The opening date for Parks Canada campground reservations for 2016 have been brought from April to mid-January. The online release of campsites was staggered, with the first parks (including Jasper National Park) opening at 8am on January 13. The Parks Canada campground reservation website is: https://reservation.pc.gc.ca/ParksCanada. Payment is made through a government portal which requires setting up a user account.
When we logged in at 8am to secure sites in Jasper for the summer, the system was up and running, but within a minute or so, the booking engine went offline. It was back online by 9am and we were easily able to make reservations for our favourite campsites in our favourite Jasper campgrounds (Wabasso Campground, along the river).
For its scenic location and proximity to the town of Banff, Two Jack Lake Campground is the most popular campground in the park. Before the online reservation system was in place, there was a lineup of vehicles every summer morning waiting for a campsite to become available. With demand sure to be high, we logged onto https://reservation.pc.gc.ca/ParksCanada at exactly 8am on January 14, when reservations for campgrounds in Banff National Park opened. Sites along the lakeshore were snapped up within minutes and by 8:15am almost every site in the campground was taken for every weekend June through September.
Here is a screen grab from Two Jack Lake Campground map for a weekend in August minutes after reservations opened. As you can see, SOLD OUT.
Waterton Lakes National Park campground reservations opened today, January 15. Demand for the park’s Townsite Campground is always high, and it seems that some but not all weekends have filled by lunchtime. Unlike most other Parks Canada campgrounds, the Townsite Campground is more functional than scenic; sites facing the lake have the best views, but often take the full brunt of the wind.