If you were not one of the lucky few to win the Provincial Park Campsite lottery, do not despair. summer is still here and there are still lots of ways to enjoy camping on the Island this summer. Here are our top tips on finding a spot this summer. If you need more advice, we are offering a FREE 15 minute call with one of the FarOut Team to help soundboard your ideas. Book your call for free here.
Take advantage of provincial park campgrounds that have designated first come first serve sites
If camping at a provincial park is THE thing you want to do this summer, then there are still options for you. The Discover Camping Reservation Service is operating on a two month window, so if you are planning to camp in September then the opportunity to book a site is there, but if like most of us your aim is July and August then identifying campgrounds that have designated first come first serve (FCFS) is the way to go. Sites that are designated FCFS are literally that, if it’s available when you arrive, then you can occupy it and pay nightly for the site.
When aiming for a FCFS site we recommend:
- Do your research: Determine which campgrounds have FCFS sites and if possible determine how many sites they have on this basis. Some great examples on the island are Kitty Coleman, Englishman River Falls and Quinsam. This season you also need to check out the latest COVID-19 measures being taken by BC Parks.
- Get there early: Check out is 11am. The Park Facility Operator may allocate FCFS according to their wait list or may leave the sites open and available to be claimed, make sure you check what system is being used when you arrive.
- Do not hesitate: if you see an empty FCFS site, take it. Do NOT drive around the campground one more time just to check it out, the chances are that someone will have taken the spot you saw.
- Have a back-up plan (or plans): If you have children or if you do not like the thought of not knowing where you may be sleeping that night then bring comfort to yourself / to others in your party by creating a number of back-up options.
Take advantage of the Island’s Recreational Sites
Vancouver Island has a wealth of Recreational (Rec) Sites, these provide a great rustic camping experience. The sites are generally located in more remote areas that are accessed by gravel forestry roads. They provide basic facilities but can vary widely. Rec sites work on a FCFS system so they are our TOP recommendation for those of you without a reservation this summer
When aiming for a Rec site we recommend:
- Taking the Backroads Mapbook: This is THE book you need for finding Rec sites and navigating to them.
- Choosing an area where you have a few options: Not all Rec sites are maintained and sometimes access to the site may have been affected so aim to choose two or three options and then check them out – again, don’t hesitate, if you see a site that you like, take it! One of our favourite areas for this is the Sayward Valley Area which is located between Sayward and Campbell River.
- Prepare to be self-sustaining: Be fully prepared to be self-sustaining, do not expect potable water and take your own grill for the fire pit!
Head out into the Backcountry
Use the Backroads Mapbook to locate crown land – this is designated for Canadians to use and you are allowed to camp up to 14 consecutive days on crown land. Finding a spot to Wild Camp is part of the adventure, be prepared to amble along the logging roads and try out a few turns here and there.
When aiming to wild camp we recommend:
- Taking your time: Finding a spot to camp needs to be one of the activities of the day, don’t leave it until 5pm when everyone is a bit hangry and tired to start looking!
- Using the Backroads Mapbook: Look for geographical features and smaller logging roads, its often possible to camp alongside a lake / river so look out for these features
- Being prepared and being safe: Expect to be self-reliant, expect no cell phone signal and make sure you take first aid equipment and a GPS Messenger / SOS Device – such as the SPOT GPS Messenger. To read more on navigating in the backcountry see here.
Wherever you find yourself camping this summer, please remember to follow the principles of leave no trace camping.
Need Advice? Have ideas but not sure they are feasible?
For a limited time only, we are offering you the chance to speak with one of the FarOut Team for FREE. We will give you access to our in-depth knowledge of the Island and some of our in-house secrets that we usually only share with our clients through their fully tailor-made itineraries.
Why are we doing this you may ask, well, like you, we have been constrained in our four walls for far too long and we long to talk about camping, think about adventures – big or small, long or short – and we think that you deserve to explore your own backyard well informed and with confidence.
Book your call here, we can’t wait to hear your ideas!