Camping, RVing a popular option as the summer of COVID-19 approaches

Camping, RVing a popular option as the summer of COVID-19 approaches

EDMONTON — Sandy Grunleitner and her family love camping, hiking and being in the outdoors.

She spent hours on the Alberta Parks website last week trying to rebook some camping reservations that had been cancelled after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“It took forever,” Grunleitner of Okotoks, Alta., said in an interview.

Alberta Parks reopened its campground reservations May 14, but at half capacity to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Nearly 40,000 campsite and 2,500 backcountry bookings were made the first day.

“The demand for camping in Alberta Parks is exceptionally high this summer due to limited capacity for physical distancing, national parks not accepting reservations at this time, and out-of-province travel discouraged by health officials,” Alberta Parks said on social media.

Grunleitner was able to book a few spots by selecting a campsite and picking random dates.

“It was totally possible to get sites, but you had to be really patient and keep trying.”

She nabbed hike-in spots for her and her four children — eight, 11, 12 and 14 — and two campgrounds where the whole family can set up a tent trailer.

“There will be a lot of space between trailers,” she said.

One of the campgrounds is on a reservoir with a sandy beach and Grunleitner wonders whether they will be allowed to go into the water and whether washrooms will be open at campsites.

No one from Alberta Parks responded to a request for an interview, but the website notes that washrooms and garbage pickup will be available by the time campgrounds are to open on June 1.

There are similar opening dates for parks across Western Canada. Some provincial governments are only allowing residents to reserve to prevent non-essential travel between provinces.

Parks Canada has said campgrounds in national parks will remain closed until at least June 21.

Governments reopening provincial parks earlier that month have said any communal facilities will have enhanced cleaning protocols. Shared cooking facilities will remain closed in Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. campgrounds.

Some campgrounds have also asked people to use their own washroom facilities in RVs as much as possible.

Concern about COVID-19 has led to a high demand for RVs this year — either for camping or as a way to travel across the country.

Earlier this spring, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid rented an RV and drove to Ontario with his girlfriend and dog.

“The purpose is just to avoid planes and airports and all of that,” he told a hockey podcast in early May. “I also just finished building a place in Edmonton, so I am trying to save a couple bucks.”

Others have decided to purchase their own RV.

Rob Minarchi, sales director of Arrkann Trailer and RV in Edmonton, said business was quiet last month, but website traffic increased by 100 per cent on April 30 — the day the province announced that campgrounds would reopen.

“It’s just been incredible,” he said. “People were just waiting for confirmation that they were able to use RVs this year. Once they had that, everything just spiked.”

Minarchi said some customers have said they had to cancel out-of-country travel plans. Others had been considering an RV and finally decided to buy one.

“Everybody is just craving something to do right now,” he said. “They want to get outdoors. They want to spend time with their immediate family if they can. They don’t want to sit at home anymore.”

Minarchi said people are buying RVs because there are more options available, including smaller units that can be towed more easily. It also poses fewer health concerns.

“People have told me they are little nervous to rent because they don’t know who had it before them.”

Arrkann offers a deep-cleaning service, which has been busy with people who rent out their RVs, Minarchi said. Solar panels and generators are popular purchases by people who want to be able to camp anywhere.

Grunleitner said her family has talked about buying an RV, but doesn’t plan on getting one this summer. It’s still being considered for road trips down south once they know when the U.S. border will open.

“If it’s not going to open in the fall, we’ll wait until next year.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2020

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

100 Women Who Care make a donation to Sylvan Lake Food Bank and Bethany Care Centre. Photo By Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
100 Women Who Care donate to four Sylvan Lake groups

The Food Bank, Bethany Sylvan Lake, Community Partners and the Library all received a donation

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read