These free campsites near Vancouver are perfect for a spontaneous trip

Apr 24 2023, 8:10 pm

It’s gradually getting warmer and camping season is fast approaching in the Lower Mainland.

Camping in provincial parks usually needs to be booked two months in advance, making it difficult for those of us who like making last-minute plans (or who believe it should truly be free to sleep in the woods).

Luckily, there are some campsites completely free of charge only a short drive from Metro Vancouver. Fun fact: BC Hydro operates several campgrounds that don’t charge a per-night fee. It just asks you to limit your stay to two weeks or less.

There are also handy websites like, but be warned there are some Walmart parking lots included in there.

We rounded up a few of our favourite free camping spots for you and the crew this summer.

Mount Seymour

Camping Mount Seymour

Lijuan Guo/Shutterstock

That’s right, you can camp overnight along this North Shore hiking trail. Camping is allowed anywhere north of Brockton Point, meaning the first pump, second, and third peaks are all fair game.

You may find tent pads or flat ground, but there are no toilets or freshwater sources — make sure to bring the essentials with you.

Squamish River

Squamish River

Daily Hive Vancouver

This mint-coloured river is popular for fishing and as a casual spot to relax on the weekend. Four-wheel drive is recommended to make it right up to the river bank.

Seton Lake Recreation Area

Seton Lake

Seton Lake near Lillooet, BC (Alena Charykova/Shutterstock)

This BC Hydro-operated campground is about three hours north of Vancouver in Lillooet. There’s a glacier-fed lake for swimming and boating, and firewood is available for purchase. It’s open from May to October and sites are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Vedder River

Vedder River

Vedder River in Chilliwack, BC (Lukas Block/Shutterstock)

If you drive out to the Fraser Valley, there are some fairly secluded camping and fishing spots along the Vedder River. Keep in mind there are no toilets or other facilities, and you must pack out all your garbage.

Jones Lake 

Jones Lake

Jones Lake, BC (EB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock)

The lake reservoir near Hope, BC is a source of hydroelectric power but also affords beautiful photo opportunities for those who wish to swim or kayak.

Note the road to the campsite can be rough, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle with high clearance is recommended. It’s open from May 1 to October 31.

Falls Lake at Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area


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A post shared by Ephraim Roberts (@ephraimroberts)

This is a small and rustic walk-in backcountry campsite beside a beautiful lake in the mountains along Highway 5. The lake is about a 40-minute hike from the trailhead. Be warned, BC Parks says thefts have been reported from the parking lot.


Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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