Know Before You Go Camping in British Columbia.  Looking to find winter camping?

Douglas Bevans of Sunshine Coast Art Tours and guests after an enjoyable visit to Motoko's Fine Art Gallery in Garden Bay. Credit: Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Winter Activities On British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast for Snowbird RVers

From the artistic community of Gibsons northeast to the harbour village of Lund, mountains meet the sea along the Sunshine Coast, a mainland area uniquely only accessible by ferry, boat or plane. Winters are typically mild and range from 2 to 10ºC (20 to 50°F) during the day. In lower elevations, rains keep the flora and forests lush, while higher areas see snow.

There’s plenty to do both inside and out if you’re RVing here in the winter. Make sure to get out on the water and head up some slopes. You will be rewarded with majestic views and an excellent chance of seeing animals in their natural environment.

Beach walks and beachcombing make for enjoyable outings in the off-season | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Arts, Shops and Spas

This scenic and inspiring region boasts a thriving art community with more artists per capita than any other area in Canada. The Purple Banner Tour is a self-directed studio and gallery tour. Purple flags along the Sunshine Coast Highway and local streets from Langdale to Lund indicate galleries or artists’ studios, many of which are open to the public. (Visitation appointments may be necessary.) Sunshine Coast Art Tours combines visits to some tasting rooms with a majestic flight over Sechelt Inlet. There are also many eclectic shops and boutiques to explore that sell locally produced and handmade items.

Douglas Bevans of Sunshine Coast Art Tours and guests after an enjoyable visit to Motoko’s Fine Art Gallery in Garden Bay | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson 

The town of Gibsons on the shores of Howe Sound has a collection of fine galleries, clothing and giftware shops and bookstores. Molly’s Lane and Marine Drive are some streets to check out, as are the Gibsons Public Art Gallery and the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives. The Kube has working artist studios, an art gallery and curated retail. 

In Sechelt the Raven’s Cry Theatre shows movies and hosts events and the shíshálh Nation tems swiya Museum has a large collection of artifacts including cedar baskets and ancient stone tools.

For a different experience visit the collection of yurts in Madeira Park at Fibre Works Studio & Gallery, a creative space for art exhibits and workshops. The Sunshine Coast also has funky thrift and vintage shops and there are craft fairs and year-round and seasonal markets, including the Gibsons Public Market, the Roberts Creek Community Farm Market and Powell River’s Townsite Public Market. Sechelt has a winter market in the pre-Christmas season and the Powell River Community Resource Center hosts the Uptown Winter Market.

There are fun and practical general stores, including one at Roberts Creek and Halfmoon Bay. Madeira Park is the main shopping centre for the Pender Harbour region.

Historic Powell River has an educational forestry museum and, in late winter, hosts the Powell River Film Festival in the classic Patricia Theatre, Canada’s oldest continuously running cinema. The townsite has over 400 buildings dating to the original 1910 town plan and, in 1995, was designated as a National Historic District of Canada. Stroll around for yourself or book a heritage walking tour. There’s also the unique opportunity to take in an Indigenous experience, such as the Tla’amin Nation Cultural Tours where you can meet skilled craftspeople and learn about traditional practices.

Enjoying the Spa and Serenity Garden at Painted Boat Resort & Marina in Pender Harbour | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Of course, it’s not the West Coast without some zen spa treatments. A few to visit are Painted Boat Resort Spa in Madeira Park, with its Canadian Wilderness Scrub, Seabreeze Spa in Halfmoon Bay, Shades of Jade in Roberts Creek and Beyond Bliss in Powell River.

Click here for the Sunshine Coast Tourism events calendar.

Coffee Culture, Drinks and Dining

A dedicated coffee culture thrives in the Sunshine Coast. For mojo, pastries, brunch and more check out:

Black Bean Cafe, Beachcomber Coffee Company and Wheatberries Bakery in Gibsons
Gumboot Café, Roberts Creek
Basted Baker and Strait Coffee in Sechelt
Skookumchuck Café and Bakery, amongst the trees in Egmont
Base Camp Coffee, 32 Lakes Coffee Roasters and Bakery, River City Coffee Roasters and Edie Rae’s Café at the Old Courthouse Inn, all in Powell River.
Nancy’s Bakery, Lund (popular for its blackberry cinnamon buns).

Tacos and margaritas at Mexican and Latin influenced Costa del Sol in Powell River | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Drinks and dining options range from sustainable restaurants and bistros to distilleries and taphouses. Here are a few to sample:

Drift Café and Bistro for West Coast French.
Tap Works Brewing Company, The 101 Brewhouse & Distillery, Banditry Cider, Persephone Brewing Company and farm and Sunday Cider, all Gibsons area.
Bruinwood Estate Distillery and Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse, Roberts Creek

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons Photo: BC Ale Trail
Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons | BC Ale Trail

The Backeddy Pub in Egmont for Pacific Northwest fare with inlet views.
Townsite Brewing for craft beer, Monks on Marine for a steak and Guinness pie and Costa Del Sol for Latin cuisine, all Powell River.
The Bricker Cider Company and TwentyTwo Taphouse in Sechelt. Also, El Segundo for Pacific tropical fusion and Jamar Canteen for Lebanese food and cooking demos. For comfort food try the Wobbly Canoe or the Gourmet Girl.

You can always refer to the BC Ale Trail for self-guided itineraries along the Sunshine Coast. Many establishments are dog friendly.

Outdoor Activities and Tours

When visiting the Sunshine Coast in winter you’ll need waterproof gear and to have extra clothing on hand. Plan any hikes—particularly in the off-season—and respect trail rules and any closures.

Wildlife such as elk, deer and coyotes are active year-round and blue herons and bald eagles can be easily spotted. Along the coast you will see seals and even sea lions, and molluscs and sea anemones in tidal pools. Guided wildlife tours are recommended for safety and best viewing. If you’re in Gibsons on a weekend the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre may be of interest.

The winter recreation of Dakota Ridge (max elevation 1,200 m) will have you looking up and out over mountains, islands and inlets | Brayden Hall @braybraywoowoo

Popular hikes and hiking areas include:

Soames Hill Park and “The Knob”, Gibsons, for sea and island views.
Iris Griffith Wetlands Park, Baker Beach Park and Mount Daniel/Garden Bay Marine Provincial Park near Madeira Park.
Pender Hill Park and beachcombing and birdwatching around Pender Harbour.
Cliff Gilker Park, Roberts Creek.
Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park and trails around Halfmoon Bay.
Suncoaster Trail and Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park near Egmont—witness the spectacular tidal changes of the Sechelt Rapids.
Sechelt area: Wakefield Road Beach, Kinnikinnik Park, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park and the lush forest of Hidden Groves.
Willingdon Beach Trail, Powell River.
Lund and area. Explore nearby marine parks, including Desolation Sound (by boat) and the Sunshine Coast Trail, Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail.

Creek areas and falls to visit in the winter are: Cliff Gilker ParkLangdale FallsHomesite Creek, Kelly Falls and  David Lam Falls in Blackwater Creek.

Cliff Gilker Park, Roberts Creek | Chris Thorn Photography

Inland from Sechelt, winter recreation fans enjoy the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails at Dakota Ridge. (Alpha Adventures organizes tours here.) The ski trails are well groomed and the snowshoe trails vary in difficulty. Just north are the trails in and around Tetrahedron, a wonderful provincial park for backcountry snowshoeing. Powell River is home to Knuckleheads, a sub-alpine area popular for snowmobiling and snowshoeing.

Tours are a great way to get out and about and experience the Sunshine Coast from a local’s perspective. Sunshine Coast Tours has a boating day trip to Princess Louisa Inlet (where you can see Chatterbox Falls); you can also charter a floatplane to view this hidden gem. Harbour Air Seaplanes offers scenic flights from Sechelt. Winter kayak or go on a boat tour of the Halfmoon Bay or Pender Harbour areas; various companies offer rentals and tours. Also, Sunshine Coast Shuttles out of Powell River drives people to/from the Sunshine Coast Trail and offers some supply services.

If you fish the Sunshine Coast is a dream come true, with its inland lakes and streams, meandering coastline and the Salish Sea. The Powell River area is famous for Chinook salmon and a winter fishing charter is an unforgettable adventure. Companies include OTB Charters (Pender Harbour) and Powell River Sportfishing and Coho Point Fishing Charters. All anglers in BC must obtain separate licences to fish in tidal (salt) water and/or freshwater.

NB: Visitor Information Centres across the Sunshine Coast may have shortened business hours in the winter.

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Sunshine Coast Tourism reminds locals and visitors that they’ re on the traditional territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, shíshálh, Skwxwú7mesh, and Homalco Nations”. Its Know Before You Go webpage has details on safe, responsible and respectful travel.

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Exploring North Vancouver Island, British Columbia – Port McNeill & Port Hardy to Coal Harbour & Cape Scott

After a busy first-four days we moved campsites from Alder Bay RV Park and Marina to Cluxewe Resort, located just 15 minutes north of Port McNeill. Cluxewe Resort is centred on the ancestral land of the Kwakiutl First Nation and is indigenous owned and operated by the friendliest helpful staff. This resort is open year-round with lots of camping options (ocean front, full service, no service etc.) and cottages available for rent. We walked for hours on the rocky beach in each direction of the resort, enjoyed beautiful sunsets and watched campers fishing for salmon off the shore.

Cluxewe Resort north of Port McNeill | C. Stathers

From our new homebase, we headed over to Coal Harbour (no, not the one in Vancouver). It was a short 30-minute drive from the campsite on paved roads. Coal Harbour is located on Quatsino Sound which provides boat access to communities such as Holberg and Port Alice. It is a busy harbour with float plane and boat traffic.

Coal Harbour Mail Run | C. Stathers

We took the mail boat over to Quatsino from the dock in Coal Harbour, a small boat-access-only community with a population of only 43. The “mail boat run” delivers mail on Mondays and Thursdays, costs $25pp, and is about a one-hour trip.

After our boat ride to Quatsino, we visited the museum in the Float Plane Hanger by the dock. We learned all about its whaling history; the industry closed in 1967 due to declining stock. It also has a history of being an air force base during World War 2, a mining town (it had a 350 metre deep open-pit copper mine which closed in 1996) and now focusing on logging, tourism and fishing. The museum has a huge 6 metre jawbone of a blue whale, apparently the largest in the world! We also checked out the chain saw display, old engines and a 1917 Ford Model T and a 1928 Ford Model A.

Coal Harbour Museum | C. Stathers

The next morning, at about 10:00 am, we headed off on our day-long trip to Cape Scott Park on the northern tip of the Island.  Be prepared for 65km each way on a dusty, bumpy logging road. We have a 4-wheel drive truck which handled the roads well, but also passed a number of low-clearance cars which also seemed to be safely navigating the road. The road was in fairly good condition as much of it had been recently graded; but from what I had read, conditions are constantly changing. There are also lots of warning signs as this is an active logging road, and the logging trucks have the right-of-way. We were incredibly impressed by the accurate signage all the way to the parking lot at Cape Scott Park.

Store in Holberg | C. Stathers

First stop on our trip was the small village of Holberg (population of 35), about 50km along the road. At one time Holberg was a floating logging camp; now, just the remnants of the old wood pilings can be seen on the inlet. A must-stop is the Holberg Pitstop; it is a general store and features lodging. You can stock up on everything from sunscreen to beer and stay overnight in one of the newly-renovated rooms. Next trip we will definitely stay overnight, so we can explore more of the west coast area.

Cape Scott Provincial Park, San Josef Bay | C. Stathers

After the “pitstop” we continued on our way to Cape Scott Provincial Park; we were impressed with the road improvement after Holberg (or maybe we were just getting used to the bumps). We arrived at the parking lot around noon with a few spots left and headed off on the trail to San Josef Bay, a 45-minute one-way hike along a well maintained crushed-gravel trail. There are pit toilets at the trail head, as well as, at San Josef Bay. There are also bear caches at the bay and a number of beach-side campsites. We planned ahead so we arrived at low tide, so we could walk from San Josef Bay to Second Beach. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and we loved walking in the shallow surf on the beautiful, soft, sand. Beach features included caves, sea stacks, and wildlife.  Other hikers continued along the full 26km Cape Scott Trail.

After our visit to San Josef Bay, we returned to Holberg and the Scarlet Ibis Pub for nachos and a nice, cold drink on the patio overlooking Holberg Inlet. Known for being Vancouver Island’s Most Remote Pub, we found the staff incredibly friendly and the food, good. It was great to sit on the patio with the locals and learn more about the area. 

Scarlet Ibis Pub, Holberg | C. Stathers

Last stop before heading back to our campsite was the car wash just south of Port McNeill to get our dusty truck cleaned up and ready for our last adventure day before heading home.

The next morning, we went to Storey’s Beach on Beaver Harbour Road just south of Port Hardy.  The tide was out, and we felt like we could walk for miles on the blackish sandy beach. This is a beautiful stretch of sand that I would highly recommend. It is good for kayaking too.

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We spent the rest of the day enjoying the beach and sunset back at Cluxewe Resort and some barbequed salmon from Scarlet Point Seafoods in Port Hardy. A great way to finish off our North Vancouver Island trip!

To read about the first half our trip go to Sayward to Port McNeill.

For camping accommodations in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

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Green Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia’s Cariboo is a Great Destination for a Camping Holiday

Green Lake Provincial Park is a series of sites surrounding 14-kilometre long Green Lake in British Columbia’s South Cariboo. Of the park’s eleven locations, six have facilities for visitors.

Camping at Emerald Bay in Green Lake Provincial Park | Kim Walker

The park contains three vehicle accessible campgrounds: Arrowhead, Sunset View, and Emerald Bay. On our most recent trip to Green Lake Provincial Park, we stayed at the Emerald Bay campground, which offers a mix of single and double campsites. We were very fortunate to get one of the waterfront sites, which was lovely as we almost always travel with our kayaks and we were able to keep our kayaks on our own little beach! The 51 sites at Emerald Bay are spacious and generally private, but there are a limited number of waterfront sites, and those that do have direct access to the water often have a steep trail as the access. The Arrowhead campsite, in contrast, contains 16 high-density sites. While you are undeniably close to your neighbours, your site will also be directly on the water with extremely easy access.

The Emerald Bay and Sunset View campgrounds, in addition to two other sites, Blue Spring and Little Arrowhead, all have day use facilities.  Emerald Bay and Sunset View have lovely picnic shelters and all sites have picnic tables. These sites are all great options for a day at the beach!

Emerald Bay Picnic Shelter, Green Lake | Kim Walker

Green Lake is known for its warm, greenish coloured water. Despite only being 14 kilometres long, Green Lake has about 57 kilometres of shoreline. The lake contains numerous small islands and peninsulas, which makes it a perfect destination to explore by kayak.  Paddling from the Emerald Bay campground to the Arrowhead Campground is a nice day trip of about 17 kilometres round trip. Along the way, paddlers will pass by the Black Bear and Little Arrowhead sites. Another lovely paddle is from the Emerald Bay campsite across the lake to the Nolan Creek site, then down to the Green Lake Islands site. When paddling on Green Lake, it is important to be prepared for rough conditions, as the lake tends to get very windy in the afternoon.  A life jacket is a must and all paddlers should be prepared in case of an unexpected swim.

Horseback Riding near Green Lake, Cariboo | Kim Walker

The area surrounding Green Lake is excellent terrain for cycling and horseback riding. On our trip, we did a guided horseback trail ride at a nearby lodge and guest ranch, which was a great experience for this nervous rider. My dad, on the other hand, prefers to cover his distance in the South Cariboo by bicycle, and enjoys nice long road rides while camped at Green Lake.

Sunset on Green Lake, Cariboo | Kim Walker

Green Lake Provincial Park makes a great basecamp for exploring the region, and a few highlights include nearby Chasm Provincial Park, the Bridge Lake Ice Caves, driving to Lone Butte to see the historic water tower, and checking out the many other lakes in the area, including Bridge Lake .

Visiting Green Lake Provincial Park each summer is a tradition for many families. The park offers perfect beachfront relaxation with excellent recreation opportunities both on and off the water.

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For campgrounds in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

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Pender Island, British Columbia: The Perfect Weekend Away

If you are looking for a new adventure, why not consider one of the Gulf Islands situated off the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia? A few summers ago we decided to pick one or two Gulf Islands each year to explore, and Pender Island proved to be an excellent choice.

Port Browning Marina, Pender Island | C. Stathers

To get to Pender Island, you take a ferry either from Tsawwassen or from Swartz Bay. When planning your trip, remember to check the routes and schedules on the BC Ferries website because they vary depending on the time of the year. If you are travelling during peak times, it is well worth making a reservation.

On our trip, we departed from Tsawwassen south of Vancouver and stopped at both Galiano and Mayne Islands before arriving at Otter Bay on North Pender Island; it took a little less than 2 hours with no transfers. If you are coming from Swartz Bay (Sidney, Vancouver Island), then the ferry is about 40 minutes.

Explore One of the Beaches on Pender Island | C. Stathers

Pender Island is actually two islands (North Pender and South Pender) joined by a small one-lane bridge, which was built in 1955. The canal was dredged in the early 1900s to allow the passage of boats including the SS Iroquois, a steamboat ferry which provided transportation between the Gulf Islands, Sidney and Nanaimo. Unfortunately in 1911 it sank outside Sidney, killing over 20 people.

Picnic at Hope Bay | C. Stathers

We spent a lot of time exploring the 34 square kilometers of the islands; we wanted to see as much as possible on our few days there. Based on 2021 census data there are just over 2,400 full-time residents on the north island and about 300 on the south. It is the second largest of the Gulf Islands that we have visited: Salt Spring (11,635), Galiano (1,396), Mayne (1,304) and finally, Saturna (465) which we still have on our list to visit. It was interesting looking up the census data as I really had a sense that the south island was much less populated with a more rural/farming feel.

There is no public transportation on the island but, as with Mayne Island, they have “car stops” set up to encourage giving those travelling-on-foot a ride. Apparently Pender Island was the first island to start the program and it has been successfully running since 2008; it now has 29 stops. The Pender Island Chamber of Commerce has a great map which highlights all the car stops on the island.

Prior Centennial Campground, Pender Island | G. Stathers

When planning a place to stay, I would recommend Prior Centennial Campground on North Pender Island with 17 sites. There are lots of trails in the park and, for those interested in Disc Golf, there is a trail from the campsite to the Golf Island Disc Park. Reservations at this park are through the Parks Canada website. Speaking of golf, and considering that my husband is an avid golfer, we had to check out the Pender Island Golf and Country Club, a nine-hole course known for its challenging shots and beautiful views. 

Port Browning Marina Pub | C. Stathers

For those arriving on Pender Island by boat, there is moorage available at Port Browning Marina Resort near Bedwell Harbour. We had lunch at the pub on their patio and enjoyed the view and excellent food.

We also had a great picnic lunch at Hope Bay. For dessert we picked up some chocolates at Pender Island Chocolates. On our next visit we plan to have a lunch or dinner at the HUB at Hope Bay.

Our getaways always seem to focus on food and hiking!

Mount Norman Observation Platform | C. Stathers

We found some fun trails on North Pender around Magic Lake and will definitely return to Mount Norman on South Pender. We picked up Mount Norman trail head on Ainslie Point Road (just off Canal Road). The first part of the trail winds its way through the lush, beautiful trees before you start the climb to the summit which is the highest point on Pender at 800 feet. From the observation platform at the top, you will have a panoramic view of the surrounding islands, including Salt Spring.

The Pender Islands Museum is housed in a 1908 “kit” house in its original waterfront setting at Roesland in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. | Pender Islands Museum

Since I am a bit of a history buff, we had to visit the Pender Island Museum at Roesland in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (2408 South Otter Bay Road). Roesland is an old homestead with the museum in the historic Roe House. For 70+ years, it was the heart of the rustic Roesland Resort, attracting families year after year.

The museum website describes the Roe house as being built in “1908, and a “kit” house ordered from a Vancouver Island lumber company. All the pre-cut lumber was delivered to Roesland by barge and put together on its log base in about a week. Total cost for the three-bedroom house: $589.62!

It was a beautiful sunny day on our visit; we enjoyed tea and goodies in the historic Roe House. The property and buildings sit on Roe Inlet which has lots of easy walking trails around the property.

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Pender is perfect for a weekend getaway and year-round holiday destination. I would suggest a visit any season; whether you choose the busy summer months or the sleepy shoulder seasons, you will not be disappointed.

Check out Four Reasons to Visit Pender Island This Fall

For places to RV and camp in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

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Visit Bromley Rock Provincial Park in BC’s Okanagan Similkameen

The long, hot summer days in BC’s interior call for white sand, cool water, and plenty of places to recline in the shade. Bromley Rock Provincial Park, located 20 kilometres east of Princeton on the shores of the Similkameen River, offers the perfect destination for a day trip, or if you are lucky, a weekend getaway.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park is a small and extremely popular campsite in the south Okanagan. Offering just 17 sites, Bromley Rock can be tricky to get into, but for an earlier summer trip there we were fortunate to get a last-minute Discover Camping reservation. This allowed us to extend our annual day use visit and spend a few days relaxing under the shade of Douglas Firs along the banks of the Similkameen River.

Floating on the Similkameen River at Bromley Rock
Floating on the Similkameen River at Bromley Rock

Bromley Rock is well known as a popular entrance spot for floating the Similkameen River. Every afternoon, our peaceful riverside retreat became a liquid highway as people of all ages paddled and floated by in/on all manner of watercraft. From traditional black inner tubes to gigantic party unicorns and from inflatable row boats (complete with oars) to enormous rubber ducks (complete with giant inflatable sunglasses), there is no doubt that in the afternoon, the Similkameen is where the party is.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park Beach
Bromley Rock Provincial Park Beach | Photo: K. Walker

If floating is not your cup of tea, the day use area west of the campground that serves as the float launch point makes a pretty great destination all on its own. With a huge white sand beach, a deep and relatively calm pool for swimming, and a cliff perfect for jumping, it quickly became obvious that this is one of the most popular destinations in the area on a sunny afternoon. The day use site has 30 parking spots, but when we were there cars were parked all along the access road. If picnicking is more your speed, Bromley Rock’s day use area offers 19 shaded picnic tables overlooking the river and near the parking lot, making it an excellent place to stop for lunch on a quieter day.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park on the Similkameen River
Bromley Rock Provincial Park on the Similkameen River | Photo: K. Walker

In general, we prefer a laid-back and less populated travelling experience, so we found afternoons at the main beach a bit on the overwhelming side. This was quickly resolved when we realized that we could easily walk down to the main beach each morning and evening when there was scarcely another soul around. In the afternoons, we took our lawn chairs down one of the many paths leading from the campground to the riverside. Here, we were able to soak up the sounds of the river in relative isolation, as nearly the entire campsite appeared to head for the beach each day at 11 and not return until late afternoon.

Campsite at Bromley Rock Provincial Park, Similkameen
Campsite at Bromley Rock Provincial Park, Similkameen | Photo: K. Walker

Whether you are seeking a beach party or a relaxing day at the river, Bromley Rock Provincial Park has something for everyone. With a mix of exposed and shaded campsites, a large day use area, and the extremely appealing riverfront location, Bromley Rock Provincial Park is certainly worth adding to your summer bucket list.

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For other camping options in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia go to our Camping Map.

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Camping in British Columbia’s West Kootenays: Checking out three great campsites

Camping in the West Kootenay’s is a great way to explore the area and visit communities like Nakusp and Burton.  So in July 2020, we visited three campgrounds near or on the shores of Arrow Lake and the town of Nakusp.

KBR Campground

2 km north of Nakusp lies KBR Campground with 40 campsites. This campground is in a great location for those who want to explore the area, through hiking, shopping, eating out in Nakusp, or relaxing in the hot springs across the road. A new addition this summer is their koi pond. KBR is a great location for travellers on the go.

Three Islands Resort

15 km south of Nakusp is Three Islands Resort. Located on Summit Lake, this campsite is a paradise for campers with easy access to the lake, lots of local ATV trails and very helpful owners. What we liked about this campground was the lovely beach and boat launch plus lots of choice for sites, whether you are looking for tenting, full service or lakeshore sites.

Burton Historical Park / Photo: C. Stathers

Burton Historical Park

36 km south of Nakusp is the community of Burton with its rich history. Founded in 1895, Burton was originally a gold rush town. Its destiny dramatically changed with the signing of the Columbia River Treaty (between Canada and the United States) and the building of the Keenleyside Dam in the early 1960s which controlled the flow of water in the river for hydro-electric power. This was a very traumatic time for many of the long-time residents in the area who were forced to leave or relocate when the valley was flooded.

Campsite #7 Burton Historical Park / Photo: C. Stathers

Near the original town site is the RV Park we stayed at; it is called Burton Historical Park. This park is a real gem, sitting on the shores of Arrow Lake. There are lots of sites along the lake, as well as great amenities such as hot showers, great beach access and a sani-dump. The Seniors Trail (named in honour of the local seniors group who developed it) leads from the campsite south along the lake to the site of the old cemetery.  The campsite host at the park shared with us that in the early spring when the water levels are low, you can still see remnants of the old foundations.

Burton Bean / Photo: C. Stathers

While we were camping at Burton we walked up the road to the Burton Bean, a farm stand with lots of local seasonal fruits and vegetables along with all kinds of neat treasures from local vendors and artisans. If you are looking for eggs, this is the place to go. This has to be the cutest chicken yard I have ever seen, full of happy hens!

Chicken Yard at Burton Bean / Photo: C. Stathers

A little further up the road we stopped in at Burton City Cider to try some of their local cider and their yummy pizza.

Store Sign in Burton / Photo: C. Stathers

We then meandered across the highway, to the community of Burton. Even though many of the original buildings on the lake were either burned or torn down, we walked past many that were relocated including the old general store which is now closed.

If you are looking for great camping, a beautiful part of BC and plenty of things to do, check out the Nakusp area and make it a destination for your next summer camping trip.

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If this area interests you, check out our drive:
Mountains, Lakes & Rivers in the West Kootenays and Boundary Country

For other campgrounds in this area or elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc, #BCNice, #explorebc

Fun Family Camping Trip to the Okanagan, British Columbia

Skaha Lake, Penticton
Skaha Lake, Penticton

It doesn’t feel like summer until we visit Penticton, the interior of BC where it’s always warmer and where fruit orchards and wineries make for a picturesque summer photo. With our trailer in tow, the average five-hour commute allows us to enjoy the beautiful lush scenery and mountain peak tops until we arrive at Southbeach Gardens RV & Campground, where we have become regulars.  Often times the kids will have their tablets and headphones ready for the road-trip, along with pillows and blankets next to them just in case they feel like taking a nap.  We would pack fresh fruits, lots of water and some salty snacks to avoid having to make unnecessary stops if someone gets hungry.

Southbeach Gardens RV Park & Campground
Southbeach Gardens RV Park & Campground

Upon arriving and checking-in, unpacking and settling at our camping spot becomes the next item on our to do list.  We keep coming back to this campsite because it’s conveniently located across the Skaha Lake, offering over 250 RV and tent spacious camping spots and lots of greenery to keep cool during the hot summer days. The kids playground, arcade and the mini golf is where the kids like to spend most of their time.  For us, being able to grab the beach towels and walk across the street for a swim in the lake saves us time and makes it that much more enjoyable. Renting equipment for various water sports such as paddle boards, jet-skis and kayaks is also available at the beach.

This year we could not have asked for better weather, with temperatures tempering between high twenties and mid thirties, it was beach weather everyday.  And since we booked two weeks in August, I made a list of all the places I wanted to visit and make the most of our time spent here.

Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm
Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm

One of the first places we visited was the Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm.  Situated on the hills of South Kelowna overlooking the Okanagan Lake, it is the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll or catching the last sun rays before the sun sets.  And if you are a lavender enthusiast like I am, then you will cherish the free sample of edible ‘pure lavender and lemon balm’ that you receive upon your entrance into the garden.  Beside the beautiful blooming lavender buds, we really enjoyed walking through the hedge maze and writing wishes on the wishing tree; where you write your wish on a long plastic strip and tie it to the round iron structure amid all the purple plants.

H2O Adventure Fitness Centre
H2O Adventure Fitness Centre

On one of the ‘cooler’ days, we felt like leaving the beach scene and checking out the H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre where the Surf Simulator is all the hype.  A fifteen-minute drive from Kelowna Downtown, the centre features three waterslides, a wave-pool, lazy river, a spray park and play area for the little ones, as well as two hot-tubs and an Olympic size pool.  Of course, most of our time was spent at the Surf Simulator, where the kids got to practice their surfing moves, either standing up or on their knees for the less advanced.

Kalamalka Lake
Kalamalka Lake

With our friends from Kelowna, we visited the Kalamalka Lake.  A glacial lake four kilometers south of Vernon, particularly known for its turquoise blue water due to crystals forming in the hot summer days that result in distinctive blue and green color.  The sandy Kal Beach roughly stretches 300m in length and 50m in width, includes a pier, and is a popular destination for swimming, picnicking and beach volleyball.  A concession stand is open during the summer months, and parking is conveniently located across the beach.

The entire Okanagan valley consists of many activities to do and places to visit, such as elegant wineries that display their ripe grapes in structured rows overlooking lakes; where wine tours are available at most wineries during the weekdays.  Other events such as various festivals and farmer’s markets are active on the weekends, where one can find sweet cream peaches among other local fruits.  U-pick is also available at most fruit orchards if you have the time and want the freshest pick.

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Published: October 21st, 2016

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