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zeljkok 03-29-2020 12:58 AM

COVID-19 in Canadian Rockies
 
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This thread is for anything related to outdoor activities in Canadian Rockies during the corona virus pandemic. Not just National Parks, i.e. Banff, but also provincial areas like Kananaskis etc. As of March 28, date of initial post, here is chronology of events:


  • March 19: Town of Banff has declared a State of Local Emergency to support the Province of Alberta’s efforts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • March 25: Town of Canmore follows Banff & declares state of local emergency. Decision was made due to considerate flock of out of town visitors during previous weekend. Road signs on Hwy 1 exits asking visitors to stay away are erected. Town actively starts monitoring busy parking lots (Lady Mac, Grassi Lakes, Quary Lake, etc) & will close them as well if necessary. Full details here
  • March 25: Parks Canada has suspended visitor motor vehicle access to all National Parks, incl. Banff, Jasper, Yoho. Through traffic is still permitted (Hwy 1, Hwy 93, Icefields Parkway), but stopping is not. Number of secondary roads (Minnewanka, Bow Valley Parkway etc) are closed. Parking lots are red-taped and closed. Full details here. Note that hiking or cycling is still allowed, but back-country camping not.
  • Province of Alberta suspends motor vehicle access to Provincial Park areas. Driving on roads like Spray Road or Kananaskis Trail is still allowed, but park areas are closed. Hiking and cycling is still allowed. Back-country camping is also not allowed. Full article here
I live just outside BNP and will be able to provide firsthand updates as this develops. I.e there is fresh sign erected today near Quarry Lake saying "Park areas closed to Vehicle Access"; note that Canmore Nordic Center is Alberta Provincial Park. Spray road is open, but Goat creek parking is closed.


This situation is way more serious than some might think. It is really important to follow public guidelines for everyone sake; mountains will still be here once this is over.


Attachment 274214

Mariner9 03-29-2020 01:54 PM

"note that hiking or cycling is still allowed"

How do you hike or cycle if you aren't allowed to stop or park?

My impression from the website was that Parks Canada don't want anyone accessing the backcountry just now.

zeljkok 03-29-2020 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mariner9 (Post 850312)
"note that hiking or cycling is still allowed"

How do you hike or cycle if you aren't allowed to stop or park?

My impression from the website was that Parks Canada don't want anyone accessing the backcountry just now.


Same as in Seymour or Cypress provincial parks on North Shore, or in AB provincial parks. They all follow same suite. You can't drive but trails (some) are still open. Difference is that Rockies are not accessible without cars, so prohibiting non-transit vehicle traffic effectively shuts everything down. But there are still people living inside parks, for instance Banff or Louise or Jasper & they can hike local trails that are not closed.



You are right that Parks don't want anyone accessing the back-country. But all trails are not yet officially closed as driving (or camping) is.

solo75 03-29-2020 02:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zeljkok (Post 850316)
You are right that Parks don't want anyone accessing the back-country. But all trails are not yet officially closed as driving (or camping) is.

That's the way I read the information. No camping or parking in provincial parks including backcountry camping although it appears okay to hike the trails.
But Parks Canada for Banff mentions no vehicle access?

zeljkok 03-29-2020 03:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by solo75 (Post 850320)
That's the way I read the information. No camping or parking in provincial parks including backcountry camping although it appears okay to hike the trails.
But Parks Canada for Banff mentions no vehicle access?


Yes. Goal was to basically shut down weekend hordes coming out from Calgary and disregarding social distancing rules. But closing trails for local people that live in the park would be full lockdown and this is the key.

Re Banff vehicle access: There is number of people living in Banff that daily commute for work or else within Bow Valley, or even to Calgary. Off two exits from Hwy 1, Mt. Norquay is closed, but main exit from Minnewanka road is open. I don't know how are rules enforced, i.e if they find non-resident parked somewhere on side street. I will post here when I find out.

zeljkok 03-29-2020 10:33 PM

2 Attachment(s)
March 29: These 2 photos were lifted from Bow Valley Network social media group:


Attachment 274280
[Gate at Nordic Center prohibiting vehicle traffic. One could still get in on foot, or on skis via network of hiking trails though]


Attachment 274282
[Guardian at Spray Road gate, that is obviously closed; this is likely going to be the norm during the weekends at least in near future. According to Alberta Parks, traffic is not forbidden but as there is nothing --- except Mt. Engadine Lodge -- from here to Kananaskis Lakes I guess they decided to cut it off right here]

ColdBrook 03-29-2020 11:30 PM

Thanks for the info, discussion, and photos.

A quick comparative note: things are much the same in USA. Land managers have reported "summer-like" hordes on scenic highways, beaches (even northern ones), and at trailheads, and higher than normal numbers on ski slopes.

Quote:

Goal was to basically shut down weekend hordes coming out from Calgary and disregarding social distancing rules.

zeljkok 03-30-2020 01:53 AM

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Bit more update on what's going on. Even if not mandated, I try to stay indoors as much as possible during this crisis (don't have to tell you how difficult it is sitting inside for outdoors person). But after seeing these photos from above I quickly dressed up & hiked to Nordic Center (~30min on foot from where I live). Access was gated. Here is info table:


Attachment 274284


Note the wording: Indoor facilities are closed, but trails remain open to the public. This is inline with BC Parks and with National Parks.


Then, walking down the road by Rundle Forebay I ran into AB Parks truck, with flashing light. Same one as on pic above; just moved lower down. Had 15min chat with very nice lady (on proper social distance of course). Learned quite a few things firsthand.



1) Spray Road was closed because of avalanche. (This was the part that confused me earlier, because traffic without stopping was supposed to be open)


2) Hiking is allowed in AB Provincial Parks, as long as you are able to get yourself to trailhead without car. Bicycles are fine


3) Social distancing: Lady told me about 3 different models she saw. First: Do nothing at all, Second: Social distancing Three: Full lockdown. According to models, social distancing after awhile does work and curve flattens down!


4) Despite everything, there is still lots of COVIDIOTS around. Just today she had to rescue hikers that got lost on Mt. Yamnuska (!!!!! How do you get lost on Yamnuska? For you BC guys, this is same as someone getting lost on Grind or Dog mountain). They dodged parking restriction by leaving car on the shoulder in crown land. PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T DO THAT. This just drains park resources that are working ultra hard in these difficult times


5) Couple of weekends ago, when parks closed facilities, but driving was allowed, there was horror on parking lots. Restrooms were closed, so idiots peed, shitted, left sanitary pads and who knows what else around the bathrooms, creating hygienic disaster. That in addition to all the social distancing which nobody obeyed. This was the main factor that prompted AB parks to shut down vehicle access.
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Finally I want to say again: This pandemic is not a joke. We are all in this together, please please obey the rules and stay away. This planet belongs to all of us and we need to care for it and for each other together.

lobo 03-30-2020 09:35 AM

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Much the same in Jasper. Maligne Lake Road and 93 closed for avalanche work. Iím in the position where I live in Hinton but work in Jasper and my job is an essential service, so I drive back and forth most days. I still see some vehicles at trail heads like the photo, pic taken on Saturday, not my photo. I was on that road on Friday and it was packed with pipeline workers. I donít have an issue with people using the trails as long as they keep their distance, which is quite an easy thing to do. Iíve hiked solo and kept my distance from most people my entire life. I went snowshoeing near Cadomin a few days ago, never saw a soul.

zeljkok 03-30-2020 03:30 PM

Great to see update from JNP lobo! Couple of questions:


1) As you commute from Hinton, are you stopped at the gate or later & asked for some sort of proof for non-visitor vehicle access?
2) Assuming Maligne Road is closed only because of avalanche, what is the reason for keeping it open (not gated)? Past Jasper lodge turnoff, there is nothing essential on that road

lobo 03-30-2020 04:25 PM

No one at the gates, yet. That could change. I have no proof other than my staff ID but I could get it if necessary. There are quite a few people that live in Hinton and work in Jasper and there are a few that live in Jasper and work in Hinton. The Maligne road is closed for avalanche work, which is normal for this time of year and I donít think that theyíll keep it closed unless the rules from the government change. The townies are so excited because they think that they have the entire park to themselves as it was stated that locals are allowed access to trailheads but tourists arenít. I canít see that lasting too long though. There are not many wardens left in Jasper so itís difficult to see how they will enforce any of these rules unless they start giving hefty fines. That might deter some people. As for me personally, I donít do a lot of winter stuff but come May I plan on hiking lots. There are plenty of places in the eastern slopes where I can hike and bike. Of course, everything could change by May, so who knows. I carry bear spray, so if any covidiot gets within six feet of me he might get a face full of bear spray. Lol. Iíll keep people posted as to conditions in Jasper and area as this pandemic continues.

zeljkok 03-30-2020 04:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lobo (Post 850340)
I carry bear spray, so if any covidiot gets within six feet of me he might get a face full of bear spray. Lol. Iíll keep people posted as to conditions in Jasper and area as this pandemic continues.


LOL. Might get me to finally start carrying bear spray too. Although all outdoor stores around here are now closed.


"Locals allowed access to trailheads". But that does not include vehicle access? It would be quite a contradiction to Parks Policy & open tons of loopholes. Otherwise, it is pretty much limited to bicycles. I guess one could still cycle to Maligne Lake or Geraldine, or .. but further down the Icefields I don't know

lobo 03-30-2020 05:36 PM

Well, you can see from the picture I posted that people are still driving to trailheads. Until they start imposing fines for parking at trailheads, it will continue. Residents have a different colour pass than tourists, so itís easy to see who is parked at the trailheads. Like I said, Iím fine with people going out hiking if they adhere to the distancing rules, and if they donít, well thatís where the bear spray will come in for me. I drove down to near Cadomin last evening, purely for wildlife photography, no hiking intended and I have to say that Iíve never seen so many vehicles on that road before, not even on busy summer days. Nobody was parked anywhere, just driving. People donít like to be locked up and this is going to continue, unless they bring in the army or something drastic like that.

zeljkok 03-30-2020 05:57 PM

ok, thanks. Was not aware residents had different color passes. Will try to find out if that is the case in Banff too, probably yes.



One big difference between Banff and Jasper is proximity of major metro-center, Edmonton vs Calgary. In addition Calgary has much more infections than Edmonton. Canmore/Banff are brutal on sunny weekend and there lies the danger. But you can not start making exceptions on park basis. If Parks Canada says national parks are closed to visitor vehicle access, that must be same for all.


Keeping people locked is different debate & there are people on both side of the fence. I won't go into that in this thread (social media is probably full of it) only about conditions and change/clarification of official rules. I agree though that enforcing of these rules is totally different issue & only hefty fines can work.

solo75 03-30-2020 07:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zeljkok (Post 850332)
Couple of weekends ago, when parks closed facilities, but driving was allowed, there was horror on parking lots. Restrooms were closed, so idiots peed, shitted, left sanitary pads and who knows what else around the bathrooms, creating hygienic disaster. That in addition to all the social distancing which nobody obeyed. This was the main factor that prompted AB parks to shut down vehicle access..

That's the problem when schools are shut down early. Schools have to be better prepared next time with online learning to keep the kids educated and busy until June.


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