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Where to Go Camping and RVing in British Columbia

British Columbia offers breathtaking natural scenery, diverse wildlife, and numerous outdoor activities and cultural events including hiking, fishing, cycling, and attending farmers markets or museums.

Cabana Beach Campground, Osoyoos

For a first-time camper, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in nature, disconnect from technology, and experience the serenity of the wilderness but also enjoy some culture.

There are four types of camping experiences to choose from and they offer a mix of frontcountry and backcountry access. Frontcountry means an area within 1 km of a park road or a highway. Frontcountry campgrounds are accessible by vehicle, and they offer a range of amenities not available in more remote locations.  Backcountry campgrounds are still mainly vehicle accessible (some are hike in only) but usually on gravel or forestry roads and are more remote with limited facilities.

Choosing the right campsite and doing the research, you must consider factors such as location, amenities, scenery, and activities available. The map located on campingrvbc.com allows users to search and locate over 1,700 campgrounds offering unique camping experiences. Here is an overview of the opportunities.

Private RV Parks

In British Columbia, you can enjoy a variety of amenities at more than 400 of BC’s private sector RV parks/campgrounds that are well-maintained, accessible, and enjoyable for all levels of campers. 

British Columbia’s independently owned and operated campgrounds provide services and facilities to suit every lifestyle and budget. Whether you prefer a full-service site with electrical, water and sewer hook-up, a limited-service site with just electrical and/or water, or perhaps a basic site for your tent or tent-trailer, you will find lots to choose from throughout all regions of BC and within all the terrains that this stunning province has to offer. Camp by a lake, on a river, at the foot of a mountain, or under a canopy of tall trees in the forest, it’s all here in BC.

Williamson Lake Campground, Revelstoke

Glamping

Don’t have your own home away from home?  That is not a problem, as quite a few campgrounds offer “Glamping” – the opportunity to drive up in your own vehicle and rent an RV, Yurt or Cabin, or as some call it, “Ready to Camp units.”  Reservations are always recommended as this type of vacation is popular. Most private sector businesses offer online reservation capability and many allow bookings up to 12 months in advance.

Parks Canada (National Campgrounds)

Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. They operate seven national parks in British Columbia that offer camping, of which four have glamping oTENTiks.

oTENTik Parks Canada

A great option for beginners, frontcountry campgrounds may include:

  • washrooms with showers
  • kitchen shelters
  • electrical
  • water hookups
  • Wi-Fi access zones

Check first.

Parks Canada operates a reservation service that opens early in the new year but also has a selection of first-come-first-served campsites. Reservations are recommended as the demand is high in peak periods. National parks include: Kootenay National Park, Pacific Rim National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park.

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

BC Parks (Provincial Campgrounds)

If it’s more wilderness that you seek, then BC Parks, which has over 640 Provincial Parks with more than 10,000 Frontcountry campsites and approximately 2,000 walk-in or backcountry campsites, as well as 39 group campgrounds. (If you’re venturing into BC’s backcountry, ensure you camp safely and responsibly and refer to a backcountry guide for more information).

Rustic Recreational Sites

For a more rustic feel, then you will want to visit Recreational Sites & Trails BC (RSTBC) who provide public recreation opportunities through the development, maintenance and management of a network of recreation sites and trails throughout British Columbia. The BC Ministry of Tourism Culture and the Arts maintains more than 1,200 recreation campsites under this program.

Campertunity

Other Camping Opportunities

Campertunity is an online marketplace that showcases campsites for you to rent on private land throughout BC. There are also  opportunities to rent trailers, domes, yurts, and cabins.

Know the Camper’s Code

All campground operators have rules and a behaviour etiquette, but the industry has endorsed the Camper’s Code as an approach to develop a friendly camping culture.

The camper’s code has 9 rules that are really easy to follow.  When all campers follow them, camping is enjoyable for all, nature stays pristine, fellow campers become friends and animals stay wild and free. www.camperscode.com

Whatever you have for a first-time experience, take the time to sit and see the wildlife and listen to the sounds of camping, because “It’s always a great day to #CampinBC”.

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

To find camping accommodations throughout British Columbia go to https://www.campingrvbc.com/

Share your BC camping and travel photos at hashtag #campinbc

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

How to Respect and Observe Wildlife and Our Natural Surroundings with the BC Camper’s Code

The Camper’s Code is a health and safety initiative that has nine simple rules that are easy to follow. When outdoor enthusiasts respect the rules, camping continues to be enjoyable for all and nature remains pristine and animals stay wild. This blog explains: Respect Wildlife, Take Only Photos and Control Your Pets.

Respect Wildlife

Do not approach or feed wild animals

Getting close to and feeding wildlife can be detrimental to animals and birds, their survival, and even to you. Feeding is prohibited in many municipalities and parks in British Columbia and Canada, which means people can be fined.

Approaching wildlife (or allowing wildlife to come near you) causes them to stop being wary of people and can pose grave risks to humans and animals. Be aware that animals and birds can become stressed and/or defensive when humans are too close and can be protective of their young. Avoid noises or actions that might upset them.

Let wildlife forage for their own food and roam without an audience. Feeding wild animals and leaving food out (even accidentally) or not properly disposing of garbage, teaches animals that humans provide food.

Respect Wildlife – Use Binoculars to View | BC Parks

Observe from afar

If you wish to observe wildlife responsibly do so with a registered guide or from a safe distance (at least 30 metres for deer, moose and elk and 100 metres away from bears, coyotes, wolves, and cougars).

If you see wildlife beside a road while driving, slow down, stay inside the vehicle (both driver and passengers) and move on. Stopping or pulling over conditions animals into thinking that vehicles are nothing to be afraid of.

For more information, including viewing tips and guidelines, visit: BC Parks Wildlife Safety and Parks Canada Wildlife Watching.

Take Only Photos

Marvel at wildlife with cameras, binoculars and/or telephoto lenses but do not attempt any selfies or take photos of people with large or dangerous wildlife in the background. (A photo with a squirrel or chipmunk in behind—should it stay still enough—is a safer ‘photo op’.)

Take Only Photos | Glacier National Park, Parks Canada

Leave your drone behind. Drones disturb wildlife, disrupting their natural behaviour and risking injury; plus, they’re prohibited in many parks. Parks Canada has fines in the thousands of dollars for the use of drones.

Follow the basic rule: If it’s not yours, don’t take it. Leave natural and cultural objects undisturbed. This includes shells, mushrooms, flowers and even wood; if you transport wood from one campground to the next disease and bug infestations can be transferred.

Control Your Pets

We love our pets, and a lot of people go camping and RVing with them, but they can also contaminate trails, beaches and natural resources, annoy park visitors and negatively impact wildlife.

Control Your Pets | Parks Canada

Keep your pet(s) under control, obey the park or campground’s leash length policy and know where they’re allowed. Many parks are pet friendly and have off-leash areas so research this ahead of time. Be considerate of other campers and hikers, and other pets. Not all people or dogs, for instance, love all dogs. It’s for the safety of your own pets, fellow campers and local wildlife to control your own animal.

When it comes to pet waste, pick it up and pack it out every time. Not doing so is disrespectful to fellow campers and can pose a danger to other domestic animals and the wildlife.

For more information and guidelines on pets in parks visit the web pages Pets in BC Parks and Dogs in Parks Canada Protected Places.

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

The Camper’s Code is a collaborative campaign started in 2021 by a dozen BC-based organizations who believe deeply in the responsibility of every single person to create a safe, enjoyable, respectful camping experience for all—people, wildlife, and nature.

The Camper’s Code is comprised of nine easy-to-follow rules: Respect Wildlife, Take Only Photos, Control Your Pets, Store Food Safely, Don’t Litter, Practice Fire Safety and Plan Ahead and Be Prepared, Respect Others, Respect Staff and Signs.

For campgrounds and RV parks in BC go to the BC Camping Map.

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtags #CampinBC #explorebc #green #bcnice

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Follow the Camper’s Code and be a Responsible and Safe Camper

Store Food Safely, Don’t Litter and Practice Fire Safety are three of the nine easy-to-follow rules of the Camper’s Code. When outdoor enthusiasts abide by these rules, camping continues to be enjoyable for all, nature remains pristine and animals stay wild.

Store Food Safely | Parks Canada

Store Food Safely

Food and scented items can attract wild animals which can lead to personal injury and the wildlife being harmed, killed, or sadly, destroyed. It is therefore important to store all food in a wildlife-proof container or in a hard-sided vehicle or bear cache and to keep a bare campsite.

Never feed wildlife. WildSafeBC, run by the British Columbia Conservation Federation, has a webpage dedicated to species you may see or encounter in the province; educate yourself about them before camping or hiking.

BC Parks’ webpage Responsible Recreation lists guidelines on being safe and respectful adventurers and RVers can check out the Camping and RVing BC Coalition’s article on RV organization, which lists food and general storage tips.

Don’t Litter | Parks Canada

Don’t Litter

Littering is unacceptable, is uncool and can even pose a danger to wildlife and humans as it attracts wildlife and increases wildlife-human conflict.

Put all garbage and pet waste in marked waste bins in and around campgrounds, recreation sites, parks and beaches and recycle where possible. If there are no bins nearby make sure to ‘pack it out’—if it comes with you it should leave with you (this includes organic matter). Don’t treat the outhouses and firepits like garbage cans and, before leaving, return the campsite to the condition in which you found it—or better. If you smoke cigarettes or use cannabis properly dispose of the butts. Please be aware that smoking tobacco and cannabis, including e-cigarettes and vaping, are not permitted in BC Parks’ backcountry.

WildSafeBC’s webpage on WildSafe Camping has information on preventing conflict with wildlife via responsible camping, and the Camping and RVing BC Coalition has a noteworthy article on Camping Etiquette.

Practice Fire Safety | Parks Canada

Practice Fire Safety

Obey local and regional laws regarding campfires and pay attention to the risk of forest fires in the area in which you’ll be camping. You can prevent human-caused wildfires by practicing these three campfire safety rules:

Respect fire bans – Plain and simple, do not have a campfire if there is a campfire ban. In BC, there are three categories of fires that can be affected by restrictions: open fires, campfires and forest use.

Never leave a fire unattended – Only start a campfire in a designated fire pit or in a contained ring of rocks and build the campfire away from flammable items such as awnings, camp chairs and tree branches.

Put fires out completely – Fires must not be smoldering and should be cold to the touch, including the coals. Also, never leave food items cooking unattended, whether outside or inside of your trailer.

Do not throw matches, cigarettes or smoking materials from moving vehicles or on park/forest grounds and completely extinguish smoking materials in a proper receptacle or a can with water before disposal. If you’re camping and hiking and plan to smoke carry a pocket ashtray.

Some private campgrounds only permit propane fires at all times and have a no wood burning policy, while others allow charcoal and wood burning; verify this with the campground office or on its website.

To keep abreast of fire bans and restrictions, including campfire bans, please visit the BC Wildfire Service or call toll-free: 1 (888) 3FOREST / 1 (888) 336-7378. To report a forest fire or unattended fire in British Columbia call *5555 on your mobile phone or toll-free: 1 (800) 663-5555.

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

For more information on fire safety read the Camping and RVing BC Coalition articles on campfires in BC and wildfire prevention tips.

Check out the video below and make sure to take the Camper’s Code Pledge!

The Camper’s Code is a collaborative campaign started in 2021 by a dozen BC-based organizations who believe deeply in the responsibility of every single person to create a safe, enjoyable, respectful camping experience for all—people, wildlife and nature.

The Camper’s Code is comprised of nine easy-to-follow rules: Respect Wildlife, Take Only Photos, Control Your Pets, Store Food Safely, Don’t Litter, Practice Fire Safety and Plan Ahead and Be Prepared, Respect Others and Respect Staff and Signs.

For campgrounds and RV parks in BC go to the BC Camping Map.

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtags #CampinBC #explorebc

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Be a Respectful Camper and Practice the Camper’s Code

The Camper’s Code is a health and safety initiative comprised of nine easy-to-follow rules. When outdoor enthusiasts abide by these rules camping continues to be enjoyable for all, nature remains pristine and animals stay wild. Let’s examine three of these rules: Plan Ahead and Be Prepared, Respect Others and Respect Staff and Signs.

Camper’s Code Pledge Sticker | BC Parks

Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

Anything can happen in wild spaces or en route to them so have a plan, even if you’re car camping or going somewhere easily accessible. Stay safe by adhering to the ‘Three Ts’: Trip Planning, Training and Taking the Essentials. By following these easy steps campers, hikers and other outdoor adventurers will significantly improve their chances of survival should they become lost or distressed.

  • Trip Plan

Decide where you’re going and how long for and give the plan to someone you trust in case of an emergency or if they don’t hear from you. This way they can better assist search and rescue authorities. Read the Camping and RVing BC Coalition’s (CRVBCC) Know Before You Go webpage which has essential information on travel resources, alerts and news.

  • Train (and know your limits)

Obtain the knowledge and skills you need for the terrain you’re embarking on. Know and stay within your limits; unprepared people can get into sticky situations! When hiking, factor in descentsmany slips and falls occur when legs are tired. AdventureSmart offers the Survive Outside – A Guide to Outdoor Safety program where participants learn about search and rescue in their region, and the Three Ts.

Plan Ahead & Be Prepared | BC Parks
  • Take the Essentials

No matter the length of your camping adventure, always pack the essentials and know how to use them. Add other equipment specific to your chosen activity, season and location. Recommended items are:

  • Flashlight/headlamp and extra batteries.
  • Fire-making kit (including waterproof matches/lighter and fire starter) and a reliable pocketknife; a knife can be an important survival tool. It is important to practice making a fire and know how to start one in wet weather.
  • Signalling device (whistle or mirror) and GPS device. Signalling mirrors have been spotted from rescue planes over 8 kms away!
  • Extra food and water; factor in 1 litre of extra water per person in case of emergency. Pack high energy items such as granola bars.
  • Extra clothing (rain, wind and water protection and toque or warm hat) and wear layers should clothes get wet. Invest in a good rain jacket and a long sleeve that wicks away sweat. (Remember that wherever you are in Canada or British Columbia the weather can change quickly while you are camping or hiking, particularly at altitude.)
  • Navigation/communication devices (GPS, etc.), trail map(s) and compass with magnifier.
  • First aid kit, bug spray and antihistamine and sun protection. Understand how to use the items in the kit or better yet, take a first aid course.
  • Emergency blanket and shelter, such as a rain tarp
  • Seasonal and sport-specific gear, including decent sunglasses.

For additional camping tips, including how to build a campfire, visit the CRVBCC’s Camping Tips webpage.

For more information on the Three Ts visit AdventureSmart, Canada’s national outdoor recreational activity prevention program for Canadians and visitors to Canada.

Respect Others | BC Parks

Respect Others

Some people go camping for exploration or quests of inner solitude, while others go for outdoor activities, campfires songs and family fun. Whatever the reason, respect your camping neighbours by keeping noise levels low and adhering to posted quiet hours. Follow these unwritten rules to be a respectful camper:

  • If you are arriving extra early or leaving late, turn down car high beams and car radio/music. Remember that sounds carry outdoors so try to keep voices and music down within reason, both late at night/early in the morning.
  • If you smoke cigarettes or use cannabis, dispose of the butts in a responsible manner. Be mindful of nearby campsites as not everyone appreciates the smell of cannabis!
  • Don’t cut through campsites.
  • Before leaving, return your campsite to the condition in which you found itor better.

For further reading, the Camping and RVing BC Coalition has an informative article on Camping Etiquette.

Respect Staff & Signs | Glacier National Park, Parks Canada

Respect Staff and Signs

Staff and signage exist in campgrounds to help and keep campers and hikers safe, and we should adhere to their guidance. Staff have been trained to make your vacation enjoyable and they’re a great resource for information and tips. Remember to be patient at check-in and check-out times as these are the busiest hours and follow any COVID-19 guidelines.

Educate yourself regarding campground or recreation site rules prior to (via a website) or upon arrival and observe and obey posted speed limits. Watch for pedestrians and cyclists and park in designated areas only. Be mindful that many children feel liberated while camping and will often zigzag on bikes and race to playgrounds. Do not drive over vegetation.

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

Check out the video below and make sure to take the Camper’s Code Pledge!

The Camper’s Code is a collaborative campaign started in 2021 by a dozen BC-based organizations who believe deeply in the responsibility of every single person to create a safe, enjoyable, respectful camping experience for all—people, wildlife, and nature.

The Camper’s Code is comprised of nine easy to follow rules: Respect Wildlife, Take only Photos, Control Your Pets, Store Food Safely, Don’t Litter, Practice Fire Safety, Plan Ahead and Be Prepared, Respect Others, Respect Staff and Signs. Other rules will be covered in future blogs.

For campgrounds & RV parks in BC go to the BC Camping Map.

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc #explorebc #green #bcnice

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Published: April 28th, 2022

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