Parks Canada is inviting you to come camping in Banff National Park this summer. And like a friend with all the gear, they’re willing to do all the heavy lifting and set up your campsite for you.
Whether you’re a first-time camper, a visitor who doesn’t want to bring a tent over on the plane, or are just looking for an alternative family vacation, Parks is hoping its $55 a night, hassle-free alternative will entice visitors to get a little closer to nature by spending the night at one of 10 sites in the Two Jack Main Campground near Banff. Each is equipped with a tent, sleeping pad, cook stove and lantern.
“We’ve already had 20 requests,” said Judy Glowinski, Parks Canada product development specialist, in an interview on Wednesday. “We think this will appeal to baby boomers who may no longer have the gear, and new campers who don’t have gear and may feel more comfortable surrounded by people who are also new (to camping) and can learn along the way.”
It will also intrigue visitors from the U.S. and abroad who don’t want to bring a lot of camping equipment with them, she said. For the rest of their camping needs, participants in the program are told to bring proper clothing, sleeping bags, food and cookware. And, if they don’t have any of that stuff either, Parks Canada has partnered with a local retailer who can rent it to them. They’re even offering a Camping 101 to teach nature newbies to chop wood, light and tend an open fire and other basics.
Across the country, the federal agency is rolling out Equipped Campsites in parks ranging from Pacific Rim on Vancouver Island, to Riding National Park in Manitoba to Georgian Bay Islands in Ontario.
With thousands of visitors expected at Canada’s national parks from now until the end of summer, Glowinski says Parks is always looking for new ways to diversify and revitalize the camping experience. The Equipped Campsite comes on the heels of an initiative to add Wi-Fi hot spots to some natural areas in Banff National Park, and follows similar programs like OTENTik, a more elaborate form of “glamping” that lets visitors stay in a cross between an A-frame cabin and a prospector tent mounted on a raised wooden floor.
In a tender posted at the end of April, Parks Canada said it expects to have between 25 and 50 Wi-Fi hot spots at key national parks and historic sites this year, including in Alberta, and 100 hot spots in even more locations over the next couple of years.
The move is part of a push by Parks Canada to attract a younger generation, Andrew Campbell, a Parks Canada vice-president, told the Herald at the time.
“When you start to look at the hot spot and how wide they’ll range, you’re not going to be on the top of the mountain and on the middle of the glacier and getting Wi-Fi service,” said Campbell.” It’s going to be around your campground at night where you’re going to communicate to your friends and family in ways that a lot of people do today, through Facebook or Twitter, putting your Instagram photo up.”