Top Tips for Making Reservations
We want to make things easier for you, so based on your frequently asked questions, we’ve put together some tips to help you navigate your way.
How to make, change or cancel a reservation
The process to make, change or cancel a reservation online is explained in detail on the Discover Camping website under the “Help” tab: https://discovercamping.ca/Help.aspx
For customers who would like more support, there is also call centre service available (a $5, plus tax, surcharge applies). Call centre phone number and hours can be viewed on the right-hand side of the screen:
When trying to reserve, especially when new inventory becomes available, make sure you are already familiar with how to make a reservation, have a few preferred sites in mind and have your contact and credit card information on hand.
When you are reserving more than one spot, each spot must be reserved in a different permit holder’s name, as the system will not allow a specific person to reserve more than one spot. You will need to have the other party’s contact information ready (please ensure that person knows since they will be receiving the confirmation email).
It is also helpful to be already familiar with BC Parks’ general policies (i.e. Camping Party definition, Additional Vehicle permits, etc.), that apply to all campers, regardless if they make a reservation or access their campsites by dropping in (First-Come, First-Served inventory). Camping Policies and Fees »
When inventory becomes available
“Opening day” (previously March 15) for reservations has been eliminated. Starting January 2, 2017, customers can make reservations (if available) up to four months in advance of an arrival date. Reservable dates for each park can be found on individual park pages on the BC Parks website or the “More Info” tab on the Discover Camping website.
Reservable inventory becomes available depending on what type of reservation you want to make:
Frontcountry campgrounds, Garibaldi and Mount Assiniboine reservations can be made up to 4 months in advance of your arrival date. For example, if you want to make a reservation for an arrival date of August 14th, that inventory is ‘released’ on April 14th.
BC Parks uses a 4 calendar month (as opposed to 120 days) ‘window’ since it is generally easier to understand when the inventory becomes available, but there are a few dates that can present confusion. For example, if a customer wants to make a reservation for an arrival date of August 31st, they would realize that 4 months back (April) only has 30 days. For this situation, the inventory is released the next day. So on May 1st, inventory for both August 31st and September 1st is released.
Groupsites you can make your reservation for a Groupsite up to 12 months in advance of your arrival date. For example, if you want to arrive on June 15 of 2017, you can make your booking starting on June 15 of 2016.
Berg Lake Trail and Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Reservations for the entire upcoming season open on October 1st, annually. For example if you want to make a reservation for any arrival date in 2017, you can make that reservation starting on October 1st, 2016.
What specific time new inventory becomes available
New inventory is released at the exact time the call centre is opened. This is to ensure that people making a reservation online have the same access to reservations as people reserving via the call centre.
Starting January 2, 2017, the Call Centre will be open 7 days a week (including weekends and holidays*): 7:00 am to 7:00 pm PT *with the exception of December 25th and January 1 when the call centre is closed.
Please note: Reservation requests can only be processed by the web server after 7:00 am PT. Lining up your reservation information ahead of time is not recommended as you may lose the entered data. This is to ensure all customers have the same chance of securing reservable inventory once it becomes available.
The time displayed on computer clocks may differ depending on your computer or internet browser’s settings. The Discover Camping reservation system uses standard time and is frequently refreshed to reflect the accurate time. If you want to ensure you are using the correct time, use Pacific Time according to the atomic clock (which is now prominently displayed by clicking the “System Time” button on Discover Camping or can be easily found on the Internet).
Length of time to make an online reservation
If you are inactive on your reservation for more than 15 minutes, you will lose any inventory that has not been paid for. This time limit has been put in place because when you are in the process of making a reservation, the system holds that inventory for you. By holding the inventory for you, this prevents other customers from accessing that inventory. 15 minutes is more than enough time to process a typical reservation so this time limit ensures that people are not inadvertently holding inventory.
Why the campsite you are trying to book may already be taken when you are trying to reserve as soon as the inventory became available
There are three explanations for why this can happen:
- Someone else is either booking that site or even just looking at it online. When you open a site to ‘look’ at it, the reservation system has to assume you might book that site so that multiple reservations cannot be made for the same site. The system will time out after 15 minutes of an inactive reservation (please see “Length of time to make an online reservation” for more details.
Once inventory has been released, you can book up to BC Parks’ maximum stay (14 days past your arrival date. For example, someone wanting to arrive at a frontcountry campsite starting on July 14th and staying two weeks, can book their reservation starting March 14th. This would book inventory from July 14-July 28. So if you tried to book that site for an arrival date of July 15th starting on March 15th, this particular site would not be available. The exceptions to this rule are:
- sẁiẁs (Haynes Point) Provincial Park has a maximum stay of 7 nights all year-round.
- Martha Creek, Mount Fernie, Porteau Cove, Loveland Bay and Ellison Provincial Parks have a maximum stay of 7 nights during the peak season only (June 15 to Labour Day inclusive).
- The reservation system will only show availability for sites that match your requested dates exactly. For example, if you wish to book a site from July 14th to July 18th, it would only show sites available for the whole time period. If there were sites available from July 14 to July 17, those would not show up. Nor would sites available from July 15 to 22 or later.
At peak times the system can be exceptionally busy
Peak times typically occur on a release date (four months in advance of a park’s first reservable date) or when high-demand inventory is released (i.e. exactly 4 months before a long-weekend). BC Parks highly recommends you try booking inventory during mid-week or in parks located further away from a large urban centre.
If you are experiencing busy periods, try the mobile interface during peak times:
- You do not need a Smartphone to access the mobile system; you can use any computer.
- This interface is set up to be easy to navigate on a mobile device so there aren’t pictures or maps as on the regular site, but if you already know the site you want, this can be a quicker way to make a reservation!
- This interface does not provide access to make group, day-use shelter or Bowron Lake Canoe or Berg Lake Trail backcountry reservations. To access reservations for these resources or to view images and campground maps, please the Full site.
Check back frequently
Plans change, so sometimes inventory that was already reserved becomes available at a later date when someone changes or cancels their reservation. Try checking the Discover Camping website frequently to see if you can benefit from someone else’s change of plans.
You can only reserve one camping party per frontcountry campsite
The definition of a “camping party” (including the amount of permissible vehicles) is defined by the BC Parks Recreation Use Fees Regulation and the definition can be found here: bcparks.ca/fees. The reservation system can only allow one party to reserve in each site. In some cases, however, the site may be able to accommodate additional people. Campers must check with the Park Facility Operator to see if accommodations can be made.
Why the system won’t let you make a reservation
There are several reasons why you might not be able to make a reservation. Usually the system will send you a “pop-up” message indicating what the trouble is, but also, please double-check the following:
You are trying to reserve too far away from your arrival date:
Many of our frontcountry parks are remote and or they do not have internet access. To manage reservations, these parks have a two day “hold” window in place where you cannot make a reservation to ensure that the reservation records are kept up to date on the ground. What would normally be a reservable site (appearing as a red or green icon) will revert to a grey-shaded icon when you are trying to book within this window. This grey colour represents the fact that this inventory becomes First-come, First-serve (or “park use only”). Only a few BC Parks allow you to make same-day reservations and they are listed below in alphabetical order:
- 1. Alice Lake
- 2. Bear Creek
- 3. Cultus Lake
- 4. Gordon Bay
- 5. Goldstream
- 6. Herald
- 7. Kikomun Creek
- 8. Kokanee Creek
- 9. Lakelse Lake
- 10. Miracle Beach
- 11. Okanagan Lake (South)
- 12. Porteau Cove
- 13. Rathtrevor Beach
- 14. Shuswap Lake
Please note, during the shoulder season (May-June or after Labour Day) these parks may also have a two-day window in effect.
You are trying to reserve at time that is not available for reservations:
Please check the “more info” tab for the reservable dates on the specific campsite to ensure you are booking during a time that the campground is actually open and accepting reservations, especially before June 15 or after the Labour Day weekend.
You have equipment that the site cannot accommodate:
In step 4 of the reservation process, you have included the type of equipment you are using to camp. Since BC Parks has a variety of sites (from walk-in to fully serviced RV spots) the system will only allow you to book a site that can accommodate the equipment you have indicated.
You are trying to reserve only a partial stay during a long weekend:
BC Parks has a 3 day minimum stay policy during long weekends:
Customers booking a frontcountry campsite on one of B.C.’s statutory holiday weekends must include both the Friday and Saturday night and at least one additional adjacent night. This policy applies to frontcountry campsites starting on the Easter and ending on the Labour Day long-weekend. To clarify, this rule means that campers cannot make reservations arriving on these dates and stay fewer than 3 nights and they cannot depart on the Saturday of a long weekend. If the statutory holiday falls on the Friday, the restriction will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday night stays and if the statutory holiday falls on the Monday, the requirement will be for Friday, Saturday and Sunday night stays. If the statutory holiday falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, no minimum stay is required.
You are trying to reserve more than the maximum stay policy allows:
The reservation system will not allow you to book more than the appropriate maximum stay after your arrival date. For most provincial parks the maximum stay is 14 nights.
The exceptions to this rule are:
- sẁiẁs (Haynes Point) Provincial Park has a maximum stay of 7 nights all year-round.
You are trying to reserve first-come, first-served (non-reservable) inventory:
Some of the campgrounds on the reservation system are 100% reservable, while others offer first-come, first-served (FCFS) inventory. FCFS sites generally appear a yellow icon, but some reservable sites will appear a grey-shaded icon, depending on how close to your arrival date you are trying to book (Please see “You are trying to reserve too close to your arrival date” for more information). The only way to verify if a FCFS site is available or not, is to go to the park. However, there is a FCFS availability tool on Discover Camping, which attempts to show you the probability of securing a FCFS site at each park.