Harmony Islands, Sunshine Coast (Albert Normandin photo)
Prepare to be impressed with the experience of camping and RVing in British Columbia.
BC boasts a huge variety of camping facilities: seven national parks, approximately 900 provincial parks and protected areas, more than 1,200 recreation sites, and hundreds of private campgrounds and RV parks. Many campsites are accessible by car or RV (recreational vehicle); others provide a rustic wilderness experience.
Relax around a crackling campfire, surrounded by stars and the Canadian Rockies. Embark on an RV adventure along the famous Alaska Highway. Or, climb into your tent and fall asleep to the sounds of the Pacific Ocean.
Combine camping with activities such as hiking, fishing, biking, hot springs or historic sites. Head out with a single location in mind or sample multiple campsites on a driving tour.
And RVers, take note: members of the world’s largest RV owner’s association, the Good Sam Club, declared BC the “Province to Visit” for eight years running in their annual Welcome Mat Awards (2002 – 2008).
Camping in BC’s Regions and Cities
Vancouver Coast & Mountains: Campsites near Vancouver, Whistler, marine parks, the Coast Mountains or the Fraser River.
Thompson Okanagan: Warm, sunny summer weather, orchards, lakes, beaches and wineries.
Vancouver Island: Campgrounds near Victoria or the Pacific Ocean; surf, whale watch or beach-comb.
Kootenay Rockies: Four national parks, mountain scenery, hot springs and bursts of alpine flowers in the backcountry.
Northern British Columbia: Home to big wilderness, the famous Alaska Highway, and loads of BC’s wildlife: bears, moose, and bighorn sheep.
Cariboo Chilcotin Coast: Campsites and guest ranches dot the highways and lakeshores. Anglers – pack your gear. The fishing is excellent.
Vancouver: Campgrounds and RV parks located within an hour's drive of the big city.
Victoria: Nestle tents or RVs amidst old-growth forests or arbutus trees near the ocean.
Whistler: Camp near (or on) mountain peaks surrounded by alpine scenery.
Types of Campgrounds in BC
There are four main types of campgrounds, each with different facilities and accessibility:
National Parks and Provincial Parks
Private Campgrounds & RV Parks
Provincial parks are located in all six regions of the province. National parks are located in the Kootenay Rockies, Northern BC, and Vancouver Island. Most campsites are rustic with beautiful natural settings.
Vehicle accessible campgrounds are available at 340 provincial parks and five national parks (Gulf Islands, Pacific Rim, Glacier, Kootenay, Yoho). Signage and roads are usually in good condition. Other sites may be walk-in, hike-in or boat-in access.
Vehicle accessible campgrounds usually have fire rings, picnic tables, toilets (flush or pit) and water. Some may also have interpretive programs, group camping, kitchen shelters, food storage or showers. A few have RV hook-ups. Backcountry sites can have tent pads, pit toilets, food storage poles or nothing at all. Facilities vary; check in advance.
Some park campgrounds accept reservations; others are first come, first served.
Provincial park camping fees generally range from $10 to $24 per party, per night for vehicle accessible sites, and $5 per person, per night for backcountry sites.
National park camping fees generally range from $15 to $38.20 per party, per night for vehicle accessible sites, and $4.90 to $9.80 per person, per night for backcountry sites. Entrance fees, fire permits and other fees may be applicable.
Hundreds of privately-owned or commercial campgrounds are located throughout the province near cities, towns, lakes, forests or highways. Amenities range from basic to full-service.
Generally easily accessible by all vehicles. Most have both RV and tenting sites.
Most have picnic tables, toilets (often flush), RV hookups and water. Many feature camping luxuries: showers, laundry, internet access, or a supply store. Facilities vary; check in advance.
Almost all accept reservations. Some offer multi-lingual service.
Camping fees vary depending on the operator, and can range from $15 to $60 per night.
These authentic wilderness sites have minimal facilities and are located on Crown (government owned) land across BC, often near lakes, rivers or trails. Outdoor adventurers – these sites are for you.
Many are accessible with two-wheel drive, low clearance vehicles or RVs; others require four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles. Roads are often unpaved (including logging roads), may be rough, and are not always well-signed. Maps or directions are usually a must.
Sites are rustic, with amenities limited to picnic tables, fire rings and pit toilets.
All sites are first come, first served.
Camping fees usually range from $0 to $15 per night.
When to Go Camping
Camping season is generally from mid-May to early September; some sites are open later, earlier or year-round. July and August are the busiest months, but May, June, September and October are great camping months – fewer crowds! Reservations are recommended for popular locations or during public holiday weekends.
Planning a Camping Trip
- For more details about where to camp, plus photos, visit Camping & RV in BC.
- Phone or stop in at Visitor Centres for local camping knowledge or directions. Plan your route using Maps.
- Campfires may or may not be permitted, depending on the campground and if there is a campfire ban in effect.
- Some campgrounds are pet-friendly, while others request that you leave them at home. Check in advance to be sure.
- Wondering what to pack? See Climate and Weather for regional variations and seasons.
- Play a part in protecting BC's forests. Abide by local park rules, exercise caution and ensure all fires are extinguished. For more information, visit firesafebc.ca. To report a forest fire within BC from a cell phone, call *5555.