Camping season approaches in N.W.T., with reservation system opening Tuesday

Most campgrounds in the Northwest Territories open on May 15. The reservation system for sites opens Tuesday. (Jenna Dulewich/CBC News)

Mark your calendars, N.W.T. campers.

You can start booking your favourite sites this week, as the camping reservation system opens Tuesday at 9 a.m. MT. Most territorial campgrounds will open sometime between May 15 and June 1.

Campers will notice some changes this season, as NWT Parks launched a new online booking system for campsite reservations, along with a brand new campground in the North Slave, near Behchokǫ.

“You are right on the North Arm, right on the Great Slave Lake, so obviously the view is going to be spectacular and you get that quiet, pristine area,” said Stephanie McCabe, about the new campground at North Arm Territorial Park. McCabe is the director of tourism and parks with the territorial government.

The new campground is located off Highway 3, near the access road to Behchokǫ̀. It includes 15 powered sites, along with washroom facilities, a kitchen shelter and boat launch. 

The North Arm Territorial Park day-use area. A new campground opens in the park this year. (GNWT ITI)

People who have reserved campsites online before will have to create a new account on the new booking site, said McCabe. 

She also encourages campers to familiarize themselves with the system as there is only one booking launch date for all campgrounds this year. In previous years, campground bookings had staggered dates.

“It’s a very awesome new system, lots of new features, lots of different ways to see availability,” McCabe said.

Another difference campers will notice is that one campground will be closed all season. The Escarpment Creek campground near Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park saw extensive wildfire damage last year.

During the 2023 wildfire season, more than 4.1 million hectares of land burned across the N.W.T. McCabe said NWT Parks was fortunate in that only one campground experienced extensive damage.

More than 65 per cent of residents in the territory fled their homes last year due to wildfires, with many residents displaced for three weeks.

The evacuations and danger of the wildfires caused the camping season to shut down six weeks early in 2023, McCabe said. She said NWT Parks is hopeful for a “normal season” this year.

“I understand we’re going to have a little bit of a drier year, but I mean, visitation is still welcome [and] individuals just have to be aware … we’re still pristine and beautiful and our parks are ready to go.”

Jenna Dulewich

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Kwanlin Dün First Nation buys tourism business near Whitehorse for $3.5M, CBC News

Iceland: Iceland moving ahead on better ways to manage tourism & safeguard protected areas, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Stricter rules apply to tourists heading to Svalbard, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Reindeer herding affected by increased tourism in Swedish mountains, Radio Sweden

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