Easter Was Busy at National Park But Weekdays Aren’t Bad Yet

Weekdays in April offer a crowd-free opportunity for locals to visit Bruce Peninsula National Park (most people will have to pay to get in). This picture was taken around 11:00AM on April 7. The “Reservations Only” system will kick in as soon as the lockdown is lifted.
By John Francis

The “P1” Parking lot at Bruce Peninsula National Park — aka Head of Trails — provides access to the Grotto and Indian Head Cove. It was at close to capacity on all three days of Easter Weekend. Other Parks access points were not monitored (but were probably busy too).

There tend to be far fewer visitors on weekdays, especially in the mornings. On the picture-perfect morning of April 7, there were only three small groups at the cove. Despite the travel ban, car-dealer markings on the vehicles in the parking lot suggested most were not local residents.

Bruce Peninsula Press asked Parks Canada what the access rules would be for local residents during the lockdown.

Their response: “Bruce Peninsula National Park is following the pandemic restrictions that are in place for the Northern Bruce Peninsula region, and the Province of Ontario. Camping is not currently permitted under COVID-19 restrictions, and Parks Canada is urging visitors to follow the Province of Ontario emergency declaration and province-wide stay-at-home order to limit non-essential travel and visit outdoor spaces only in their home community. People should not travel outside their region or the province unless absolutely necessary. Local community members undertaking outdoor exercise or walking pets at the Grotto can register / pay using our window service or self-serve options.”

There are news stories about bots tying up camping reservations at Provincial Parks. We asked what protocols does Parks Canada have in place to prevent this from happening at BPNP campgrounds and Head of Trails parking spaces? 

Their response: “When members of the public book with Parks Canada’s reservation system, the person making the reservation must state the name of the person who will be using the reservation at the park. (Meaning you can book for someone else, but you must say who that someone else is.) At Bruce Peninsula National Park, the person registered as the user of a campsite or a reserved parking space must show the booking confirmation information as well as photo ID to then gain entry. So while Parks Canada does not require all members of a group to be pre-registered, the person registered as the holder of the reservation must be present and show identification. This process means that entry bookings cannot be scooped up by companies, resold or given away to others. If someone books a reservation that they are unable to make, there is a process where they can cancel their reservation, which frees up that time on the Parks Canada reservation system for someone else.”

Parking Reservations Open Apr 29

“Reservations for front and backcountry camping in Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park will open on April 19, at 8 a.m.

Reservations for parking at Halfway Log Dump and the Grotto will open on April 29th at 8 a.m.

The public will not be able to book dates that fall within the Ontario stay-at-home order period.

As with past years, we expect there will be strong demand for reservations.”