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8/01/2018 8:28 am  #1

Campsite Booking

Has there ever been any talk or discussion of Algonquin moving to booking individual sites instead of just booking lakes?

It seems the other backcountry provincial parks have gone this way (Massassauga and Kawartha Highlands) and I'm curious about Algonquin.

I can see pros and cons to this. The con is obviously a loss of mystery and spontaneity. This loss is pretty significant to me. But, I can also see how this would allow for improved accountability. A friend saw a group of 16 campers (all on one site!) cutting down live trees on a site on Pen earlier this summer. She didn't approach them cuz there were 16 of them and 1 of her but she was desperately hoping for a ranger to come by.

If sites were booked specifically, would the park be able to identify and fine individuals for this type of behaviour or is that just a pipe dream of mine? Even if they COULD do it? Would they have the resources to pursue?


8/01/2018 12:24 pm  #2

Re: Campsite Booking

Personally speaking I would hate if they moved to a specific site booking model. We'd get into the same nonsense as everywhere else where people are forced to make bookings months in advance in order to get their preferred site. 

Plus I don't think it's feasible anyway in Algonquin - it's just too large. The current system is designed with the expectation that people won't necessarily be where they're supposed to be, and there are valid reasons for that. Wind and weather can make it impossible (well, for you sorry canoeists anyway ;) to be where you're supposed to be. And so a lake may have 40 campsites, but a max of 33 reservations are allowed for any given night to support that. Force people to choose specific sites on specific lakes, and a few groups getting windbound could create a cascade effect that would mess up a lot of campers. 

Last edited by Uppa (8/01/2018 12:25 pm)


8/01/2018 1:30 pm  #3

Re: Campsite Booking

I agree on all your points Uppa.

I just wish there was a better way to hold people accountable. Even if they DID move to a site specific booking, I don't know that they'd have the resources to pursue fining bad behaviour.

     Thread Starter

8/01/2018 1:40 pm  #4

Re: Campsite Booking

CanoeClaire wrote:

I agree on all your points Uppa.

I just wish there was a better way to hold people accountable. Even if they DID move to a site specific booking, I don't know that they'd have the resources to pursue fining bad behaviour.

They should put solar powered tablets at every site and when you get there you check in with your specific permit number. That way you don’t have to book a specific site, but everyone is held accountable.

(not actually serious)

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8/01/2018 8:21 pm  #5

Re: Campsite Booking

All they would have to do is extend cell phone service throughout the park. Most people would bring their phones. Then they'll be able to pinpoint people's phones and associate those phones with accounts. I'm sure something like this will happen in the future but I hope I'll be long dead by then.


8/08/2018 2:05 pm  #6

Re: Campsite Booking

I can go either way on this one ... but I have heard some people that have done backcountry before say that they don't do it as often because they can't book a specific site. Right or wrong people these days expect more from information and you can see that from the pictures they have added on the Ontario parks campground pages.  Even backcountry campsites (non Algonquin) have pictures and can be individually booked .. see Jo Perry lake in bon echo). 

To me it's a place to put your head down at night ... as long as it has a fire pit to cook in and a patch to pitch the tent then I'm good ...


8/08/2018 2:19 pm  #7

Re: Campsite Booking

With Algonquin being so large, it's unlikely the operation would change from a lake / region booking system to a campsite-specific system.

Personally, I like it the way it is. You win some, you loose some. It's nice to have a little mystery on a trip - sure its also nice to have a target site in mind and to aim for - but at the end of the day you'll get what you get.


8/09/2018 2:09 pm  #8

Re: Campsite Booking

I’ve spent time paddling around a lake looking for the last site more than once when the lake was supposedly half booked. I usually like to wake early and paddle late with a rest in the middle so I’ve been frustrated to find squatters more than once. Im well prepared and happy to sleep on a portage if necessary but I can definitely see the benefit of booking sites directly. In my younger days I wouldn’t have cared as if just keep paddling until I found a spot. Now with 2 kids along for the trip I can’t just keep going as they will mutiny. Also with 2 kids I can’t get as far from the car as I used to in a day which means it’s always more busy.


8/10/2018 6:09 pm  #9

Re: Campsite Booking

Big problem with squatters. No way the lakes are over booked as many times as I have been burned. Not sure dedicated sites are the solution, but at least you could definataivly say some one was squatting. Have come in more than once with two sites or more on a given lake, only to get the last site at the wrong end of the lake. Called to complain, they basically said they can’t do anything. They need more rangers random checking particularly a portage in.   I think farther back not so big a problem. Also on the lakes they can reach by power boat not as much squatting. Too easy to get caught. A park employee went through twice the last time I stayed on rock.  None on pen this time.


6/07/2019 10:47 am  #10

Re: Campsite Booking

Personally, I prefer to camp and book on small lakes with one to three sites.  It's disheartening after 7 hrs of travel to then have to spend another hour circumnavigating a big lake trying to find a site - any site that isn't taken by people who got there an hour before you.

*checks newest trip plan...* dammit!

Last edited by solo_lesta (6/07/2019 10:48 am)


6/10/2019 7:53 pm  #11

Re: Campsite Booking

Yeah I'm stuck on this one.  Most of my camping is done with the whole family.  This makes it pretty important not to get stuck in the only non-swimming swamp site that is an extra km of paddling.  To hedge my odds I usually try to make sure we start mid-week and we also don't move around too much - set up a base camp and travel from there. Being able to reserve a site would be a big help and also would make more distant lakes more of a first day option.  However, I really think things are regimented enough and not sure the added effort on booking and enforcement would pay off.  I'll agree with Peek - you win some you lose some.  I guess when I really get burnt and sleep by the swamp  that is when I'll start complaining 


6/11/2019 5:49 am  #12

Re: Campsite Booking

I'd rather find squatters on my lake than my specific site - because squatters will squat unless the park does something about it.

I suppose it would be possible to designate sites on lakes adjacent to AP's as individually "reservable." Making all of the reservations site-specific (besides being a huge undertaking) I think might increase the chances of people making some bad decisions about reaching their destination. I already wish there was some "camping under duress" flag one could display when conditions warrant staying on the wrong lake.


6/11/2019 10:26 am  #13

Re: Campsite Booking

'Camping under duress' flag. Mmm.
Personally, not sure I'd want to fly a flag advertising to everyone on the lake that I failed as a camper. Ha. 
Luckily I have yet to run into an issue with a fully booked lake. As GordK mentions, we usually try to head in on say a Thursday which allows for many more site options.


9/12/2023 8:14 pm  #14

Re: Campsite Booking

I would hate to see a place like Algonquin move to specific site booking. If anything a hybrid of a north/south or east/west booking to make it a bit easier to find sites may be a good compromise. I’m was in the massassauga on the long weekend- myself and two kids. I had a different campsite booked each night. Friday great. Saturday strong winds prevented us from getting to our second site leaving us with no where to go. I suspect some didn’t even make it in, but with no designated emergency sites and checking the reservation system and not finding a closer empty site, waiting it out til 4pm in hopes the wind would die down- we sadly had to forfeit a night of camping fees and abandon trip. I asked at the park office for a car camping vacancy at any PP within an hour drive to house us for the night- none existed. It made no sense to stealth sleep in the car for the night to resume our booking for the Sunday night. It was a really unfortunate setup… and highlights the downfall of by the site booking system.


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