Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls provincial parks both saw marked increases in park visitations in 2012-’13, according to recent province-wide figures released by B.C. Parks.
Shannon Falls park visitations increased by 106.8 per cent, from 190,151 to 393,322, during the 12 months that ended March 31, 2013 as compared to the previous 12 months, accoding to statistics released as part of the parks system’s annual report on Nov. 21. Stawamus Chief park saw 259,476 visits, an increase of 89 per cent over the 2011-’12 period.
Whiskers Point Provincial Park north of Prince George saw a 144.8 per cent hike — the largest percentage increase in B.C. — to just over 28,000 visits.
In a brief explanation of the increase, B.C. Parks officials said Stawamus Chief park visitation levels “returned to normal after a late snowmelt and cooler weather in 2011,” while the increase at Shannon Falls was attributed to the fact that the 2013-’13 figures included the number of bus passengers who visited.
Stawamus Chief park also saw a marked decrease in the number of camping visits, from 38,522 in 2011-’12 to just 9,130, a drop of more than 76 per cent. “Attendance returned to normal after an unusually high 2011,” officials said of the decrease.
Porteau Cove Provincial Park saw a 46.4 per cent increase in visitations, from 351,791 to 515,067, a hike that officials attributed to “better weather and improved data entry.” Camping at Porteau Cove stayed virtually the same, increasing by just 44 visits to 32,544, no doubt largely because the popular park’s campsites are normally booked solid.
Alice Lake Provincial Park saw a 19.3 per cent hike in attendance (293,716 to 350,420) and a 23 per cent increase in camping attendance (37,936 to 46,541), a hike that officials attributed to better weather and improved reporting practices.
Garibaldi park saw a 15.1 per cent increase in visitations (66,196 to 76,223) and a 21.1 per cent hike in the number of camping visitors (9,305 to 11,266) in 2012-’13.
Overall, the parks system saw 20.8 million visits in 2012-’13, 4.3 per cent higher than the 2011-’12 total. In March 2011, the B.C. government eliminated day-use fees charged at some Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island parks, but parks still saw a 1.9 per cent decrease in overall visitations after the change, a fact that was attributed to poor weather in 2011-’12.