Albertans looking for a way to be active and outdoors while adhering to public health measures have overwhelmingly turned to one activity during the pandemic — camping.
Numbers from the province show a massive jump in provincial park campsite reservations in recent months, going from 5,209 in September 2019 to 286,657 in September 2020.
That’s an increase of more than 5,400 per cent.
It was much the same the month before, with 21,881 reservations made in August 2019, compared to 274,423 in August this year.
July 2019 saw 34,008 reservations, which jumped to 236,432 in July 2020, in June it went from 32,632 in 2019 to 181,570 in 2020 and May saw numbers more than double year-over-year, going from 40,893 in 2019 to 90,012 this year.
The numbers mark when reservations were made, rather than when they were used.
“This year was absolutely bananas,” said Clay Geddert, a manager at Camper’s Village, a retail store in southeast Calgary.
New users, said Geddert, make up a majority of the customers they are seeing.
“It’s not necessarily our regular backcountry users going out more than normal,” he said.
“That may have been happening but in reality it was just so many new people. New pairs of hiking boots going out the door with people who have never had hiking boots, that was common to see.”