Many tents have already been pitched in Golden Ears Provincial Park as campers staked out their little piece of paradise in advance of the park’s first busy long weekend.
The ticket booth at the park opened on Wednesday, and it has been busy as people take advantage of the Victoria Day long weekend to fire up their Coleman stoves and make s’mores.
“This is our first big weekend,” said Liz Hall, with park operator SSG Holdings.
In the past, campers would set up early at the first-come-first served sites on Thursdays, even Wednesdays, willing to pay the extra $30 per night to ensure they get a spot.
Hall expects Golden Ears will be even busier this year. The other wilderness playground in the Metro Vancouver-Fraser Valley region is Cultus Lake, and this year it will be allowing 100 per cent of its campsites to be reserved.
In Golden Ears, 40 per cent of the sites can be reserved up to three months in advance. The other 60 per cent are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
If Cultus is booked up, there will be more pressure on them.
The Maple Ridge park has 450 drive-in campsites in the three campground areas of Alouette, Gold Creek and North Beach. There are also walk-in camping, and two group sites.
Golden Ears, named for the twin peaks of Mt. Blanchard, attracts 610,000 visitors per year, which makes it the fourth most visited park in the provincial system. Many visitors come for the day-use areas, and to access a network of trails that covers more than 60 km.
The park covers 2,875 square kilometers, with natural beauty offered by the Coast Mountains, and the Mystic and Alouette lakes. It is the headwaters for the Stave, Alouette and Upper Pitt rivers.
There is work on a B.C. line underway. B.C. Hydro has begun site preparation to twin 250 km of its main electrical transmission line from the Nicola Valley to Coquitlam.
However, Hall said the work is far enough away that it should not disrupt the enjoyment of campers.