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Time to start planning for summer camping

It seems early with snow still around but some reservations can be made this month

Whether you use a tent or a yurt, now is the time to plan for summer camping.

Snow may still be on the ground, and camping may be far from your mind, but it’s almost time to make plans — especially if you want to make reservations for provincial cabins, yurts or group-use areas. Reservations for these spots open Monday, March 19 at 7 a.m., and the cabins and yurts fill up quickly for weekend campers. One campground — Birds Hill Provincial Park — opens the same day, and it also fills up quickly for weekends, particularly if you want a site with electricity and water.

Reservations for Winnipeg Beach and all campgrounds in Whiteshell Provincial Park open Monday, April 2 (Easter Monday) at 7 a.m. For all remaining provincial parks, the opening date is Wednesday, April 4 at 7 a.m. Use the Parks Reservation System for online reservations, or phone 204-948-3333 in Winnipeg or 1-888-482-2267 toll free. For additional online camping information go to the Parks and Protected Spaces page on the Manitoba Government website.

At Riding Mountain National Park, reservations have been open since the middle of January, so full-service sites may be mostly booked on busier weekends, but you could still check out its website. Campgrounds open by May 11, although at Wasagaming a few of the oTENTiks have been open all year, so if you can’t wait until May, try one of them.

Before you make any reservations, do some planning. Do you have one particular park or campground where you always go? Why not be a little more adventurous and try a different place this year — maybe a provincial or private campground in the Hecla Island, Gimli, Steep Rock, or Arborg area.

The internet is a good place to begin your planning. Check out this map of Manitoba campgrounds website to get an idea of campsites available in Manitoba. You may be surprised by the number shown, and not even all of the smaller towns are included there.

Another information source is the Manitoba Accommodations Guide, available from Travel Manitoba. It includes camping information and will be mailed out on request. Visit the website or phone 1-800-665-0040.

Do you want a campground with fishing nearby? Try Rivers Provincial Park, Lake Audy, Asessippi Provincial Park or Duck Mountain Provincial Park. Is a beach with good swimming facilities important? Perhaps Minnedosa Beach, Grand Beach or St. Malo Provincial Park would be your choice. If you want a beach and a golf course, try Lake Minnewasta at Morden or the campgrounds at Oak Lake or Hecla. If you would like to camp near Winnipeg so you can explore the city, Birds Hill Park is fairly close, as well as a couple of commercial campgrounds, while history buffs might choose the Selkirk campground and plan a visit to Lower Fort Garry.

Maybe you’d like a northern camping experience at a provincial park at Paint Lake near Thompson, Clearwater Lake near the Pas or Bakers Narrows near Flin Flon, to name a few. All have excellent scenery.

If you decide to use a provincial park, remember to purchase a 2018 Manitoba Parks pass ($40), beforehand or at the campground when you check in. Wherever you decide to go, happy planning. Sometimes that’s half the fun — but don’t wait too long!

Yurts are a great way to spend some time in the great outdoors. photo: Donna Gamache

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