Though it may be the middle of winter, the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport is already looking ahead to summertime. Planning is underway for the 2017 park season and campers will be able to book their provincial park campsites beginning Tuesday, April 4.
“Saskatchewan’s provincial parks continue to grow in popularity, setting a new visitation record of nearly four million visits in 2016,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said. “We know that families are excited to plan their next visit and we look forward to providing them with the high quality experience they have come to expect.”
As in past years, the launch will be staggered over a 10 day period, with different parks becoming available for reservations on different days. A queuing system will also be in place again this year to manage the high volume of traffic on the reservation website.
The 10 day launch and queuing system has been very effective at managing demand and ensuring the stability of the reservation system over the past three seasons. Additional information on reservations is available at http://www.saskparks.net/Reserve-a-Site.
The schedule for reservation launch is as follows:
- Tuesday, April 4: Blackstrap, Pike Lake
- Wednesday, April 5: Buffalo Pound, Danielson, Douglas
- Thursday, April 6: Echo Valley, Rowan’s Ravine
- Friday, April 7: Duck Mountain, Good Spirit Lake, Greenwater Lake
- Saturday, April 8: Crooked Lake, Moose Mountain
- Sunday, April 9: Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
- Monday, April 10: The Battlefords, Saskatchewan Landing
- Tuesday, April 11: Meadow Lake
- Wednesday, April 12: Bronson Forest Recreation Site, Chitek Lake Recreation Site, Lac La Ronge, Makwa Lake
- Thursday, April 13: Candle Lake, Great Blue Heron, Narrow Hills
Reservations will open at 7 a.m. each day and the queuing system will begin each morning at 6:40 a.m. As customers attempt to access the reservation website between 6:40 and 7 a.m., they will be moved to the queue waiting area.
Beginning at 7 a.m., customers in the queue waiting area will receive a random number and will be admitted to the reservation website based on their unique number. As new people attempt to access the reservation website after 7 a.m., they will be placed at the end of the line.
Applications for seasonal camping are now available online at www.saskparks.net. This very popular program is available at 20 provincial parks and offers the opportunity to secure a campsite from May to September at most locations. The deadline for applications is Thursday, February 2, 2017. Seasonal campsites are allocated by a lottery system and will be awarded on Monday, February 6, 2017.
There have been small increases to nightly camping, seasonal camping, group camping, reservation/change/cancellation fees and vehicle entry permits for 2017. Costs to operate the provincial parks continue to increase, and in order to provide a high level of service to an increasing number of visitors, adjustments to fees have been made.
Price adjustments are as follows: $2-$4 for nightly camping, $2-$10 for entry permits, $8-$16 for group camping, $113-$125 for seasonal camping; and $2-$5 for reservation fees. Fees for swimming lessons and organized youth group camping trips have not changed. A full description of the new fees is available at http://www.saskparks.net/fees.
Saskatchewan continues to be one of the most affordable places in Canada to camp. For example, a three-night non-electric camping trip for a family of four is less expensive in Saskatchewan than anywhere else in the country.
Saskatchewan provincial parks also offer great value-added services, like firewood and hot showers, for no additional charge. Provincial parks remain highly subsidized and, even with these increases, user fees still cover less than 70 per cent of the cost to operate the parks.
Total funding for the provincial parks system since 2007 is more than $200 million. This funding includes capital expenditures and investment, operational funding, and parks programming, such as the popular new programs Learn to Camp and Learn to Fish.