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Secure a Campsite for Summer by Booking a Spot Now

Camping is sure to be part of many summer plans this year. To avoid disappointment, reserve a campsite now.

A woman and two kids eat s'mores at sunset

Since the beginning of the year, Ontario Parks has processed more than twice as many campsite reservations as it did in 2020.

Between January 1 and March 12, the provincial parks system had logged 222,681 reservations, compared to a year ago when it had processed only 107,359 reservations for the same period.

With camping being one of the safest recreational activities during the pandemic, parks of all kinds are seeing a massive resurgence in popularity.

Book your campsite in advance

If you’re hoping to camp this summer, we can’t stress this enough: plan early. The Ontario Parks online reservation system is available for bookings five months in advance of your trip. At the time of writing in mid-March, spots were becoming available for mid-August.

“If you want the best chance of getting your dream site, pick your campsite in advance, prep your device and book as soon as the window opens,” advises an Ontario Parks blog that offers tips for hopeful campers.

Be flexible with your options

The five busiest Ontario provincial parks are Algonquin, Killbear, Pinery, Sandbanks and Bon Echo. If you’re hoping to book at one of these, have several backup sites in mind in case you can’t get your first choice. Flexibility may also help you land a reservation. If you’re prepared to consider lesser-known parks, forego electricity or camp during the week, your odds will improve.

If you don’t manage to get a site, don’t despair. Cancellations are processed daily, so it can pay to keep a close eye on the reservation system. Be ready to jump on anything that becomes available—it won’t be there for long!

Stay updated on safety protocols

If you do land a reservation, remember to stay tuned to Ontario Parks social media for individual park updates and check ontarioparks.com prior to visiting for the latest Covid-19-related advisories.

Consider camping at a conservation area

Some Ontario conservation authorities also offer camping, and this could be a good alternative to busy provincial parks. For example, the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) offers camping at eight parks in southwestern Ontario. This year, the GRCA reservation system opens for 2021 bookings on April 6 at 9 a.m. EDT.

Cam Linwood, the GRCA’s supervisor of strategic communications, recommends that campers set up an online account in advance to save time once reservations open. He, too, said flexibility is important—having alternate sites in mind and booking during the week, if possible, will increase your chances of success. GRCA does not offer a wait list for campsite reservations.

Finally, if you’re planning to camp outside of Ontario, be sure to get the latest updates for your destination—before leaving home.

Get more with CAA

If you need to rent a bigger vehicle for your trip or purchase camping gear and supplies, check out offers from CAA’s Rewards partners. CAA Members receive discounts or earn CAA Dollars® just by inputting their membership number. And before you head out, download the CAA Mobile App in case you need roadside assistance along the way. You can track your service calls from the app as well as find offers from CAA Rewards partners along your route.

Image credit: FatCamera/istock