Albertans Fuming over Campsite Search
Alberta’s planned province-wide reservation system for RV parks and campgrounds can’t come too soon for thousands of Albertans who drive needlessly hundreds of miles to their favorite park each summer only to find the campground is full.
Alberta Tourism and Parks is working with Sustainable Resources to identify more campgrounds in the province's 45 recreational areas. Private operators run campgrounds in all but six of those regions.
Currently, reservations are available at only four of 16 vehicle-access campgrounds in the popular Kananaskis, Sibbald, Peter Lougheed and Bow Valley park regions. South and west of Calgary in the Elbow and Sheep river valleys and in Spray Lakes, it is possible to make reservations at just three of 16 campgrounds, according to a columnist in the Calgary Herald.
Alberta tourism spokeswoman Anne Douglas says a test program for an expanded reservations system beginning next year will improve the situation.
"We needed to catch up," Douglas said. "We hear from people when things aren't convenient for them."
But it won't happen overnight. Douglas said most campgrounds do not have Internet access. Phone lines to remote sites are often jammed with callers.
Some campers won't like a full reservations system, arguing that a certain percentage of sites should remain for last-minute campers. But, with today's growing environmental ethic, people's habits must change.
As fuel costs continue to rise, it's only a matter of time before it becomes socially unacceptable to go on an Easter egg hunt for a campsite towing a monster fifth-wheel.
This is no knock on Albertans, who have a love affair with RVs. Contrary to their image as irresponsible gas hogs, RVers know how to conserve resources like bread in a famine. People who use primitive campsites, for instance, get by on a third of the water they would have used at home. RVers also know how to preserve battery life and become keenly aware of energy consumption, with many choosing solar panels over generators.
Despite escalating fuel prices, RVers are not going away. It's simple economics. With recreational property topping $1 million, it's still cheaper to head out of town with a camper or motorhome than to buy lakefront property.
Demographics, too, will keep RVs on the road. And it's not just wealthy Baby Boomers who are doing it. Young families also want the outdoor recreational experience, says Douglas, as do thousands of newcomers who want to discover Alberta.
"There are more people in the province. Not only has there been a population increase, but demographics have also changed. There are more young families who want to have that experience and new Albertans want to explore the province," she said.
With high fuel prices forcing people to stay closer to home, the demand on Alberta campgrounds is only going to get worse.