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B.C. Camping: Where To Go This Summer

Hiking, fishing, canoeing, oh my!
(Photo: Hello BC)
B.C.'s backcountry offers some gorgeous opportunities for camping but there's so much to choose from.

James Brittain, senior tent designer with Mountain Equipment Co-op, shared a few pointers on how to keep stress levels low while you plan your trip. Step one, he says, is to reserve your spot early.

"The ones that go quick are obviously by the water, so if you want to get that site, you need to plan ahead and head out early — like lunchtime, rather than the end of the day," Brittain told HuffPost B.C.

But be flexible and consider other nearby sites if Plan A doesn't work out, he said.

"It's kind of the whole point of camping... it's a little adventure. So if it doesn't go the way you planned, just embrace it and move forward."

Brittain also emphasized putting some thought into getting to your campsite once you've chosen one.

"Ideally, you'd want a four-wheel-drive car with good clearance — it's not necessarily driving up the pitch straight to the site," he said. "Think of how you're going to get your gear from your car, because even if it's only a few hundred metres, it can really turn into an epic if you weren't expecting it."

And of course, don't neglect to check the weather ahead of time, so you can pack appropriately for the conditions you'll be camping in. (Safety first, folks!)

With a little help from MEC and top picks from Destination BC, we've compiled a list of the province's best camping spots — including a place you can sleep at the base of the Canadian Rockies, and another where you can marvel at the northern lights on an evening hike.

Mount Robson Provincial Park, Southern Interior
Bordering the Canadian Rockies, this park offers over 200 kilometres of hiking trails that range from straight-forward strolls to challenging climbs. You can also go mountain biking, fishing, canoeing, rafting, and even take a heli-tour while you're visiting. The park has three campgrounds, located at Moose Lake, Yellowhead Lake, and near Valemount. For more information, click here.
Mount Robson Provincial Park, Southern Interior
At 3,954 metres tall, Mount Robson is the highest mountain in the Rockies and can be admired from the Berg Lake Campground, which sits directly at the mountain's base. But, be warned that the campsite is a 20-kilometre hike away from the nearest road, so getting there will be a bit of a trip in itself!
Crooked River, North-Central B.C.
A popular swimming spot just an hour north of Prince George, Crooked River Park is made up of three lakes bordered by sandy beaches. The cold-water Livingston Springs, which flow year-round, are a great way to beat the summer heat. Plus, if you luck out with clear skies during your stay here, you might even catch the northern lights at night.
Alouette Lake, Golden Ears Provincial Park
This lake is a hugely popular spot for swimming, canoeing, boating, fishing, windsurfing and water-skiing. The rugged backcountry is also great for hikes, so long as you're well-prepared. Booking a spot at one of three campgrounds is highly recommended, especially for weekend visits. The park is also closed to day-users when parking lots fill up (which usually happens around noon,) so be sure to stake out your spot as soon as possible. More information here.
Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island
Sitting midway between Ucluelet and Tofino and taking full advantage of B.C.'s coastal views, the park's Green Point campground is a popular destination for families. If you book through the Equipped Camping option, you'll arrive to a fully stocked campsite, complete with supplies including sleeping pads, a cook stove, and a tent. Broken Group Islands is a good spot for backcountry camping, but you'll need a boat to get there. The multi-day, West Coast Trail hike is also nearby, with campsites scattered along the route for experienced hikers.
Tofino, Vancouver Island
That being said, camping just about anywhere around Tofino is bound to be gorgeous. Surfing, of course, is immensely popular, as is exploring the abundance of trails and beaches that make gave the tiny town its reputation.
Cathedral Provincial Park, Okanagan
This park is made up of rugged mountain peaks, turquoise lakes and stunning alpine meadows. You can camp at Quiniscoe Lake or Lake of the Woods — both of which offer gorgeous views galore. It's important to note though that freezing temperatures and snow can strike the park at any time of year, so pack appropriately. More information here.
Cultus Lake Provincial Park, Chilliwack
Located in the middle of the Lower Mainland, this is one of the province's most popular summer spots. A huge, warm, fresh-water lake surrounded by mountains is regularly packed with beachgoers and campers. The park has picnic areas, places for fishing and hiking, and four campgrounds. Boating is also an extremely popular activity here. The park is a short drive away from the family-friendly community of Cultus Lake, which has a waterslide park, two golf courses, mini-golf, go-karting, bumper boats, a marina and a laundromat.
Peace Island Park, Fort St. John
Bordered by the Rocky Mountains, the terrain in and around Fort St. John is a must-see. Beatton Provincial Park, Charlie Lake Provincial Park, and Peace Island Park are great spots for families, as they all have an abundance of places to swim, hike, play sports, and gather around a campfire. For those who like to get off the beaten path, Graham-Laurier Provincial Park and Redfern-Keily Provincial Park offer Rocky Mountain wilderness camping, and can only be reached by ATV, horseback, or on foot. More information here.
Lillooet Lake, Squamish, South Coast-Mountain
Even though it's only about an hour away from Vancouver, Lillooet Lake rarely gets rained on, so camping in tents feels like a breeze. (Dry climate = no mosquitos, by the way.) Campgrounds range from no service to full-service, and offer plenty of things to do. You can hike, kayak, canoe, mountain bike, fish, bird watch, golf, or take a dip in the lake. More information here.
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, Edgewater
Part of the Rocky Mountains, this park is home to stunning lakes, glaciers, and alpine meadows. Visitors can camp, hike, and mountain climb here, but remember: it's an untouched area that lies off the beaten path. You'll need thorough preparations and all the proper equipment before you go exploring, and only experienced climbers should head into the glaciers. But, if you're well-prepared and travel smart, the views are worth the trek. More here.
Great Northern Circle Route, North Coast
Take your RV on the 10-day, Great Northern Circle Route — the 3,000-kilometre drive takes travellers through the rugged terrain, but still has great places to camp out for the night. There are also plenty of natural and historic attractions to visit along the way, and you could go fishing, too! (Fun fact: Northern B.C.'s wilderness is bigger than California or Japan, and twice the size of the United Kingdom — so there's plenty of room to explore!)
E.C. Manning Provincial Park, Hope
Sitting between the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan, Manning Park offers a huge variety of hiking trails, fishing spots, horseback riding routes, bike paths and access to glacier-fed lakes. You can book a spot at one of five campgrounds for your tent or trailer, but take note — it's one of the busiest parks in the province, so be sure to call ahead. If campgrounds aren't your thing, you can also go backcountry camping within the park for $5 per night. More information here.
Wells Gray Provincial Park, Clearwater
A hub for outdoor adventuring, Wells Gray Provincial Park is a gorgeous hot spot for hikers, with a large network of trails ranging from casual walks to tough treks. In July, the Trophy Mountain alpine meadow is in full bloom, which is definitely something worth seeing. You can also go fishing, golfing, kayaking, or whitewater rafting. You can camp in a campground, or kick it in the backcountry. Details here.
Glacier National Park, Revelstoke
This park has three campgrounds: Illecillewaet, Loop Brook, and Mount Sir Donald. Illecillewaet and Loop Brook both offer flush toilet washrooms, firewood, and drinking water. Mount Sir Donald offers camping at a lower cost, but no campfires are allowed at that site. None of the sites have RV hookups, showers, or laundry facilities and are available on a first come, first served basis — so if you like to rough it and avoid the crowds, this is the park for you.
Gulf Islands National Parks Reserve, Near Vancouver Island
This park is a backcountry campers dream, with 10 camping areas scattered across eight different islands. Seven of those sites are accessible only by boat — so if you're looking to really rough it, this is where you'll want to be. There are also two drive-in campgrounds in the park: McDonald Campground in Sidney and Prior Centennial Campground on Pender Island. More information here.
Alice Lake Provincial Park, Squamish
Four freshwater lakes are a huge part of this provincial park, surrounded by mountains and dense forests. The trail around Alice Lake is great for those who enjoy leisurely hikes, while the Four Lakes Trail would be well-suited to the adventurous explorer. Reservations are strongly recommended, as this park is often very busy, according James Brittain from Mountain Equipment Co-op. More information here.

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