Starting June 1st, backcountry camping and day-use were allowed once again at Algonquin Park and they quickly saw a large influx of reservations.

“We have seen a higher number of reservations since the announcement on Saturday relative to average earlier in April and May 2020,” Spokesperson for Ontario Parks Connor Oke tells the newsroom. “The period after the announcement also saw a higher number of reservations relative to the same period in 2019.”

With the higher-than-normal volume of reservations, he says they are prepared to manage backcountry campers. “Backcountry camping is a low-risk activity, and typically campers are in small groups, fully equipped with supplies, and do not normally require the use of any facilities, such as washrooms, showers or other roofed accommodations,” Oke says. The park has put in restrictions to ensure that anyone that does book a spot is following proper guidelines. No more than five people can occupy a backcountry campsite unless they live in the same household. For day-use, you must stay at least six feet away from other users and bring your own supplies.

“The health and well-being of visitors and staff will always be our number one consideration as we decide how and when to open parks and services,” Oke adds in the park’s statement. “That’s why, over the next several weeks, we will gradually increase the recreational opportunities we offer at Ontario Parks, including campground camping, but only when it is safe to do so. We will be continually assessing our approach and may need to make adjustments to services depending on ongoing public health advice.”

While backcountry camping and most day-use activities are re-opened, Oke says they have extended the closure of all other overnight camping and day-use activities have been extended until June 14th. “All buildings and facilities including campgrounds, roofed accommodations, visitor centres, park stores, playgrounds, and beaches remain closed,” Oke says. “Some washroom facilities may be available.”

He adds that the Ministry staff will be doing checks at all provincial parks to make sure health measures are being followed by staff and visitors. “To ensure the safety of visitors and park staff, Ontario Parks has been conducting critical maintenance and other start-up procedures and ensuring operational and safety protocols are in place so that more recreational activities and facilities can open when it is safe to do so,” Oke says.

Written by Mathew Reisler