Deciding Where & When to Tent Camp
Knowing where you will be tent camping and for how long is essential to help make for a safe outing. Inform friends and family of your exact (or general) location and prep and pack accordingly. Look at the forecast for the days that you will be away and keep in mind that the weather can quickly change in British Columbia, particularly in mountainous locations.
There are two types of tent camping: frontcountry and backcountry, and camping differs in the areas designated for them.
Established, serviced campgrounds that you arrive to by car are generally considered to be frontcountry. They are the best choice for new and inexperienced tent campers.
These campgrounds include: private campgrounds, municipal or provincial campgrounds and national campgrounds. They will have amenities such as flush toilets and showers, potable water, picnic tables and designated fire rings. Many of the campsites will have recommended tent pitch areas. If access to electricity is desired, you will need to select this when booking (if the option exists). Some campgrounds will reserve tent sites for ‘walk-ins’ and most will allow pets, though restrictions will apply.
You may not always have a reliable cell signal and wifi may not exist at every campground. If this is important to you and your family, research this before you head out.
Backcountry camping, also called wilderness camping, allows tent campers to experience nature in areas with fewer people and access to trails and sites that are ‘off the beaten track’. There will be fewer amenities or none. Many backcountry campsites or designated areas will be ‘pack in and pack out’ – you are required to take away what you have brought into the area. While some tent camping areas will be vehicle accessible many are only accessible by hiking into.
Important tips for selecting a backcountry tent camping area:
Research the area beforehand to find out where it is, how to get there, access to potable water and what you will need to bring. Backcountry operators in the province include: Recreation Sites and Trails BC, BC Parks and Parks Canada. To view these options visit our Camping Map.
Verify any park regulations and necessary permits. BC Parks has a Backcountry Permit Registration System which allows the public to access backcountry camping permits up to two weeks in advance of the arrival date in 32 parks.
Figure out how far you will travel in total for the trip or each day if you will be on the move.
Tell someone or park staff where you will be going, especially if you plan to camp solo.
Find out BC highways and roads conditions before travelling to get up-to-date reports on traffic, washouts or fire danger.
Make sure you can read maps and know how to use a compass when heading into wilderness areas.
WHEN TO CAMP
Timing your camping trip is an important factor when planning, with summer and long weekends being the busiest. Book ahead. To find the dates for statutory holidays in British Columbia visit our FAQ page.