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NWT campgrounds already filling up after record opening day

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Some Northwest Territories campgrounds are almost fully booked for key holiday weekends this summer, just days after the territory's online booking system opened for the season.

On Thursday, the territorial government declared "yet another" record-breaking opening day of bookings, with 909 reservations made.

"That’s a 21 percent increase over 2018’s 710 reservations, which was a new record in itself," proclaimed the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment on its website.

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By Thursday, Fred Henne Territorial Park – for which reservations opened a day later – had received 669 bookings. Prelude Lake Territorial Park had 271, Reid Lake had 260, and Fort Providence had 88.

At least one territorial park was already booked out for a holiday weekend: all 23 camping spots at Lady Evelyn Falls, in the South Slave, now show as reserved for the May long weekend.

Similarly, just a handful of Reid Lake's 76 campsites, north of Yellowknife, remain available for the August long weekend.

"There are still spots available to reserve at most parks during the long weekends," said Stephanie McCabe, the NWT's manager of parks operations.

"Apart from a great turn-out at Lady Evelyn falls this year, Victoria Day long weekend is still showing more opportunity than other weekends to book.

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"The weather has been quite nice so hopefully we see this into our opening week," she added. Parks open on May 15 for North Slave and South Slave, and May 17 for some parks in the Dehcho.

McCabe said if you're struggling for a spot, head to the Dehcho. "Blackstone and Sambaa Deh parks in the Dehcho should always have a spot for eager campers seeking adventure and some peace and quiet."

Meanwhile, Reid Lake is offering a half-price deal for people who book in from Sunday to Thursday.

Analyzing its opening-week data, the territory said more than half of its bookings came from NWT residents – 57 percent – with 26 percent from Alberta, a slight increase, and seven percent from Ontario.

A further seven percent of bookings came from the United States.