Province wide campfire bans in place, Campers know before you go camping.

Kayaking Bowron Lake, Cariboo. Photo BC Parks

Boating and Other Watersports are Popular in British Columbia

Does floating along in a kayak on the quiet waters of a sheltered cove appeal to you? Or, is experiencing the thrill of whitewater rafting or dancing on the wake of a boat on water skis more your style? Perhaps you enjoy the flap of the sails on the open water, or the oneness of paddleboarding.

With over 25,000 inland lakes and thousands of kilometers of rivers, plus close to 27,000 kilometers of coastline in BC, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to water activities. The region’s diverse and natural beauty provides a stunning backdrop for an abundance of boating opportunities, and if you combine your boating and watersports with a camping trip you are set for a fun-filled vacation.

Boating near Sayward. Photo: Picture BC/Province of British Columbia
Boating near Sayward | Picture BC/Province of British Columbia

Boat Licensing and Regulations

All motorized boats (over 10hp) are required to be licensed. For details go to Transport Canada.

In order to operate a power-driven boat in Canada, individuals must be 16 years of age or over and hold a Canadian Boating License or  Proof of Competency indicating they understand the rules of the water and how to safely operate a boat. This applies whether the boat is owned or rented. Restrictions are in place for persons under the age of 16.

Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide is a comprehensive guide to boating in BC and Canada. Foreign recreational boaters can find information here.

Whitewater Rafting on Nahatlach River, Boston Bar. Photo: Destination BC/Reo Rafting Ryan Robinson
Whitewater Rafting on Nahatlach River, Boston Bar | Destination BC/Reo Rafting Ryan Robinson

Boating Equipment and Safety

Certain safety equipment is required no matter the type of pleasure craft. This includes a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or Lifejacket for each person. Watertight flashlight, bailer and flares are also required. Review the relevant section in the Safe Boating Guide produced by Transport Canada.

Wind and storms can spring up at any time. Ensure you have a way of communicating with emergency services should the need arise.

Nautical charts can provide locations of various obstacles to look out for such as low bridges and underground cables. Be alert and watch for large vessels such as ferries, tugs and floatplanes. Take a compass with you.  And be aware of swimmers, divers and water skiers.

There are certain areas where no boats, or only non-motorized boats, are allowed and there are other restrictions on some lakes and waterways in BC. Watch for the appropriate signs including (but not limited to): 1) No gas or diesel engines 2) Maximum Speed 3) Power Limit 4) No boats.

Protect yourself and obtain insurance. For larger vessels, marine insurance is required, for smaller pleasure craft you may be able to add to your home insurance policy.

Other Useful Information

Camping & RV in BC has a google map that shows where all the private campgrounds, provincial parks, national parks and recreation sites are and each listing indicates whether they are on the water, have a marina, boat rentals and more.

Read blogs on the Camping & RV in BC website that highlight some of our visitor’s favourite places for boating and water activities.

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

For place to camp in British Columbia go to the Camping Map

For more information, visit:

Ahoy BC
BC Coastal Marine Parks

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

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

The Chilliwack River Valley: An Outdoor Enthusiast’s Paradise

Chilliwack River Valley - Ken Bramble

Chilliwack River Valley – Ken Bramble

About one and a half hours east from Vancouver International Airport is one of the Lower Mainland’s best kept secrets, one which is an outdoor adventurers’ dream. Want world class fishing for steelhead trout and a variety of salmon? Got it. Rapids ranging from class 2 to 5 for the whitewater rafting rookie or experienced kayaking enthusiast? Check. A range of hikes from family-friendly afternoon jaunts to technically challenging overnighters? Affirmative. Camping destinations for relaxed RVers, summer long-weekend tenters, and backcountry machete-wielders? Absolutely. When it comes to outdoor destinations, the Chilliwack River Valley has it all. But don’t tell anyone…the locals are trying hard to keep it a secret!

Fishing near Vedder River campground

Fishing Near Vedder River Campground

With its origins in the mountains of Washington State’s North Cascades National Park, the Chilliwack River makes its way north into Canada and eventually the Chilliwack Lake. From the lake’s northern end, the river snakes mostly west for many kilometers before it meets up with the Sweltzer River and then the Sumas River before flowing into the mighty Fraser River. On a technical note, shortly after joining forces with the Sweltzer, the Chilliwack passes under the Vedder Bridge and its’ name changes to the Vedder River.

Regardless of its name, the Chilliwack/Vedder River is well known to anglers from around the Lower Mainland, the province, and even internationally. A veritable rainbow of salmon species – coho, chum, pink, white chinook, and sockeye can be caught here between the months of July and early December. The river is also home to various types of trout, including rainbow, coastal cutthroat, and steelhead, which is renowned as one of the most difficult-to-catch freshwater sportfish. Those hungry for the challenge of steelhead can put their angling skills to the test between January and April or July to early September. Be sure to obtain a proper license for the type of fish you’re hoping to hook! If you are going to camp in the area too there are a good selection of private campgrounds, provincial parks and recreation sites. More information at Where to Camp.

Chilliwack River Fishing

Fishing on Chilliwack River

If the idea of landing a 30-lb chinook salmon doesn’t thrill you, perhaps racing down the Chilliwack River in a raft or kayak would be enough to take your breath away. Local companies offer a range of trips for anyone from the rafting rookie to the whitewater junkie (from class 2 to 4+ on the whitewater scale). Perhaps you’d rather challenge the river on your own – try kayaking. There are appropriate sections for newbies, while experienced kayakers can test their skills at the famous Tamihi Rapids, Canada’s only class 5 training course and a common site for the training of our national Olympic kayaking team. By the way, the official whitewater classification system maxes out at Class 6, which is the type of water you don’t want to even attempt to navigate in a floating object (i.e. Hell’s Gate).

Camping at Lindeman Lake

Camping at Lindeman Lake

For those who feel more comfortable on “terra firma”, the Chilliwack River Valley still has plenty to offer.  Easier, flat walks can be found west of the Vedder Bridge at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve (several hikes ranging up to 5 km return) or the Vedder River Trails (the Vedder Rotary Trail is 8 km one way).  At the east end of the valley from Vedder Bridge is access to more moderate hikes.  The Lindeman Lake Hike is a well maintained trail that winds through forest for 3.4 km (return) with a modest 215m elevation gain before terminating at a peaceful alpine lake where wooden camping platforms are available for those who want to stay overnight.  The longer-winded among us may want to carry on a further 3.5 km and gain another 150m in elevation to visit Greendrop Lake.

View from Mt MacFarlane Summit

View from Mt MacFarlane Summit

Meanwhile, the hardier, more adventurous trekker can put their legs and lungs to the test on the way up Mount MacFarlane.  This trail will have you climbing 2,016 m over the course of 17 km out and back, but the inspiring scenery includes massive Douglas Firs, a couple of pristine lakes, and a summit with a panoramic view of snow-capped peaks that is incomparable.

Once you’ve conquered Mount MacFarlane, there are many other challenging hikes and illustrious summits to reach in the Chilliwack River Valley area. Did I mention there’s a lot to do here? If you love the outdoors, this is a place you must visit. But be careful…you might just decide you never want to leave!

For information on camping and RVing in British Columbia go to

Published: October 10th, 2017

Connect With Us