This is an interview with Alenna Langhorst, Brand and Communications Specialist, Camping and RV BC Coalition, about CAMPING & RV in BC.
How does your website benefit RVers and campers in Alberta and BC?
Campers can start planning their trip from our site, as it lists and plots all four campground brands on one Google map including: Parks Canada, Private Campgrounds (members of BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association), BC Parks and Recreation Sites. Another handy tool is our photo gallery which displays campgrounds from all six regions giving the camper a taste of what our province has to offer in terms of camping. As well, our How To section provides campers with tips and reminders with topics ranging from how to camp with your dog to how to rent a Recreational Vehicle (RV). To sum up the Camping & RV BC website is a benefit to RVers and campers because it offers one-stop planning.
With respect to percentage, how many Albertans go RVing in BC and where do the majority of Albertans like to camp in BC? What is the most popular area or campground in BC?
We don’t currently have a system in place to measure the amount of Alberta RVers in our province. However, when we attend the Alberta consumer shows combined with our website traffic consequently it is a high percentage. Generally, the popular campgrounds in BC are waterfront or destinations close to major tourist towns. I think Albertans like to camp in most regions in BC. The wide range of diversity in the province is one of its unique characteristics. A treasure of abundant hot springs found in the Kootenay Rockies, lakes with white sandy beaches in the interior and a rugged shoreline on the west coast, is a mecca for camping and RVing.
In recent years more so than in previous years, are you seeing an increase in RVing and camping trends, therefore an increased use of campgrounds in BC?
Camping is very weather dependent and a warm sunny summer attracts an increase in demand of 10% over the ten year average. Likewise a wet summer creates a dip in demand of 10% below the ten year average. Fuel prices also influence travel decisions in that higher per litre costs tend to cause campers to stay closer to home often within a two hour drive. The recessionary times since 2008 have also led to a small increase in demand for camping and RVing as families look for cheaper vacations closer to home. Growth has also been seen on the international rental scene with discount fares from Europe providing stronger spring and fall business.
Are the campgrounds in BC usually booked early in the season?
We recommend booking campgrounds far in advance to ensure that when you arrive there is a campsite available. Usually the long weekends are the busiest times, so we strongly suggest booking well ahead. To find out the long weekends in British Columbia, visit our Frequently Asked Questions section. The further north you travel the likelihood of needing reservations diminishes. For reservations, the provincial parks online reservation service is at BC Parks Discover Camping Reservation Service and Parks Canada is at Parks Canada Reservation Service. Private campgrounds need to be contacted directly. The campground reservation links are also found on the CRVBCC Where To Camp page.
When is the best time to book a campground site in BC?
All the time is the best time. On a serious note, generally during the week, Tuesday to Thursday, campgrounds are quieter. Also camping in the Spring or Fall can be the most beautiful and quietest time. The BC Park’s discovercamping.ca reservation service is open three months before the season starts and has a rolling forward opening. Private campgrounds can take reservations up to 18 months in advance. Parks Canada reservation system is open from May to September.
What other options do people have if the campgrounds are full in BC?
Generally if the popular campgrounds are full, then travelling a little further off the beaten track you can find hidden campground gems with availability. For instance, if a lakeside campground is full, look for campgrounds a little further away or on another lake. Recreation Sites and Trails campgrounds usually located off the main roads on forestry secondary roads are not over utilized, but these campgrounds offer no services and fill up on a first come first serve basis. (Take note, if you have a motorhome and plan to camp at a Recreation Site be sure to check that the recreation campground is RV accessible by visiting the CRVBCC Where To Camp page).
How are you collaborating with Parks Canada to bring more awareness and information to RVers and campers from Alberta, BC, and Canadians from other provinces, as well as international visitors?
The Camping and RVing BC Coalition works with Parks Canada in a variety of ways. I guess the most visible is updating and displaying their Parks Canada data on our Google Where To Camp map. The Coalition also sends mainstream media to Parks Canada annually to write stories of interest. Each year the Coalition assists Parks Canada with the Learn To Camp Program for new immigrants in British Columbia.
Judging from the amount of inquiries you receive about subject matter on your website, do you see an increase in the RV lifestyle for future travelers, especially with the boomer generation soon retiring in huge numbers wanting to travel in the most economical way?
Currently approximately 14% of Canadians own a recreational vehicle. Many boomers will continue to or start to enjoy camping; some will inherit vehicles, while others will seek out second hand or new purchases. The average RV owner according to GoRVing Canada is married, has a household income of $75,000 and comes from a small rural community. Our prediction is a modest increase in those camping since we also have attrition.
How is a website like CAMPING & RV IN BC a valuable resource for RVers and campers who search for information and guidance before or during travel in BC?
The Where To Camp camping section is the most visited page on our website. It displays all the supervised campgrounds in the province, including BC Parks, Private Campgrounds (members of BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association), Recreations Sites and Parks Canada. In addition, it plots the stocked fishing lakes and trailheads in the province. So basically, you are able to pick campgrounds that are nearby stocked fishing lakes and/or trails.
What are the most popular questions people ask?
The top questions we are asked at consumer RV shows and from the website are:
- Can I have a campfire?
- Do campgrounds allow pets?
- What are the RV towing restrictions in British Columbia?
- How much is it to travel on the BC Ferries?
- Do I need to make reservations?
- What is the start date for BC Parks reservation system?
The answers to the above questions can be found on the CRVBCC FAQ page.
What are the top 5 aspects of traveling in BC that all RVers and campers should be aware of?
- Plan ahead check the weather, road conditions and reserve your campsites in advance.
- Check out the BC towing restrictions before you travel.
- Take your time to travel, and obey the speed limits. BC has a lot of windy roads.
- It is illegal to drive and talk on a mobile phone throughout the province.
- Smiling and having a good time is mandatory when travelling in BC
What are the top trends you are witnessing from RVers and campers visiting your website?
There is a definite interest in tent camping and fishing. Most people know where they are going and are using the Google map to locate potential campgrounds. Others are mapping their routes using the trip planner tool.
With the increase of RVers populating campgrounds in the future, does BC have any plans to increase the number of campgrounds in the province?
At this time, there are no plans to increase the number of campgrounds but we are working to encourage campers to camp longer, more frequently and in the shoulder season, spring and fall (the season is longer than just July and August).
What kind of feedback do you get from people who have accessed your website and then visited the BC campgrounds mentioned on your site?
Generally most people who have used the Where To Camp Google map continue to use this tool as a major planning resource.
How valuable and important is it for RVers and campers to do their research ahead of time?
It is important that research is done ahead of time to ensure that you can secure a campsite in your chosen destination but that it also accommodates your needs, such as campsite size, hook-ups, amenities, activities etc.
Suggested Camping Maintenance Schedule Chart:
For lists of what to check click here.