Smoke haze from forest fires burning in Alberta and British Columbia hangs over Banff, Alta., in Banff National Park, Friday, July 21, 2017. Visitors to Banff National Park in Alberta will soon have to reserve a spot for a shuttle bus to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Parks Canada opens summer reservations for shuttle buses, camping sites

Parks Canada is to start accepting online reservations for 75 per cent of seats on April 1

Visitors to Banff National Park in Alberta will soon have to reserve a spot for a shuttle bus to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

The shuttle buses, which run from mid-May to mid-October, started in 2016 because parking lots at the popular tourist spots are often full by sunrise.

“Lake Louise is probably the most popular destination in Banff National Park,” said Jed Cochrane, acting visitor experience manager with Parks Canada. “It’s an internationally iconic location now. People come from all over the world to come see it.”

He said the shuttle has also become extremely busy, with long lineups on some days.

“The fact that we had two-hour lineups last year indicates the number of people who want to come to see Lake Louise,” he said. “Visitors told us loud and clear that is not something they found positive.”

This year, visitors can book ahead and leave their vehicles at a park-and-ride lot set up along the Trans-Canada Highway.

Parks Canada is to start accepting online reservations for 75 per cent of seats on April 1. The remaining 25 per cent of seats will be released two days before the booking date, he said.

The federal agency has already started taking camping reservations for national parks across Canada.

“We’re into the season of online reservations,” said Cochrane.

Campers can start booking front-country sites in Banff National Park at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

“We had record-breaking numbers last year,” he said. “We had basically 13,000 in 2018 and then we had 18,000 in 2019, so we had a bump of about 5,000 in the first 24-hour period.”

Jasper National Park in Alberta, Pacific Rim in British Columbia and Kluane National Park in Yukon are already open for bookings.

Online reservations for camping at other national parks, as well as backcountry camping, open throughout the month.

The Canadian Press

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