who will see the grazing opportunity,” Clark-Bell said.
“Both grizzlies and black bears have been increasing their presence around popular picnic areas in Jasper, because there’s usually a guaranteed food reward. Animals can smell your food and scented items.”
Clark-Bell reminded people to keep all scented items stored properly when not in use, especially after a picnic lunch.
“The instant you leave your picnic area, so should your food,” she said.
“Put your cooler in your vehicle and enjoy the lake knowing you are keeping both yourself and bears safe.”
By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Aug 18, 2023