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Parks Canada now taking summer camping reservations in January

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Dreaming of summer already?

Though it may feel a little premature, if you’re interested in camping in one of Canada’s national parks this summer, now is the time to start planning your trip.

According to Parks Canada officials, people are booking their campsites earlier each year, and this year, reservations can be made as soon as mid-January—that’s three months earlier than previous years.

Parks Canada’s official website says the change is meant to “make it easier to plan your experiences.”

“The campgrounds fill up really fast,” Patti Youngberg, an operations coordinator with Banff National Park, told CBC News. “If we open it earlier, people just have a better opportunity to get the dates that they want.” At least those aware of the changes do.

But not only are people booking sites sooner, the number of people trying to reserve sites has gone up as well. In 2015, Parks Canada saw a 27 percent year-over-year increase in campground reservations.

If it’s a very specific experience you’re interested in, such as staying in one of the park’s new oTENTik huts, which are a cross between a tent and a cabin, it’s especially important to take advantage of the advance booking option, says Youngberg.

Photography by BluePeak Travel Photography

Reservations for visits starting in April, and extending as far into the future as March 2017, will be made available on various dates throughout January, depending on the park.

Popular sites in Banff, such as Lake Louise, Tunnel Mountain, and Johnston Canyon can be reserved as of January 14. Banff consistently draws the most visitors of any of the country’s national parks, and that number continues to increase. From April 2015 to September 2015, the Rocky Mountain park received 2.56 million visitors, which is a seven percent increase over the year before.

If you’re on the other end of the country, or are interested in exploring Atlantic Canada, reservations will start slightly later; sites in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park and Terra Nova National Park can be booked starting on January 27.

For important dates regarding parks across the country, visit Parks Canada’s website.

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