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Discovering Camping in British Columbia in the Fall Season

It’s time to bring out the sweaters and store the flip flops! The fall season is a perfect time to avoid the crowds and explore BC while camping. In the shoulder season, Provincial Parks and private campgrounds usually have space available, allowing you to be spontaneous in where you camp.

CanaDream Rents RVs to Suit Any Size Family | Photo: S. Clark

My husband Allan and I took a 1,500 km trip through BC a few years ago (pre COVID), with a 24ft RV rented from CanaDream.  We “loosely” followed Highway 3 from the Vancouver area, up north on Highway 6, and ending by following Route 97 south until we hit Highway 3 again. This route gave us amazing variety in the landscapes we saw. In the morning we might cross a high mountain pass surrounded by majestic evergreens. By lunchtime we were in the Okanagan area, surrounded by bald hills and semi-arid desert. The majority of roads had little traffic, so we enjoyed pleasant drives each day.  

Fort Camping is a Short Walk or Bike Ride to the Fort to Fort Trail | Photo: S. Clark

We started the trip by spending two nights at Fort Camping in Fort Langley. The campground location was ideal for having a level campsite with clean restrooms. A short stroll brought us to the charming town of Fort Langley with more options for restaurants, boutiques and ice cream shops than was possible to explore. Since we had our bikes, we enjoyed taking the Fort to Fort Trail, a paved path off the main road. Naturally one end of that trail ended at Fort Langley National Historic Site, a chance to step back in time.

Since we had a flexible schedule, we could discover some hidden attractions along the way. One of our favourite spots was the Grist Mill in Keremeos, 47 km (29 miles) northwest of Osoyoos. Because of the heavy rain, we needed our umbrellas but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the site. A cozy café offered Grist Mill cookies and scones, while the outdoor displays gave insight into how the belts and gears coordinated to grind local wheat into flour.

Grist Mill in Keremeos Offers Gardens, Cafe & Restored Water Wheel | Photo: S. Clark

The Kettle River Museum in Midway packs a large amount of history in a small space. We explored the actual KVR Station, part of the legendary Kettle River Railway. The museum offers a look at how people lived before electricity and motors. You can even tour the last caboose from the railroad line.

A highlight of the trip was driving through the Okanagan valley and seeing all the fruit stands. It seemed as if there was a competition going on as to who could make the most elaborate pumpkin displays. We’d stop at one stand to buy apples and admire the pumpkins. 10 minutes later we’d stop to buy corn because we were attracted to another pumpkin display.

A Pumpkin Display in the Okanagan | Photo: S. Clark

Our route also took us past numerous wineries…many, many wineries! The Kelowna area alone has five designated wine routes. Just follow the signs which are displayed along the road. Most signs give the name of the winery as well as how far it is off the road. Some places offer wine tours where you relax on a bus while going from one winery to another. No need to select a designated driver!

Kekuli Bay Provincial Park | Photo: S. Clark

Our favourite campground was Kekuli Bay Provincial Park south of Vernon. Almost every campsite has an amazing view overlooking Kalamalka Lake. It’s worth getting up early to see the sunrises. The Okanagan Rail Trail is a designated bike and hike path that goes directly through the campground. We did a 20-mile ride that goes right next to the shore. Best of all, the trail is flat!

Nikkei Internment Centre, New Denver | Photo: S. Clark

We saw a small sign for the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre near New Denver in the Kootenay Rockies and decided to stop. It is the only site in Canada dedicated to telling the story of the 22,000 people of Japanese descent that were interned in Canada. We toured the actual 14ft by 28ft “shacks” that housed two families with up to six children each. The centre also has displays of clothing, furniture, and a peace garden and communal bath house. A sobering yet very informative place to stop.

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Our road trip through BC only scratched the surface. We didn’t get to explore Vancouver Island or gawk at the astonishing hoodoos in the East Kootenays. We did get to experience camping in Provincial Parks and privately-owned campgrounds, meeting other campers along the way. Those we stayed at are listed below. Now we’re planning our next route to check out even more that BC offers!

Fort Camping – Fort Langley
Cottonwoods Meadows RV Country Club – Chilliwack
Hazelmere RV Park – Surrey
Kekuli Bay Provincial Park – Vernon
Brookvale Holiday Resort – Osoyoos
Kootenay River RV Park – Castlegar
Sugar Lake 2 Mile – Cherryville

For other campgrounds in the area or elsewhere in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

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It’s always a great day to #campinbc.

Exploring History in New Denver, British Columbia

Not only is B.C. wild and beautiful, it’s rich in history too. Last summer we took a road trip through the Kootenay Rockies region, hoping to get a taste of some of the wildest camping Canada has to offer.

Along our route, between major stops Nelson and Revelstoke, we decided to explore the area around New Denver. We had heard of a ghost town in Sandon.

Arriving at New Denver, BC

Historic Sandon

Just 13 kilometers east of New Denver lies Sandon. The town is lovingly preserved by its residents––which you can pretty much count on one hand!

A good place to start your tour is The Prospector’s Pick which functions as the Visitor’s Centre and Gift Shop. With any luck you’ll get to meet Vida Turok, a Sandon resident, while taking a look at the memorabilia and vintage collectibles. Vida is warm and friendly, and will tell you all about the town of Sandon. Those of you with a heart for adventure will connect with her adventurous spirit. She moved to Sandon after falling in love with the town while on a 100 days hike through B.C.

Brill Trolley Interpretive Display

After picking up some ice-cream, or a hot coffee, take a look at the Brill Trolley Interpretive Display. These vintage buses from cities like Vancouver, Calgary, and Saskatoon found a permanent home at Sandon when they proved popular with visitors. Now you can tour the inside of Trolley #2201 during season.

Silversmith Powerhouse, Sandon, BC

As you continue down the path and up the hill you’ll see Sandon’s crown jewel, the Silversmith Power & Light Generating Station. It’s been operating since 1897, and today still runs 24 hours a day, providing green energy for Sandon and New Denver. Impressively, all of the machinery is original and it’s family-owned and operated.

At its height as a booming silver town, Sandon, was a state-of-the-art city with a population of 5,000. It was the first town in B.C. with the capability to provide electric power to every citizen. Today this hydroelectric power station is the first utility in B.C. to receive federal green hydroelectric certification.

You can round out your tour with a look at the Steam Locomotive and a visit to the Museum. The museum is the only attraction that is not free at $5 admission.

Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre

During its decline, Sandon served as a Japanese Canadian Internment Camp during WWII. We learned more about this period in history at New Denver’s Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre.

There is an admission fee of $9 per adult to tour this National Historic Site. In fact, it’s the only site in all of Canada where you can learn about this part of WWII history.

In 1942, 22,000 Japanese-Canadian citizens were forced from their homes along the coast of B.C. and relocated to internment camps. As you tour this National Historic Site you are actually walking through what once was The Orchard internment camp.

Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, New Denver, BC

You can get a sense of what life was like under those conditions walking through the 14’ x 28’ shack that usually housed 2 families. One side shows you the conditions the Japanese families would have found it in, while the other side shows you what it looked like once it was inhabited.

As you exit the different halls holding artifacts, you’ll walk through the beautiful Peace Garden.

We love experiencing history on our travels, and in the New Denver area we found what almost feels like a forgotten history to explore. And, though sad, it was interesting to find a connection between Sandon and the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre in New Denver.

Planning Your Perfect Itinerary

You can enjoy some epic camping and the historic sites above over a weekend. You can explore Sandon in the morning and New Denver in the afternoon on one day. And enjoy hiking and relaxing at your campsite on day 2. Depending on where you’re traveling from, you can also make this part of a larger BC road trip, adding in stops in Nelson, Revelstoke, and hot springs around the area.

Box Lake Recreation Site near Nakusp

When to Go: Between Victoria Day and Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving is the 2nd Monday in October).

Visiting between these dates gives you access to all there is to do at Sandon and some of the best hiking weather. However, winter camping is definitely a thing in B.C., and some of Sandon is open and/or available by appointment in the winter.

Summit Lake Provincial Park near Nakusp

Where to Stay: Be sure to check out Camping & RV in BC’s Campground Map here. We typed in New Denver and set the search radius to 50km to really get a full picture of what’s around. We chose to stay about 30 minutes from New Denver. Our favorites were Summit Lake Provincial Park and we completely fell in love with serene, waterfront Box Lake Recreation Site both near Nakusp.

Road Trip Time: For those of you making your way from Spokane or Kelowna, you’re roughly 4 hours to adventure and history. Heading in from Calgary? Plan on about 6 hours of drive time. Friends in Vancouver and Seattle, you’re about an 8-hour drive away. Note: During 2020 the border is closed to travel between the United States and Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

For campgrounds in the Nakusp. New Denver and Sandon areas as well as elsewhere throughout British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC camping and travel pictures using hashtags #campinbc, #explorebc and #BCNice.

Soaking it up at Lussier Hot Springs, Kootenay Rockies, BC

This year we set out to explore as many hot springs in the Kootenays as we could squeeze into a four-day road trip. We started with Radium and Fairmont in the East Kootenay area and finished up with Ainsworth and Halcyon, both in the West Kootenays. All of these are developed hot springs, but one that we had at the top of our list was Lussier Hot Springs. These natural springs are located in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park. Back in the early 1990s we lived in Windermere, just south of Invermere, so this was a place we visited often and always loved it.

To get to Lussier, head south from Invermere (on Highway 93/95) and just south (4.5 kilometres) of Canal Flats, turn east onto the Whiteswan Forest Service Road. Be super careful on the road as this is an active logging area and the big trucks come up and down pretty fast. The gravel road was easily accessible with my little Mazda 3 but would definitely recommend a 4×4 in the winter. Just past kilometre 17, you will see the parking lot for the hot springs on the right side of the road.

Trail to Lussier Hot Springs | Photo: C. Stathers

There is a short hike down to the hot springs from the parking lot/outhouses. The trail is not difficult but it may be a bit steep for anyone with mobility issues. New, since we used to come in the early 90s, are the outhouses which double as change rooms. Depending on the time of the year, you may find that you have the hot springs to yourself and other times it can be quite busy. This trip we met a family from Holland exploring the area.

One of the Hot Springs Pools | Photo: C. Stathers

As you get close to the river, you will pick up on the sulfur smell which is common to most natural springs. There are three pebble bottom pools, with the hottest pool being further away from the creek. I can remember going there in the winter; it is absolutely beautiful to see the steaming water with the snowy background. If it’s cold, it does not take long for ice crystals to form on your hair and if you are really brave, you can take a dip in the frigid Lussier River. This trip, we did not dip in the river; it was a beautiful warm day, so the pool closest to the river was comfortable enough to stay in; whereas in the winter, it is pretty cold. If you look closely, you can see the hot bubbling water flowing into the pools from between the rocks.

Relaxing in the Hot Springs | Photo: C. Stathers

If you continue on the forest service road to kilometre 25, you will find Whiteswan Provincial Park with the beautiful Whiteswan and Alces lakes. Reservations are not available but there are 114 campsites located at the five campgrounds either along the river or lake.

Alces Lake which is the closest to Lussier at kilometre 21, is a good lake for swimming and fishing for rainbow trout, with 28 sites, pit toilets and lakefront sites. The other campgrounds are located at Packrat Point, Inlet Creek, White River and Home Basin.

Lussier Hot Springs | Photo: C. Stathers

Another beautiful area is the remote Top of the World Provincial Park, with the trail-head at kilometre 52. We have done some amazing hikes in this area.

After your visit to Lussier, if you are still looking for more hot springs, check out the Radium Hot Springs about 45 minutes north and Fairmont Hot Springs about 30 minutes north on Highway 93/95, both worth a visit.

For campgrounds and RV parks in the Kootenay Rockies and elsewhere in British Columbia go the Camping Map.

Share your BC camping pictures using hashtag #campinbc.

5 BC Places to Visit for Outdoor Fun and Winter Camping

If you thought that camping and RVing was devoted solely to those months without snow, you would be wrong. British Columbia is fast becoming a destination for RVing and camping, particularly with those who live in colder climes. Here are five fun things to do and places to camp in BC’s winter months.

Winter Activities On British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast

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

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. Read more.

Five Spots to Ice Fish and Camp this Winter in British Columbia

Photo Courtesy of Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC
Photo Courtesy of Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC

Ice fishing is often overlooked as a winter activity, especially if you live in southern B.C.  But fishing opportunities do not stop when the temperature freezes – they only get more exciting. Ice fishing is a very social sport and requires only a limited amount of gear or experience. The entire lake becomes accessible without the need of a boat and you don’t need the often complicated casting techniques required in other fisheries. It’s as simple as drilling a hole and dropping a line. Try some winter camping while you’re at it; there are many parks open year-round close to great hard water lakes. Here are our top 5 spots to try ice fishing this winter with RV spots close by. Read more.

Winter RV Adventure for Camping Newbies at Sunshine Valley & Manning Park, BC

Tobogganing at Manning Park

If only we had known how amazing RVing in the winter is, we would have taken this trip a long time ago! Our journey started in earnest on a Wednesday morning when we had made arrangements to pick up a rental RV from CanaDream. We had already checked in online five days before, uploaded required documents and information, paid our deposit and reviewed demo videos so we knew all about the RV we were renting before we arrived. Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff who checked that all of our details were in order and then my husband and I did a thorough walk-through of the unit. Read more.

5 Ways to Enjoy Winter in Wine Country, Okanagan, British Columbia

SilverStar Mountain Resort. Photo Credit Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson
Silver Star Mountain Resort. Photo Credit Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

As cooler temperatures emerge, and the snow blankets the vineyards, the valley transforms from a sun-soaked paradise to the ultimate winter destination. From champagne powder to frozen waterfalls to theatrical sleigh ride shows, the winter can be a magical time to explore the Okanagan. Read more.

Vancouver Island, BC Off-Season Adventures

Ocean View Skiing at Mt. Washington, BC
Ocean View Skiing at Mt. Washington, BC

‘Canada’s Mediterranean’, is how I like to refer to Central Vancouver Island. It offers more year-round outdoor recreational opportunities in mind-blowing scenery than I’ll ever have time to enjoy in one lifetime. But I’m trying – and the best part is that so many activities are absolutely free!

To get you started let me give you just a couple of very different ‘cool season’ activities on different parts of the Island, along with two fantastic year-round RV parks located close to each mini adventure. Read more.

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For places to camp in BC in the winter go to winter camping.

Share your BC  travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Hidden Waterways in British Columbia for the Hiker

There are many hidden waterways in British Columbia which offer some of the lesser known places to cool off in the water during the summer. Here are highlights of a few of the best waterways to cool off for the avid hiker.

Vancouver Island Bay off Juan de Fuca Trail by Ikiwaner

Vancouver Island Bay off Juan de Fuca Trail by Ikiwaner

Vancouver Island

San Josef Bay

Anyplace you can only reach by boat, foot, or helicopter is always less crowded, and this is one of those spots. Nestled on the northwestern point of Vancouver Island, San Josef Bay is the part of the Cape Scott Provincial Park that will most appeal to avid hikers and others who love adventure. Only 2.5 km long, it is approximately 45 minutes each way and is fun for the whole family.

The Juan de Fuca Trail

We know, that’s not a waterway! But if you hike the Juan de Fuca trail you’ll be wandering the west coast of Vancouver Island from Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew to China Beach west of Jordan River, hitting some of the best beaches along the way. You can camp out along the way too, so pack enough for several days. This trail is a wilderness trail and many sections are not for the faint of heart.

Vancouver Area

Lynn Headwaters Regional Park by Philippe Giabbanelli

Lynn Headwaters Regional Park by Philippe Giabbanelli

Norvan Falls Trail

This 12 kilometer round trip hike is part of the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Lynn Canyon itself is a popular spot, but the Norvan Falls Trail makes its way through an old forestry area and is easily missed. You are likely to see more rusting carts and abandoned tools from the old logging days than groups of people on this trail, and it is very peaceful. After you make it across the steel suspension bridge, you know you’ve almost reached Norvan Falls.

Okanagan

BX Falls near Vernon by Andrew Enns

BX Falls near Vernon by Andrew Enns

BX Creek and Falls

This is a great day trip, whether you’re interested in enjoying the scenic natural beauty of the Vernon area, enjoy some gold rush history, or just hoping to cool off in the wilderness. This hike takes you through a wade in a waterfall pool and into the cool canyon filled with firs, ferns, cottonwoods, cedars, and birch.

Kootenay Rockies

Lake O’Hara by GeoffL

Lake O’Hara by GeoffL

Lake O’Hara

This is a reservations only spot for campers in Yoho National Park, and it’s not so easy to find. Hike in from the trailhead which is about 12 kilometers east of Field. Making a reservation at the campground is necessary as there are only 30 campsites, but the stunning natural beauty of the emerald lake and the remote trails winding through the forests are worth it. “Yoho” itself means awe and wonder in Cree, if that tells you anything.

Northern British Columbia – Yellowhead Highway 16

Ancient Forest

Ancient Forest

Ancient Forest, Fraser River, McBride

If a quiet hike next to a winding river through a thousand-year-old cedar forest sounds like a hidden gem to you, we agree, and this is a perfect spot for you. The Fraser River and the ancient forest next to it is on the route to McBride about 113 kilometers east of Prince George. There’s no fanfare here, just a sign off Highway 16 that’s easily missed that will take you to the trailhead parking area. The Ancient Forest Trail is only 2.5 kilometers long and wheelchair accessible, but with untouched growth of trees up to 16 meters around, it’s definitely worth a hike.

Nechako Reservoir, Quanchus Range, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park

You might want to skip the two popular hiking areas in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, the Hunlen Falls/Turner Lake Chain and the Rainbow Range Trail. Instead, check out the truly remote north half of the park, in the Quanchus Range. You can only access this portion of the park by float plane, as it is nearly surrounded by the Nechako Reservoir, ensuring that it stays hidden from most. And remember, you need to either have a professional guide or be completely self-sufficient to hack the Quanchus Range.

Queen Charlotte Islands

East Beach Trail, Haida Gwaii

The remote East Beach Trail, in Naikoon Provincial Park on Haida Gwaii is 90 kilometers long, a 4 to 6 day moderate level hike winding along the eastern shoreline of Graham Island. For the best weather, move from Tlell in the south up to Tow Hill near Masset in the north. Expect rain, wind, and the need to cross rivers—and watch out for black bears! If you need them you’ll find several shelters along the way.

Northern British Columbia – Alaska Highway 97

Muncho Lake by Kelly Donaldson

Muncho Lake by Kelly Donaldson

Mineral Licks Trail, Muncho Lake

One of the easier hikes on this list, you’ll still get stunning views, lots of wildlife, and gorgeous Muncho Lake following the Mineral Licks Trail. This short two-hour hike covers about 1.3 kilometers in a loop. Watch for animals including sheep licking the rocks and soil for the minerals in them.

Conclusion

Have we sold you on hiking some of BC’s lesser known spots yet? There are so many hidden adventures here to discover and enjoy. If you love hiking in the wilderness but hate the summer crowds, one of these great trips might be perfect for you. Watch for our next installment in the hidden gem waterways series on the best hidden spots for the wildlife enthusiast.

Go to Hidden Gem Waterways for Fishing in British Columbia for the first installment.

Published: July 14th, 2016

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