Parks Canada eyes Kathleen Lake campground expansion

A Parks Canada proposal to expand the campground at Kathleen Lake in Kluane National Park may offer some relief for frustrated Whitehorse-area campers.

A Parks Canada proposal to expand the campground at Kathleen Lake in Kluane National Park may offer some relief for frustrated Whitehorse-area campers.

The territory’s busiest campgrounds fall within a two-hour drive from Whitehorse and it is notoriously difficult to get a campsite in the area. Kathleen Lake is just inside this radius.

The upgrade proposal must be approved by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board and is open for public comment until June 10. It includes a new campground loop with a minimum of 15 new campsites, five pull-through and 10 back-in.

Additionally, about five new “oTENTik” sites, the first in the Yukon, would be created. Parks Canada describes oTENTiks as “a cross between a tent and a rustic cabin” offering “a unique blend of homey comfort and a taste of outdoor adventure.” Each of the family-friendly units can sleep up to six people, but visitors are asked to bring their own sleeping bags.

The other proposed upgrades include a new natural playground, kitchen pavilion, boathouse, and new trails. Pending approval, work on the upgrades would take place from 2017-2021, largely outside of peak season to minimize disturbances to campers.

Kathleen Lake is one of Kluane National Park’s main attractions, and lies within the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, who are also being consulted on the project.

The upgrades would considerably expand Kathleen Lake’s camping capacity, which is currently 39 sites. But since it’s located within a national park, Yukon-resident annual campground permits are not valid there.

It costs $15.70 per night to camp at Kathleen Lake, plus an additional $8.80 per day if visitors wish to have campfires.

Unlike sites at territorial campgrounds, which can be reserved up to 72 hours in advance simply by leaving belongings on the site, the campground at Kathleen Lake is strictly first come, first-served.

The Yukon government is considering reducing the time campers can leave their belongings unattended in territorial campgrounds to 24 hours, as well as increasing the fines for breaking the rules.

A public survey on the proposed changes is available online until July 10.

Contact Andrew Seal at andrew.seal@yukon-news.com

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