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19 first-come, first-served campgrounds around Vancouver

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DH Vancouver Staff Aug 05, 2016 7:58 am

Ah camping! There’s nothing like waking up in the forest, having a campfire breakfast then getting your hike on.

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Of course, with the rush to use the government’s camping reservation system, it feels like just about every campground in BC is already booked up this summer.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

We’ve been tracking down some campgrounds around Vancouver that still have first-come, first-served (FCFS) campsites that you can take advantage of.

So get ready to get back to nature with these 19 campgrounds around Vancouver that you don’t need to reserve.

Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley

Rolley Lake – 64 FCFS camping spots

What: Rolley Lake Provincial Park is a flat, wilderness area blanketed with tall, second-growth conifers. The small, warm-water lake provides opportunities for swimming, fishing, canoeing, picnicking and hiking. Campsites are nestled in the trees minutes from the shore.

Where: About one hour and 20 minutes drive from downtown Vancouver, on Bell Street north of Mission.

Golden Ears – 203 FCFS camping spots

What: Golden Ears Provincial Park has an extensive system of trails allowing hiking and horseback riding, amid extremely rugged, mountainous backcountry. Alouette Lake is a popular spot for swimming, windsurfing, water-skiing, canoeing, boating and fishing.

The park has three large campgrounds, with first come, first served camping spots as follows:

  • Alouette Campground – 123 FCFS camping spots
  • Gold Creek Campground – 78 FCFS camping spots
  • North Beach Campground – 2 FCFS camping spots

Where: About an hour and a half drive from downtown Vancouver, 11 km north of Maple Ridge, via Dewdney Trunk Road.

Sasquatch – 22 FCFS camping spots

What: Sasquatch Provincial Park is full of pocket lakes, birch forest, and scenic mountain ridges. Hicks and Deer Lakes are ideal for motor-boating and canoeing while Trout Lake provides a tranquil fishing experience.

The park has three campgrounds, with first come, first served camping spots as follows:

  • Hicks Campground – 18 FCFS camping spots
  • Bench Campground – 2 FCFS camping spots
  • Lakeside Campground – 2 FCFS camping spots

Where: About two hours and 20 minutes drive from downtown Vancouver, 6 km north of Harrison Hot Springs, off Highway 7.

Sea To Sky

Garibaldi – 65 FCFS camping spots

What: Garibaldi Park has more than 90 km of established hiking trails, offering diverse vegetation, snow-capped mountains, iridescent waters, abundant wildlife and scenic vistas. Overnight campers should be prepared to be self-sufficient and practise backcountry ethics.

During summer, the park has six campgrounds with first come, first served camping spots as follows:

  • Rampart Ponds Campground – 12 FCFS
  • Helm – 9 FCFS
  • Cheakamus Lake – 10
  • Singing Creek – 7
  • Russet Lake – 7
  • Wedgmount Lake – 20

All camping requires a pre-purchased backcountry camping permit.

Where: At least an hour and a half drive from downtown Vancouver, with several access points along the Sea To Sky Highway, between Squamish and Pemberton.

Nairn Falls – 34 FCFS camping spots

What: Nairn Falls Park is a good base camp for exploring Whistler, the Pemberton Valley or nearby Garibaldi Provincial Park. The falls themselves are 60 m high and a 1.5 km hiking trail will take you to the viewpoint.

Where: A two-hour drive from downtown Vancouver, 20 minutes north of Whistler on the Sea To Sky Highway.

Birkenhead Lake – 40 FCFS camping spots

Hazy alpine meadows w/ @nathanielatakora

A photo posted by Jason Zerbin (@jasonzerbin) on

What: Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including spotted owls, mountain goats, black bears and grizzly bears. Campers can enjoy old growth forests, subalpine and alpine environments, and plenty of large and small lakes.

Where: Up to a four-hour drive from downtown Vancouver, and about 90 km north of Whistler. Turn off the Sea To Sky Highway to D’arcy, then follow a gravel road to the park.

Sunshine Coast

Plumper Cove Marine – 20 FCFS camping spots

Another rough day at work

A photo posted by Keara Allan (@kearamarieallan) on

What: Plumper Cove Marine Provincial Park, on the NW side of Keats Island, has forested campsites, fire rings, water and a trail system. The pebble beach is good for swimming and picnicking, while Observatory Point offers views of Howe Sound and Gibsons.

Where: A 30-minute drive from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay, then a 1 hour 20 minute ferry ride from there to Langdale, another short ferry ride to Keats Landing, then a 2 km walk to the park.

Porpoise Bay – 12 FCFS camping spots

🔥🌭🍺🌅 #beautifulbritishcolumbia #bc #canada #campfire #bbq #goodtimes #biking

A photo posted by Alexandre Jeanselme (@red_panda87) on

What: Porpoise Bay Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast is separated from the Strait of Georgia by the isthmus at Sechelt. This park offers second-growth forest, open grassy areas and sandy beaches, and makes an excellent base camp for paddlers exploring the inlet.

Where: A 30-minute drive from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay, then a 1 hour 20 minute ferry ride from there to Langdale, followed by another 30 minute drive north on Highway 101.

Saltery Bay – 17 FCFS camping spots

What: Saltery Bay Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast, full of lush forest, creates a quiet setting for the campground at Mermaid Cove. At low tide, the shoreline often has tidal pools with starfish, sea urchins, and crabs. Killer whales and sea lions can sometimes be seen. 

Where: A 30-minute drive from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay, then a 1 hour 20 minute ferry ride from there to Langdale, a further 80 minute drive north on Highway 101 to Earls Cove and a one-hour ferry from there to Saltery Bay. The park is about 1 km north of the ferry terminal.

Inland Lake – 9 FCFS camping spots

Inland Lake, which is wheelchair accessible for its entire perimeter

A photo posted by Tim (@eppicphotos) on

What: Inland Lake Provincial Park, on the Sunshine Coast, boasts a 13 km wheelchair accessible trail around its spectacular lake. There are drive-in and walk-in campsites available, as well as opportunities for swimming, cycling, fishing, canoeing and boating.

Where: A 30 minute drive from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay, then a 1 hour and 20 minute ferry ride to Langdale, an 80 minute drive north on Highway 101 to Earls Cove and a one-hour ferry from there to Saltery Bay. The park is about a one-hour drive northwest of the ferry terminal.


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DH Vancouver Staff
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