Overcrowding at Garibaldi Provincial Park
The last weekend before Labor Day just came and went, with perfect weather and ideal hiking conditions (10C at night / 24C during the day). A friend and I headed up to Garibaldi Park for her birthday weekend, assuming it would be a bit busy, but that we could do long days / early mornings and avoid the crowds. (Wrong)
Friday evening we hiked up Rubble Creek to find the Garibaldi Lake campground already 100% full, which meant turning around and heading to Taylor Meadows with headlamps to another nearly full camping area. This wasn't a huge surprise, as there are only 90 sites to share between the hundreds of people who visit this park each day, but slightly disappointing nonetheless.
The thing that actually did surprise me were the sheer number of people on the trails. There were at least a hundred other people on the summit or ridge and en route up (see below) on Saturday. We still had a great day, as it's impossible to let anything spoil this incredible scenery, but it was a different experience, that's for sure.
Living in Whistler, I'm no stranger to weekend crowds. I would usually head far into the backcountry on a sunny weekend like this, but it worked better to meet my friend here and blah blah.. so there we were.
The next day we got up at 6AM to have some alone time with the Black Tusk before it got swarmed, and had another great day.
When we got to the parking lot, the cars were stretched down past 3 full lots almost all the way to HWY 99, and someone was in the parking area interviewing people on overcrowding in the park for her thesis. Limiting backcountry access, building more trails, expanding services.. these are a few things that Parks could consider doing to deal with the crowds. Since I live close by, my tactic will be to just go there on quiet weekday mornings this fall, but for most people that isn't an option.
What do you think? Where is the line between when overcrowding creates a bad experience for visitors, and encouraging park patronage + stewardship by inviting the whole world in? I'm not sure on this one myself. We need people to connect with nature if this world has a hope in hell of us standing up for our wild places. Then again, if those people create a bad experience for everybody by throwing their trash on the trails, being disrespectful at the camping areas, etc.. is it really for the best? Throw your two cents into the comments below.