Know Before You Go Camping in British Columbia.  Looking to plan your stay - map it today!

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:

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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Travel the Stunning Stewart-Cassiar/Highway 37 in Northern BC

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway is 724 km of stunning scenery in British Columbia’s north. My husband and I took our time exploring this amazing area from the Yukon border in the north, to Kitwanga in the south and over to Stewart and Hyder, Alaska.

Boya Lake, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern British Columbia
Paddling on Boya Lake, Northern British Columbia | Photo: B. Rees

Our favourite provincial park on the entire trip was Boya Lake, 87 km from the Yukon border. It’s far away from traffic noise, WIFI, and when it’s full it’s still quiet. Boya Lake itself is clear aquamarine with a white glacial silt bottom and 24 of the 44 sites are snugged up to its shore. Even so we didn’t expect to find a lakefront site so I could hardly contain my excitement before jumping out with the dogs and yelling, “Honey, I’m home.” A loon added its mournful call. Aah, four days of being lost in nature.

Boya Lake, Northern BC sunset
Sunset at Boya Lake, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

A stay at Boya wouldn’t be complete without canoeing. No motors are allowed on the lake but canoes are available. With the first dip of the paddle, all my cares disappeared. For me, this is a spiritual place. My days began with tea in a china teacup, watching the squirrels and listening to the loons. They ended with the Master painter sweeping peach and mauve sunsets over the lake. If you want a true getaway, this is the place to go and the only thing wrong with Boya Lake …the stay is never long enough.

pieces of jade at Jade City
Pieces of Jade at Jade City | Photo: B. Rees

Jade City is a fascinating place to stop. They offer travellers free overnight camping, WIFI, and coffee. The family that runs it has been mining jade since the 70s and it’s part of the reality show, “Jade Fever.” Watch them cutting jade outside for sale. I bought a small slab for an RV cutting board. The store has a dizzying selection of jade, rocks and gems.

The main hub for travellers fueling up and getting supplies is Dease Lake. It’s also the jumping-off point for paddlers on the Dease River or adventurers going to Telegraph Creek.

Tatogga Lake Resort, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern BC
Tatogga Lake Resort, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

We were welcomed by a stuffed moose in the dining room of the Tatogga Lake Resort, an interesting log building that resembles a museum inside. There’s a one-ton jade boulder by the fuel pumps although they aren’t always open. It’s mainly a seaplane base for tours into the mountains.

South of Tatogga is Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park with 50 sites in a well-looked-after park beside the lake.

We followed the glacial blue waters of the Nigunsaw River before crossing the Bell Irving River bridge to stop at Bell 2 Lodge. Though they principally cater to heliskiers in the winter, during the summer travellers can stay in chalets, the lodge or at the campground. It has 10 full-service sites plus 3 dry camps. There is a restaurant and fuel.

Fall at Meziadin Lake
Fall at Meziadin Lake, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

A gorgeous green lake welcomed us to Meziadin Lake Provincial Park where we camped overnight. They have 66 sites, some with power but no sani-dump and we were lucky to get a spot.

Waterfalls veil near Stewart
Waterfall Veils on Road to Stewart | Photo: B. Rees

No trip would be complete without taking the road from the Meziadian junction to Stewart and Hyder, Alaska. It’s a photographer’s dream. Prepare to be wowed as glaciers drape the towering mountains, and waterfalls plunge from the tops. We pulled in where a waterfall broke up into a myriad of veils. Bear Glacier flows blue from the mountain to a lake beside the road.

Stewart stores and cars
Stewart, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

Stewart is nestled at the foot of glacier-topped Stewart Mountain, on Portland Canal. We stayed in full-service Bear River RV Park.  There is a beautiful boardwalk over the estuary. Heritage buildings and funky storefronts make up the main street. Stay a few days and take a trip to Hyder, Alaska.

Bear at Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, Northern BC
Bear at Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

Crossing an unguarded border we drove into Hyder that looks like the old west. Remember, just because you crossed into the USA without being questioned, you still deal with the border guards coming back into Canada. Get Hyderized at the old Glacier Inn. Visit Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site for safe bear watching from the boardwalk. We went along 25 km of rough gravel road, sometimes one-lane, up the mountains to see Salmon Glacier. What a breathtaking sight but it cost us a tire. A tire guy drives around Stewart in his truck fixing tires!

Salmon Glacier, Northern BC
Salmon Glacier, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

After we left Meziadin we stopped at Gitanyow – the Land of the Totems. At one time they had more original totems than anywhere else. Kitwanga village was our home for the night. We visited Gitwangak Battle Hill Historic Site where from the top of the hill tribes fought rivals.

Summing up the Stewart-Cassiar trip my advice would be to prepare for driving through the wilderness, allow plenty of time to explore and learn the history.

Fuel stops from Kitwanga are at the junction of Highways 16 and 37: Gitanyow 19 km; Meziadin Junction 149 km; Stewart 220 km; Bell 2 249 km, Tatogga Lake(not always open) 392 km; Iskut 406 km; Dease Lake 499 km, Junction 37 at Yukon border 724 km.

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Other information to help you plan your camping trip include:
Wilderness Adventure Along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Kitwanga Junction
Exploring Northern British Columbia – A Circle Tour Adventure: Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Discover British Columbia’s Travel the Great Northern Circle Tour

For camping accommodations in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

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Who is Your Wildlife Companion In British Columbia?

Pack the Car | Mentalfloss/Pinterest

Have you ever thought about who your camping companions really are? No, I don’t mean the ones who helped you pack for the trip and set up camp – I mean your wildlife companions.  Have you ever just sat quietly for 60 seconds and listened?  I mean really, really listened to all that you hear in that brief moment of time.  Take a moment to take in the sounds, sights, and smells of a campsite.  This could make a great camping activity for the whole family, by making it a family tradition where once a day the whole family sits in silence for just 60 seconds (at different times each day) and make a note of all that you hear (If you have children, this could be a segway to a future school project during the school year).

Stellar Jay | Bird Atlas

Most times, you will hear a barking dog, a crow, a raven or even the bright blue Stellar Jays who makes harsh, nasally chirping sounds – I refer to them as the food thieves of the camp, so don’t leave that snack bowl unattended as one in a bowl means a whole flock is sure to follow, one by one.   You may even see the gray and black Whiskey Jacks – aka the Canada Jay, Robins, Geese, Owls, Eagles as well as seagulls (depending on your location) but there are others lurking in the treed forest you are calling home for a few days each year. 

Whiskey Jack | Canadian National Geographic

Now that we have covered the feathered ones, what about the ones you can see?  Most of us can say we have seen a squirrel or chipmunk as well as a raccoon while we camp, possibly even a deer, or you’ve been lucky enough to see a bear.  But have you really looked? What others are out there?  You might have even seen a ground squirrel – you know, they are the ones that are perfectly perched on their hind legs letting out a short squeak now and then. What about the ones that scurry along every night while you sleep? Busy out there rummaging through everything to get every last morsel that was dropped on the ground – they are the deer mice – the ones with the bulging eyes.  I had one enter my RV just this past summer – so my tip to you is that you make sure everything is sealed in airtight containers to lessen the attraction via their nose!  A bowl of pistachios left on my counter was the attractant.  And if you camp in tents, never snack in the tent either.

Ground Squirrel at Manning Park | Jozzie Productions

What about the ones you don’t immediately see?  Like ants, spiders, worms, and flies?  Then there are those pesky flying insects like mosquitoes, noseeums, black flies, and the Crane Fly better known as Leather Jackets (aka Daddy Long Legs or Mosquito Hawks) and an infestation that hit some parks in British Columbia in the summer of ‘22, where we saw large numbers of the yellow Tussock Moth, which feed on the needles of the Douglas Fir and can decimate a forest in a year and a half.

Tussock Moth | The Canadian Press

The next time you are out camping – take a minute (we know you have it) to just sit, relax and try to detect all the wonderful and not so wonderful creatures of the day and into the night. 

Sounds of Camping Sign | PoMoDee

For places to camp in British Columbia go to Camping & RVing BC Camping Map.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

British Columbia’s Wildlife A Sight to Behold

British Columbia is known for its magnificent mountains, pristine lakes, lush green forests and the Pacific Ocean. It’s therefore not surprising that residing within this bountiful environment are well over 1,000 different species of wildlife including hundreds of birds and fish, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

Big Horn Sheep
Big Horn Sheep

Wildlife viewing continues to grow in popularity. Viewing platforms have been installed in some of the more popular areas but often you will see wildlife as you drive BC’s highways. In the spring when the grass is sprouting, black bears can be found grazing along the roadside verges and deer have a propensity to dart across any road in every corner of the province, so drivers should beware.

Mountain goats, big horn sheep, elk and caribou are seen in some areas of the province. In remoter regions are plains bison and grizzly bears. Moose can be spotted in the mountains in Manning Park, the Rockies, and Northern British Columbia.  The aptly named Moose Valley Provincial Park near 100 Mile House in the Cariboo and Bowron Lake Provincial Park are well-known for moose viewing. And if you are very lucky you may even glimpse the white spirit bear, also called the Kermode bear, which lives in the coastal mountain ranges.

Heron Photo: Province of BC
Heron | Province of BC

For bird lovers, many species reside in British Columbia, either year-round or during the warmer seasons. In the spring and fall, birders line pathways and fields photographing the thousands of birds on their migration routes. The Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta is a popular viewing area in the south-west area of the province. Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area and the Columbia Wetlands, both in the Kootenay Rockies, offer waterfowl viewing in abundance. There is a bird trail in the Okanagan and many of the lakes in the Cariboo and Northern BC are home to well-known as well as rarely seen bird species.

Eagles and hawks, trumpeter swans, waterfowl, songbirds, herons and cranes, and the well-known Canadian loon with its recognizable call are just a few of the species seen throughout BC. Bald eagles enjoy feasting on salmon and are often found soaring through the skies in coastal areas. One of the most popular places to find bald eagles is on the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler in Brackendale, near Squamish.

Killer whales (orcas), grey whales and sea lions are just some of the marine life found in and around British Columbia’s Pacific coastline, with popular whale watching tours offering excellent viewing opportunities during April to October.

Mountain Goat Photo: Province of BC
Mountain Goat | Province of BC

Tips on Viewing Wildlife

  • Use a viewing guide
  • Understand when you are most likely to see wild animals – time of day, time of year
  • Be patient and quiet – it could take a while
  • Wear proper clothing and protect your skin from insects and the heat of the sun
  • Stay on designated roads and trails to avoid damaging the vegetation
  • Respect private property

Wildlife Viewing Safety

  • View wildlife from a distance to avoid scaring the animals. These are wild animals and some can be dangerous
  • Don’t approach young animals as their protective mothers will be nearby
  • Control pets
  • Do not feed wildlife
  • Pay attention to posted notices and warnings about wildlife that may be in the area
  • Deer and other wildlife can be found on BC’s roads and highways, so be alert and take care
Black Bear Northern BC 5051
Black Bear

Other Useful Information

Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resources is an excellent resource for information on viewing wildlife in BC. They provide brochures of the province’s regions, as well as specific areas within those regions, some communities, bird checklists, and more. You can review and download brochures from Wildlife Viewing Publications.

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The BC Nature Guide is published by BC Nature Federation of BC Naturalists. It provides viewing maps as well as tips on viewing wildlife in BC.

The BC Parks Bear safety guide offers tips on how to be ‘bear safe’.

Best Places to Spot Wildlife in British Columbia – Travel Blog

Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resources Wildlife Viewing in BC

BC Nature – Federation of BC Naturalists

Read Blogs on the Camping & RV in BC website that include wildlife spotted on visitors’ travels in British Columbia.

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

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

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Hiking Etiquette: 6 Tips for Sharing the Trails

Unlike team sports like basketball or hockey, hiking and camping have no rulebook. But there are several unwritten rules of hiking etiquette that keep everyone happy and safe while protecting the wilderness too. Keep these camping and hiking etiquette tips in mind so we can all share the trails.

Pack Out Trash

No one likes seeing garbage on the trails or in campsites. Bring a plastic bag to pack out your trash, and consider picking up any other litter you see too. Remember, if it doesn’t grow there, it doesn’t go there. That means that biodegradable trash like orange peels and peanut shells are litter too. They can take months or even years to decompose, and in the meantime, they look gross and attract animals.

Lake Ohara, Yoho National Park | Photo: Taryn Eyton

Make Room for Others

Trails are narrow so we need to share them. On most hikes, you will encounter other people at some point. But who has the right of way? According to tradition, downhill hikers should yield to uphill hikers so they don’t have to break their momentum while climbing a slope. As well, slower hikers should step aside to let faster hikers pass.

However, many hikers aren’t familiar with these traditions, so the kindest thing to do is say “hello” or “excuse me” no matter which direction they are hiking. Then ask to pass or let the other hiker know you’ll step aside to let them pass.

The rules are clearer when it comes to horses and bikes. Horses always have the right of way – hikers and bikers should step off the trail to let them pass. Bikes should also yield to hikers, but it can be harder for them to slow down, so be alert when hiking on shared trails.

It’s also important to give others space at popular spots like viewpoints or snack spots. Step off the trail to take breaks so others can pass. Limit your time at viewpoints or move off to the side so others can enjoy them too.

High Note Trail, Whistler | Photo: Taryn Eyton

Practice Good Dog-Owner Etiquette

Check dog regulations before you go so you know what to expect. Some trails and campgrounds don’t allow dogs at all, and others require a leash. These rules keep wildlife and ecosystems safe. If dogs are allowed off-leash, make sure your pup stays close to you and has good recall to avoid disturbing wildlife, other hikers, or other dogs.

Since dogs eat processed food, their poop contains bacteria and diseases that aren’t found in the wilderness. Make sure you bring bags to pack out their poop to avoid contaminating water sources. Don’t leave your poop bag beside the trail, even if you plan to come back that way. Many people forget them!

Respect Wildlife

Seeing wildlife when you hike and camp can be exciting, but be respectful. Give animals lots of space to continue their natural behaviours. Use binoculars or the zoom lens of your camera instead of getting too close.

And please don’t feed animals. Human food can make them sick. It can also cause wildlife to seek out humans for food. In small animals, like birds or squirrels, this can be annoying, but in larger animals like coyotes or bears, it can be very dangerous!

Whyte Lake Outhouse | Photo: Taryn Eyton

Learn How to Go to the Bathroom the Leave No Trace Way

When you gotta go… you gotta go. Plan ahead to make sure you’re prepared. Do some research to find out if there are toilets at the trailhead or along the trail, then plan to use them. If there is no outhouse, learn to go to the bathroom the Leave No Trace way.

For number 1, find a private spot off-trail. Pack out your toilet paper if you use it. (It can take weeks to break down). For number 2, follow these steps:

  • Find a spot 70 big steps away from trails, campsites, and water sources.
  • Use a trowel, tent peg, or stick to dig a hole 6”/15cm deep.
  • Do your business in the hole, then cover it back up.
  • Pack out your toilet paper in a plastic bag.
  • Use sanitizer to clean your hands.

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Be Friendly and Considerate

When you’re sharing the trails and campgrounds, a simple “hello” and a smile goes a long way. Other hikers and campers can be a great resource to ask for directions or trail conditions.

Be considerate of other hikers. Many people spend time hiking to enjoy the quiet of the wilderness. Let nature’s sounds prevail so we can listen to the birds or the wind in the trees. Avoid yelling and please don’t bring music.

For campgrounds in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

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

Discover 8 Camping Experiences in British Columbia This Summer

Once again this summer you’re likely looking to escape the city and get outdoors. For those of us who are lucky enough to live in BC, we have an incredible backyard to explore. From remote wilderness experiences, family-friendly campgrounds to luxury glamping, BC offers an array of camping options. Here’s a short list of camping options slightly off the beaten path to pitch your tent, park your RV, or claim your cabin. 

Spout Lake
Spout Lake | Photo: Ten-ee-ah Lodge

Untamed Wilderness

One of BC’s best kept secrets are the numerous lakes and untamed wilderness near BC’s ‘Fishing Highway’ 24. While fishing is a popular activity, you can also spend time wildlife viewing, swimming, or paddling. Ten-ee-ah Lodge is nestled on the shore of Spout Lake, a 2 hour drive north of Cache Creek and offers stunning scenery and your choice of luxe cabins or waterfront, tree-lined campsites. 

Canim Lake
Canim Lake | Photo: South Point Resort

A Fishing & Paddling Haven

Head southeast and you’ll find family-friendly South Point Resort on Canim Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Cariboo at 23 km long. Go swimming or fishing just steps from your lakeside campsite or cabin. Explore the shoreline and rent a pontoon boat, stand up paddle boards, or kayaks for a day.

Canim Falls from Mahood Falls Trail
Canim Falls from Mahood Falls Trail | Photo: Chemo RV Sales & Service

If you haven’t had your fishing fix yet, head east along Canim Lake Road to Mahood Lake Campground, another family-friendly camping spot in Wells Gray Provincial Park. Hike to three spectacular waterfalls or spend the afternoon paddling or swimming nearby.

Fraser River View
Fraser River View | Photo: Fraser Cove Campground & Guest Cabin

Rugged Fraser River Canyon

The scenery from this Lillooet campground is unrivalled. Fraser Cove Campground & Guest Cabin is tucked on the shores of the mighty Fraser River and offers a unique opportunity for riverfront camping. Go fishing or rent an e-bike to explore the trails. Take in the views as you walk or bike over the nearby historic suspension bridge or visit Fort Berens Estate Winery just down the road. Bring your tent, RV or plan to stay in the charming cabin overlooking the Fraser River.

Old Mining Site
Old Mining Site | Photo: Gold Panner Campground

BC’s Mining History

If you’re interested in BC’s mining history, visit Gold Panner Campground located 50 minutes east of Vernon in the forested foothills of the Monashee Mountains. Founded on a Chinese heritage mining operation, pan for gold, explore the hiking trails, and immerse yourself in history. Campers with tents and RV’s are welcome, and modern chalets and rustic cabins are also available.

Campsites
Campsites | Photo: City of Trail RV Park

Further south through the Monashee Mountains, go hiking and mountain biking in the historic mining town of Trail, BC. Take in the views of the river from the Columbia River Skywalk suspension bridge or go swimming at Gyro Park. Bring your tent or RV and plan to camp at the City of Trail RV Park where tree lined sites provide shade and privacy and kids can play at the playground.

Atriveda Cabin
Atriveda Cabin | Photo: SunLund By-The-Sea Resort & RV Park

Seaside Adventures & Riverside Cottages

For seaside adventures, head north up the Sunshine Coast past Powell River to Lund, the northernmost town on Highway 101. This small marine village is the jumping off point for boaters headed to Desolation Sound or nearby islands. Bring your RV or reserve a cabin at SunLund By-The-Sea Resort & RV Park surrounded by trees and steps from the ocean. Walk tree-lined footpaths to restaurants, groceries, and Lund Harbour where you can rent kayaks, charter fishing boats, or go sightseeing. 

Snow Creek Recreation Site, Sprout Lake

Mountain Lake & Rainforest

Tucked deep in the rainforest and mountains on Vancouver Island, Snow Creek Recreation Site Campground is a 3.5 hour drive from Victoria, west of Port Alberni. The campground has 27 campsites and is on the shores of Sprout Lake. There is a small boat launch and it offers excellent fishing and a tranquil setting for camping. Access is via a forest service road and 4×4 vehicles are recommended. Please pack out what you pack in and be respectful of wildlife. Reserve your campsite ahead of time to guarantee your spot.

Wherever you decide to camp, be safe and have fun. For more camping trip ideas and locations visit https://www.campingrvbc.com/.

“It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

RV Snowbirding at Oliver in BC’s Okanagan

Oliver, BC is well known as the “Wine Capital of Canada” and home to more than 40 wineries! However, it is not just a place to go wine tasting in the summer; it is extremely popular for snowbirds and those wanting a little winter adventure.

Gallagher Lake RV Resort | Photo Carol Stathers

Not long ago we checked out winter camping in Osoyoos; this time we headed a little further north to see what Oliver has to offer. We visited three parks full of RVs all looking very cozy and well set up for the cooler weather. Since our visit others have opened up to cater to snowbirds such as The Lakeside Resort in Oliver.

Yes, Oliver gets cold and has some snow but overall it is pretty mild with most days in January and February around 0 degrees Celsius and snow that usually only sticks around for a few days. Its population is 4,800 with a median age of 56; this means there are many services for seniors including a hospital, recreation centre, ski hill, two golf courses, and theatre.

Apple Beach RV Park | Photo Carol Stathers

On this trip, we checked out three local campsites all open year-round and welcoming snowbirds. First stop were two RV parks on Tuc-el-nuit Lake, located in the town of Oliver, but we can now add The Lakeside Resort who have recently renovated their RV sites to accommodate winter stays. 

Right on the shores of Tuc-el-nuit Lake, Apple Beach RV Park has large sites under beautiful willow trees and a lovely grassed beach area. It is family operated, pet friendly, and welcomes “big rigs”. Also on the lake is Desert Lake RV Resort with 40 sites in total including 11 right next to the water. This resort offers daily, monthly, and annual rates. The Lakeside Resort also boasts a lakefront location, is the closest to the town center and offers 50 amp services.

Desert Lake RV Resort | Photo Carol Stathers

A little further north (about 10-15 minutes) of Oliver is Gallagher Lake Camping & RV Resort. We just love the beach at Gallagher, lots of families and activities during the summer months and so peaceful in the winter. Some sites are pet friendly, there are WiFi hotspots, and nightly, weekend, and weekly rates for all seasons. If you are not a camper, check out their cute little camping cabins nestled amongst the big trees. The cabin rates are slightly more expensive.

Gallagher Lake RV Resort | Photo Carol Stathers

While we were in the area, we decided to explore some winter activities. We headed to Vaseux Lake which is located north of Oliver before you reach Okanagan Falls.  The word “vaseux” is French for muddy or murky which describes the silty water. If you make it here during the warmer months, watch for lots of bass fishermen, the big horn sheep and mountain goats, as well as a large variety of birds in the area known as the Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area. If you are bird watcher, you may want to visit the trails that allow access to the Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Preparing to Skate on Vaseux Lake | Photo Carol Stathers

Since the lake was well-frozen, we decided to clear off a patch of ice and spend some time skating.  Sometimes the lake is clear of snow and you can skate forever, ice fish, or maybe catch a glimpse of sail boats on skates!  And If you are looking for good hiking in the area with stunning views in the cool or warm weather, check out nearby McIntyre Bluff which overlooks the lake. It is accessible through the neighbouring Covert Farms tourist trail.

When it was time to get warmed up, we headed to Big Al’s Bakery & Deli on Main Street in Oliver. Check out their yummy baked goods; you won’t be leaving empty-handed!

Big Al’s Bakery, Oliver | Photo Carol Stathers

To sum up, Oliver caters to all ages, and in winter they have a special welcome to snowbirds. It has a beautiful, natural charm which appeals to locals and visitors year-round.

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For winter camping opportunities in British Columbia as well as year-round camping go to Camping & RV in British Columbia.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc

Why a Trip to the Cariboo, BC is not to be Missed

From an American’s perspective, a trip to British Columbia has to include visits to well-known locations including Vancouver, Whistler, and the like. Knowing we had the flexibility of exploring further thanks to our truck and travel trailer, we had a few thoughts upon planning for our Canadian adventure: What if we keep going north!? What would we find? What special campsites might we come across? What if there is some fun backcountry adventure that would lead us right into lush forests and abundant wildlife? This is what we found.

Plotting Our Route in the Cariboo | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

Having spent the first few days of our trip in and around the Squamish and Whistler areas, we found a small campground along Hwy 99 named Cinnamon rec site to use as a proper launching point into the Cariboo region. Just a short 20km drive south of Lillooet, we used this site to stock up on supplies in town and fill up on water and fuel. Hitting the road northbound we knew we had to put in a solid 3-4 hour drive to approach Williams Lake, a charming town with small, locally owned businesses dotting the streets.

Back Road Signage | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

Pushing further north, we pulled the travel trailer past the town of Quesnel and turned eastward on Highway 26 towards another small rec site named Lightning Creek. Thankfully we were not welcomed by lightning, although we can’t say the same about the mosquitoes. They certainly were planning a welcoming party for us, but we were prepared with repellant which we quickly slathered on. Having equipped ourselves with the necessary armor to fight off the festivities of our winged enemies, we chose a site for our travel trailer and set up camp. A good night’s rest was just what we needed to prepare for an exciting day of adventure to come.

Lightning Creek Recreation Site | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

Approaching the preserved mining town of Barkley, we took the Bowron Lake Park Rd turn-off and followed the signs showing us the way to the “Back Road”. A mix of tightly packed gravel and chunkier, loose rocks in certain areas, the “Back Road” is typically impassable by 2-wheel drive vehicles save for a few weeks in the Summer. Making use of the 4-wheel drive truck we use, we went straight for a deep dive into the backcountry. The further we went, the more special the scenery became. From creek crossings to hill and mountain vistas, this was the drive we had hoped for!

Back Road near Hwy 26 in the Cariboo | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

An early June series of storms had moved in on us causing us to ditch plans we had for a night of tent camping at Ladies Creek rec site, but the sight of the green pines standing tall and the crisp, fresh air made it an absolute joy just to be out there. Nearing the end of our journey on the “Back Road” we had one final encounter that cemented this as one of our favorite adventure travel experiences, our first bear sighting. Coming from Florida, we don’t see bears all too often and we certainly don’t expect to find them on a leisurely drive along the beachfront boulevard. But here he was, a majestic black bear happy to let us watch him feast on the vegetation.

Black Bear in the Cariboo | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

We made sure to give him plenty of space, snapped a few photos, and went on our way knowing that he would most likely prefer to have a side of peace and quiet with his dinner. Having completed the “Back Road”, we couldn’t help but be thankful for an experience we will not soon forget. As it turns out, there is, indeed, a lot more to see and do in British Columbia than those “famous” spots. A trip to the Cariboo just might provide you with a few lifelong memories and a bucket list moment checked off the list.

Along the Back Road in the Cariboo | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

For more campgrounds in the Cariboo and other areas of British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

Share your British Columbia travel and camping photos using #campinbc

Published: August 1st, 2019

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