I’m an avid camper. I have all the gear and have been taking my son camping every summer for the last five years. However, just because I’m camping dosen’t mean I don’t want some of the comforts of home. I like having a hot shower, and I’m not into carrying 60 lbs of gear on my back three miles into the woods. There needs to be s’mores by the campfire at night and coffee with bacon for breakfast.
Here in B.C., we have two options for camping: Provincial and Private. Provinical campgrounds are owned and managed by the province of B.C. They tend to be less expensive, and more rustic. Private campgrounds will likely include everything you need–hookups, showers, even wifi.
Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite places within an hour or two’s drive of Vancouver.
Located in Squamish, an easy hour’s drive from Downtown, Alice Lake is a fantastic place to camp. The sites are huge, and there are lots of trees, which creates privacy. There’s a beautiful sandy beach (on a lake) for fishing, canoeing, kayaking or swimming. Given that it’s a Provinical Campsite, though, and it’s so great, you really need to reserve well in advance, or try your luck early in the morning (before 11 a.m.) to get a site.
Harrison Hot Springs
A 90-minute drive from Vancouver (make sure you stop in Chilliwack for fresh corn to BBQ on your way!), Harrison has it all–small town feel, big arts festival, and an amazing, kid-friendly beach with lots and lots of space. Beyond the lagoon, it also has a full boat launch, and they just set up an amusement park way out on the water. If you’re the hot-tubbing type, there’s a public indoor pool that’s fed by the Hot Springs. There are water slides a short drive away, in Bridal Falls.
Given that Harrison is a tourist-driven town, there are tons of camping options. There’s Sasquatch Provincial Park (with two locations, Deer Lake and Hicks Lake) for those of you that prefer the more rustic experience. I prefer to camp in the town itself, closer to the beach. I like Harrison Springs Camping and RV Park. The sites and picnic tables are small, but the vibe is friendly, and the campground includes a family of ducks, some good playground equipment, a common sink for washing your dishes, flush toilets and showers, and wifi (which you have to pay extra for).
Located on the ocean on the way up to Squamish, less than an hour’s drive away, Porteau Cove Provincial Park is the place to go if you are into scuba-diving. There are man-made reefs and two sunken wrecks to explore. If you have the kiddies along, The Britania Beach Mine Museum is a short drive up the hill. The only drawback about this site is that the trains run through here, making it a bit noisy.
A little over an hour from the city, located in on Highway 1 in the Fraser Valley, Cultus is a great spot–close to the city, on a lake, and waterslides nearby for the young ‘uns (or the young at heart!). Swimming, boating, floating and fishing abound. My favorite place to camp in Cultus is at The Provincial Park. There are four campgrounds there, all together, so lots of space for everyone.
For the brave:
Accessible only by boat (canoe/kayak), to get to this beautiful but remote campground, you park at Pitt Lake, and then paddle across the lake to Grand Narrows. Next is an easy hour-plus paddle up Widgeon Creek, through marshlands and slough. At the top, there is a campground equipped with pit toilets and bear-proof garbage cans. It’s quite an adventure!
Rebecca Coleman is a blogger, teacher and social media marketing strategist. She runs a recipe blog, Cooking by Laptop, and loves to experiment in the kitchen. She blogs at Vancity Buzz about restrictive diets. Connect with Rebecca on Twitter @rebeccacoleman.