People flock to Golden Ears Provincial Park on long weekends.

People flock to Golden Ears Provincial Park on long weekends.

B.C.’s premier park packed full

Golden Ears in Maple Ridge often closes gates at some point, on long weekends

Last-minute plans to drop into Golden Ears Provincial Park this B.C. Day weekend, might not work out so well. The 400 camping spots are already full and the day-use picnic and boat launch area likely will be even busier.

Long weekends are usually so busy, the park on Maple Ridge’s northern border will have to close its gates to limit traffic as people stream to the picnic grounds and boat-launch area.

“We were planning that it will probably be necessary definitely Sunday and Monday, possibly Saturday,” said Stu Burgess with Alouette Park Management.

Smoky skies from the Interior wildfires may keep some people away, though he added. “It’s kind of hard to say.”

The park has almost 800 day-use parking stalls, which fill up by late morning, and two docks in Alouette Lake. Despite the crowds and heavy use, there are no plans to expand the docks where there’s a morning and evening rush hour as people rush to get their boats into and out of Alouette Lake.

“It’s extremely busy there. We’ve got room for 150 boat trailers … it’s just crazy.”

When it comes to the campgrounds, those too are full. Burgess said people lined up at midnight Thursday at the main gate hoping to get one of the 100 campsites that are available on a non-reservation basis, but Friday morning, he told them not to bother waiting.

The fire hazard in the park remains high, Burgess said, with campfires banned in the park, and throughout B.C., except for Haida Gwaii.

Metro Vancouver parks on Friday declared an extreme fire hazard rating. Under the extreme rating, campfires and briquette barbecues are prohibited in all regional parks. Propane barbecues and gas cook stoves are permitted in approved facilities, only under direct supervision, unless banned by fire officials.

Maple Ridge also has a complete ban on campfires while in Pitt Meadows, campfires are never allowed.

“We’ll continue on. Most people are very understanding,” Burgess said. In the last few weeks, two camping parties ignored the ban and lit a campfire.

The campfire soon was put out and the campers evicted from the park, without any refunds. So far, conservation officers or police haven’t had to be called, he added.

Other provincial parks may draw annually more visitors because of winter activities but Golden Ears is “definitely the busiest park in the summer,” Burgess said.

Stay out of the creeks and water falls and if you go into the back country, tell people your itinerary, he added.