Travel and social distancing restrictions have us all looking to explore close-to-home this summer, and there’s no better way to see British Columbia than camping. But if you thought it was hard to get a camping reservation in BC pre-pandemic, it’s even harder now.
Provincial park campgrounds are only open to BC residents this summer, but that hasn’t slowed down demand. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing campgrounds scattered throughout our province - you just have to know where to look!
If you’re looking to get away from it all in BC without having to wake up at 6am to make a reservation, try one of these incredible under-the-radar campgrounds.
Want more camping tips? Check out our list of 50 essential camping hacks to make your next trip one for the memory books.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
This collection of three campgrounds is a federal park, so it’s not part of the popular provincial reservation system. The McDonald site is just outside of Sidney on Vancouver Island. It’s adjacent to a highway, but it’s also close to the water and gives you easy access to Sidney, a quaint seaside town known for its bookstores.
The campground on Pender Island is a gem with only 17 sites and a disc-golf course, but it can fill up fast.
Instead, check out Sidney Spit. Because it’s only accessible by boat, sites are easy to find, and many are right on the water. Don’t have a boat? No problem - just catch the passenger ferry over from Sidney harbour. There are wheelbarrows on either side to help you carry your gear.
Strathcona Provincial Park
It’s a little funny to describe the oldest provincial park in BC as ‘under-the-radar’, but we’re putting it on our list because it often has availability. Strathcona is in the middle of Vancouver Island, and is known for its alpine lakes, rugged hikes, and backcountry camping - but most people don’t realize the park also has walk-in and car camping sites. The park’s backcountry reputation, plus its lack of family-friendly amenities like playgrounds, make it easier to land a reservation here.
Moyie Lake Provincial Park
If you’re within driving distance of the Kootenays, give Moyie Lake a try. This well-maintained and comfortable campground is equipped with showers, a playground, and a big beach that provides the only public access to the deep waters of Moyie Lake. It’s a big campground with 111 sites, and it’s far enough away from major cities and popular routes that sites are usually available. Bonus for families: it’s only a 30 minute drive to historic Fort Steele.
Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park
Considering a road trip north? This entirely first-come-first-served campground has some of the best scenery in Northern BC. Located on the edge of Kinaskan Lake between the Skeena and Coast Mountain Ranges, you’ll find campsites with direct lake access and easy fishing for rainbow trout.
BC Recreation Sites and Trails
Okay, so this isn’t one campground but a whole bunch of campgrounds operated by BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations. We’re including it because there are hundreds of under-the-radar campsites listed on its interactive map. These are rustic sites with basic facilities and most don’t take reservations - but if all the provincial park campgrounds near you are booked up, they’re definitely worth checking out for a weekend (or more) in our province’s wildest places.
Feed the Good
Wherever you go this summer, don't forget to bring your favourite camping snacks! Rumble Supershake is portable, natural nutrition that's shelf-stable, so you can keep it in your car or backpack. For your next camping trip, try Rumble Coffee Bean - a super delicious, super nutritious breakfast with a kick of caffeine to fuel your adventures and #feedthegood.