As the country reopens slowly amongst the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the first activities available to families and individuals is camping, RVing, and exploring our provincial and national parks. However, it won’t look like other years.
While the US border is closed to all non-essential travel, travelling between provinces is allowed, but discouraged. If you’re keen on getting out, we encourage you to explore areas close to home and do a thorough check online to ensure you can visit your destination before hitting the road. Before you head out this May Long weekend, call ahead to private campsites if possible and definitely reserve your provincial site.
Some private campsites are giving preferential treatment to first responders and are doing their best to make camping safe for everyone, but some may turn away tenters and only be accepting RVers. Provincial parks are being cautious about how many campers can visit and what facilities are open.
Highways through parks are still open, but parking lots, visitor centres, washrooms, and day-use areas are closed until at least June 1st.
Staying Safe in Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan has low numbers of active COVID-19 cases and has created strict guidelines to keep it that way. The province has restricted all non-essential travel to and from Northern Saskatchewan and has even set up a checkpoint at Green Lake.
DAY USE IS BACK IN SASKATCHEWAN
While it’s possible to get out and explore this May Long weekend, Saskatchewan Provincial Parks will have limitations. Day use is allowed (and encouraged – outside is good for your mental health), but visitors should still continue social distance and sanitization practices. Boat launches and fishing are allowed, making this the perfect year to get your fishing license. Hiking and biking on trails is also open to the public, but be sure to give everyone appropriate space.
MAY LONG WEEKEND PLANS IN SASKATCHEWAN
This is a great weekend to get the family out for a hike, bike, or picnic. For those with a boat, pack a picnic and get out for a cruise. Take advantage of the lessened restrictions with a day trip, just remember to pack the sunscreen and hand sanitizer!
THE OFFICIAL START OF SUMMER IN SASKATCHEWAN IS JUNE 1ST
Campgrounds reopen on June 1, but not how campers and RVers will be used to. Each campground will only be allowing 50% capacity to allow for an empty site between each set of campers and must be reserved in advance. Shower and laundry facilities will be closed and washrooms are limited to one household at a time. RVers are encouraged to use their own facilities. Campers are advised to bring their own firewood, as distribution will be closed to the public, along with recreational amenities like pools, picnic areas, and playgrounds.
Alberta Bound for RV Adventure in June
May marked the reopening of parking lots and staging areas throughout provincial parks and public land. This means any dry campers will be able to use the public land use zones (PLUZ) for quadding, biking, hiking, or RVing. However, while those areas are open, facilities like toilets, playgrounds, and picnic shelters are still off-limits.
What does this mean for May Long in Alberta?
Visiting backcountry areas or PLUZs can provide family adventure, but with a reminder to only choose low-risk activities. Boat launches and hiking trails will open for those who are itching to get outside and explore the province, along with golf courses, but washrooms and facilities remain closed until camping resumes June 1st. Be aware, there is currently a fire ban that prohibits all open fires, including campfires and charcoal briquettes. Propane fire pits and stoves are allowed, as well as cooking barbeques.
SUMMER REALLY BEGINS ON JUNE 1ST IN ALBERTA
Online reservations open May 14th, with campgrounds open to RVs and tents as of June 1st and will only be available to Alberta residents. Group camping and yurts and cabins do not plan to open at all in the 2020 season. The province intends to keep the fire ban in place to reduce the chance of a forest fire during the pandemic.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi reminds everyone not to overwhelm hiking trails or other communities, “If your favourite hiking spot’s parking lot is totally full, drive to another hiking spot. Be self-sufficient. Take in what you need, take out what you need; don’t expect that you’re going to stop for dinner or so in these towns because they just can’t handle it.”
BC Reopens for Camping, Slowly
As with Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, BC is reopening for day use in time for May Long. Boat launches, beaches, front and backcountry trails, picnic areas, and washroom facilities are ready for people, but keeping it simple and local is the key to keeping everyone safe.
What May Long Weekend Looks Like in British Columbia?
BC CAMPING AND RVING STARTS IN JUNE
Overnight camping begins throughout the province starting on June 1st, but visitor centres, nature houses, and concessions may not be open. BC Parks has compiled a very useful list of locations affected by COVID-19, so be sure to check here or call ahead before you head out.
Manitoba has fewer cases than the most Western provinces, so their parks are open already, but they are implementing distancing guidelines and banning gatherings of more than 10 people. Campgrounds are not limiting the number of sites that can be booked, but ask that visitors wear shoes or sandals in the showers and bring their own toiletries, including toilet paper and soap.