Call Of The Wi-Fi: Canadian Parks To Add Wi-Fi Hotspots

Ahh, the great outdoors, just a babbling brook, the scent of pine trees and a crackling campfire with a view over a glassy mountain lake. But what’s the point if you can’t post to Facebook, right?

Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park; photo Wikipedia commons

Well, Canada’s got you covered.

Parks Canada, the national park system of the maple leaf nation, plans to install wireless Internet access hotspots at up to 50 Canadian parks this year with more coming soon.

According to the National Post, the agency has requested bids from contractors to install Internet access points at 150 locations during the next three years.

Mount Revelstoke National Park, a spot from which you may soon be able to upload a selfie; photo Wikipedia commons

Parks Canada runs 44 reserves and 160 historic sites — including such iconic locations as Banff, Jasper and Mount Revelstoke National Parks. These are breathtaking sites that, until the installation of Wi-Fi, tend to be off the grid.

Andrew Campbell, a Parks Canada vice-president, told the Ottawa Citizen on Monday that the agency hasn’t figured out yet where the first hot spots will go but “obviously, we’re targeting some of the spots where we have more people.”

Parks Canada says visitors want to stay in touch even when off the grid. For those who don’t, well, they’ve got a choice.

“People can make their own choices,” Campbell said. “They don’t have to use their email, they don’t have to connect.”

Parks Canada says the service will be offered free of charge at most locations, with fee access in some where the installation cost is excessive or the location particularly remote.

This could be a treat for visitors from the U.S. or other countries who want to get in touch with friends or family, or even just update social media, without the cost of an international cell plan or roaming charges.

Some parks in the United States and Canada already offer Wi-Fi hotspots at ranger stations or campgrounds. Ontario’s provincial parks authority began experimenting with wireless Internet access in 2010 while Manitoba started installing Wi-Fi at its parks last year.

Sounds like the goal of getting away from it all may have just gotten a little bit tougher.

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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