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  • Writer's pictureJeremy

Top 10 Tips for Securing a Campsite in British Columbia

Camping in British Columbia is hugely popular among nature lovers, especially in the summer. However, snagging a prime spot during peak times can be tough due to the overwhelming demand. Here are some tips to help you secure that dream campsite.


Maverick Tremor with thule roof top tent at a Campsite at Cultus Lake Provincial Park near Vancouver
Campsite at Cultus Lake Provincial Park near Vancouver

 

Types of Campgrounds and Reservation Websites:


1. BC Parks Campgrounds


BC Parks manages a wide array of provincial parks that offer excellent camping facilities.


  • Reservation WebsiteBC Parks Reservation Service

  • Reservation Window: Reservations open four months in advance of your desired arrival date.


2. Recreation Sites and Trails BC


These are smaller, often more rustic sites that provide a more back-to-nature experience.


  • Reservation WebsiteSites and Trails BC

  • Reservation Window: Varies by site; most are first-come, first-served, but some offer reservations up to a few months in advance.


3. National Parks Campgrounds


These campgrounds are managed by Parks Canada and are located within Canada's national parks.



4. Private Campgrounds


These campgrounds are privately owned and operated, offering a range of amenities and services like pools; kids playgrounds and campground stores.


  • Reservation Website: Camping & RV in BC

  • Reservation Window: Varies by campground; many private campgrounds allow reservations up to a year in advance.


 


Tips to Maximize Your Chances of Securing a Spot:


1. Plan and Book Early


Reservation Windows

Understanding the reservation windows is crucial. Knowing when reservations open allows you to plan your camping trip well ahead of time.


Mark the Date

Set a reminder for the exact date and time when reservations open. Popular sites often get booked within minutes, so being ready to go as soon as the booking window opens is essential.


someone booking a campsite
Booking early is the easiest way to secure a popular campsite


2. Flexibility is Key


Dates

Being flexible with your travel dates can significantly increase your chances of securing the most popular campsites. Mid-week stays usually have more availability compared to weekends.


Locations

Consider exploring less popular or more remote campsites. These spots often have fewer visitors and can offer a more tranquil camping experience.


A ford maverick 4x4 Camper camping in the forest
This coveted campsite was still available on a weekday in May

3. Use Online Tools Effectively


Online Reservation Services


Make use of the official Bc parks or Parks Canada websites for booking. Create an account beforehand and familiarize yourself with the booking process to save time and reduce stress once reservations open.


Alerts and Tools

With the new “notify me” feature, you can sign up to receive as many as five alerts for any reservable campgrounds and dates. If a campsite becomes available for the desired date and location, you will receive an email notifying you that it is reservable.

notify me option on the BC Parks website
You can setup notifications for high demand campsites

4. Have Backup Plans


Multiple Parks

Identify several parks or campgrounds you would be happy to stay at in the area you're visiting. In our Travel Ideas section we provide a variety of camping options for each area.


Alternative Accommodation

Consider alternative options like first-come, first-served sites, nearby private campgrounds, or even backcountry camping if you’re feeling adventurous.


map of Campings near lake cowichan in BC
5 campgrounds near Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island

5. Consider Shoulder Seasons


Early or Late Season


Camping during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) is less competitive. The weather can still be pleasant, and you’ll encounter fewer crowds.

an empty campground in British Columbia
Campsites are often empty before the may long weekend and after thanksgiving

6. First-Come, First-Served

Arrive Early

Most campgrounds offer first-come, first-served sites, even the most popular ones but arriving early is crucial. Aim to get there as early as possible, preferably during the week.


Time it right

Arriving around 10 am is ideal to see people packing up. Additionally, ask the camp host, as they often know which spots will become available that day.


Thule roof top tent deployed on a Ford Maverick Tremor
We found this prime spot by arriving before 10 am

7. Be Prepared


All Information Ready

Have all necessary information (personal details, payment method) ready to streamline the booking process.


Stable Internet

Ensure you have a reliable internet connection when reservations open. This can make the difference between securing a spot and missing out.

booking a campsite
When reservations become available, aim to navigate through the process quickly

8. Get Out of the City


Explore Remote Areas

Consider camping in more remote areas that are farther from Vancouver. These spots tend to be a lot less crowded and can offer a more peaceful experience.


Consider less Popular Destinations

While places like Vancouver Island and the Rockies are beautiful, they are also highly sought after. Look for lesser-known destinations to increase your chances of finding an available campsite. Check out our Kootenays road trip itinerary for a camping adventure away from the crowds.

Coalmont Road, A Gravel Road near Tulameen British Columbia
Finding a camping spot is much simpler when you're away from urban areas.

9. Go on Unpaved Roads


Accessing Rough Roads

Some campgrounds, especially many Recreation Sites, are accessed by rough, unpaved roads. These areas are less accessible for people with small cars or large RVs, giving you a better opportunity to secure a spot.


Suitable Vehicles


Our 4x4 Campers are designed to take advantage of these less accessible campgrounds. These Campgrounds are often less crowded and offer a more rugged camping experience.

Ford Maverick overlander with roof top tent for rent in Vancouver British Columbia
Unpaved roads offer numerous opportunities beyond just camping

10. Consider wild camping


While wild camping in British Columbia is Legal, it's not as simple as setting up camp wherever you please.


Typically, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can camp on Crown land for up to 14 consecutive days at no cost.

However, there are specific rules to follow:

  • Maintain a distance of at least 30 meters (100 feet) from any water source.

  • Respect areas marked as "No Camping" or "No Trespassing."

  • Avoid camping in areas designated for industrial or commercial use.

  • Stay aware of local fire bans or restrictions.

  • Practice Leave No Trace principles and carry out all waste.

  • Respect wildlife and their habitats.


It's important to note that camping on Crown land means there are no amenities available. You'll need to bring all necessary supplies, such as water, food, shelter, and sanitation equipment. Additionally, non-residents of Canada may need to obtain a permit for camping on Crown land in BC. Always check the specific regulations for the area you plan to camp in and adhere to any posted signage.


Ford Maverick Tremor with Thule Aproach Roof Top Tent
While free camping is allowed in BC, ensure you adhere to the regulations.

 

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