I’ve pitched my tent all across Australia and Europe, but it’s my frequent camping trips in Canada that really stand out for me. The hiking trails and scenic views around Vancouver and rural British Columbia are unforgettable, with tall forests, magnificent mountains and the most beautiful lakes you can imagine. These are my top six.
Alice Lake Provincial Park
This was the first place I went camping with my dad, so it holds special significance for me. At the time the highlight was playing in the campground’s swimming pool with all the other kids, but now I’m more impressed by the mountain and forest trails and the views over the beautiful lakes.
Alice Lake is the perfect place to go for a last-minute trip, so long as there’s a free spot, as it’s only an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver.
Golden Ears Provincial Park
If you like your camping ground complete with all the modern luxury of homes, or perhaps your best mate or girlfriend prefers to camp this way, then I recommend Golden Ears. Flushing toilets, hot showers and recycle bins all make it easy to cope, while the hiking trails are a great place to take inexperienced ramblers, with waterfalls and great views of the nearby mountains.
Garibaldi Provincial Park
At the other end of the scale is the campground in Garibaldi Provincial Park, where there’s no running water and no one to empty the bins, so be sure to take your rubbish with you. Here, you can revel in the grandeur of Mother Nature – glacial lakes surrounded by volcanic rock and massive mountains spearing skyward. Ahhh, how’s the serenity…
Granite Falls in Indian Arm Provincial Park
Found in Indian Arm Provincial Park, Granite Falls takes a bit of elbow grease to get to. There’s no road in, with most campers preferring to kayak up Indian Arm and pitch their tents by the bottom of the waterfall. My favourite time of year to visit is in spring, when the weather’s starting to warm up (last time I went there was a sign forbidding campfires) and you can sit by the water and watch salmon spawning.
China Beach in Juan de Fuca National Park
If you haven’t yet been to the jewel that is Vancouver Island, make haste – it’s the one place I recommend every newcomer to Canada visit. One of the best ways to explore it is on foot, with many trails leading from China Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. It’s also one of the few beaches in the country where you’re allowed to camp on the sand, making it a truly remarkable experience – just be sure to pitch your tent far enough away from the water!
Capilano River RV Park
The RV park at Capilano is one of the few, if not the only park, actually in a Vancouver suburb that allows RVs, although regular campers are also welcome. Its close proximity to the city makes it great for heading out after work on Friday night, giving you a head start on exploring the surrounding area over the weekend – be sure to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain. Similar to Alice Lake, this campground is great for kids and families; if that’s something you’d rather avoid then maybe somewhere more remote would be better.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Of course there are many other great camping spots near Vancouver, including Harrison Hot Springs, Porteau Cove, Cultus Lake and Widgeon Falls. Once you try camping Canada-style, you’ll already be planning your next trip before you leave.