Vancouver Island Bucket List for 2020

As we welcome in 2020 we hope your new year resolutions are filled with lots of adventures and getting out in nature. 

If you are looking for some ideas on where to travel on Vancouver Island – why not check out our 2020 Bucket list for Vancouver Island. Filled with lots of nature, great food and some stunning coastline – Why wait, come visit this year!

Here is our top things to do on Vancouver Island when you are planning your road trip.

11. West Coast Trail

So technically you can’t drive this but you can drive there so we are adding it to our list. 

Vancouver Island’s west coast was called the ‘Graveyard of the Pacific’ by sailors due to its treacherous rocks and headlands. In 1907 the dominion lifesaving trail was created to facilitate the rescue of shipwreck survivors along the coast. 

Now called the west coast trail, take a step back in history and explore the stunning 75kms section of rugged coastline. The trail is only open between 1st May and 30th Sept, for more information visit the west coast website

10. Take a whale watching tour

Vancouver Island is known for some of the best whale watching. You can take a tour in many of the places you might be visiting, like Tofino, Telegraph Cove, Campbell River or Victoria. 

Vancouver Island Roadtrip ideas 2020
Butchart Gardens

9. Victoria

Victoria has a lot to offer, from wandering the stunning Butchart Gardens to enjoying a high tea at the historical Empress hotel. The provincial capital of British Columbia and has a history deeply entwined with its British past that is shown through in the Victorian architecture. It is worth spending a day or 2 exploring this city and the surrounding area, especially if you are a fan of gorgeous gardens or a bit of a foodie, Victoria does not disappoint for both savoury and sweet tastes in your party. 

8. Cumberland

This vibrant community is nestled in the foothills of the Beaufort Mountains. This small village has seen a recent revival from its mining days, it is rich in trails, arts and culture. If mountain biking is your thing then there are a couple of rental shops and more than 80 kilometers of Vancouver Island’s most legendary single-track. There really is something for every mountain biker in the family. If Cumberland is your choice then we recommend sampling a donut from Cumberland bakery and a cold crisp beverage from the Cumberland Brewing Company. 

7. Fairy Lake

A photographers dream, this lake is named after the small bonsai tree that has survived on a log in the lake for decades, its diminutive size has given it the nickname, ‘fairy lake’ 

Particularly magical early in the morning when the ocean mist from Port Renfrew swirls around the lake. 

If you are taking the Pacific Marine Circle Tour, you will spot this on your journey.

Vancouver Island Roadtrip ideas 2020
Carmanah Walbran

6. Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park

One of my favourite places in British Columbia. Carmanah Walbran was established in 1990 and is home to some of the most remarkable wild forests on Vancouver Island. Carmanah Walbran is home to some of the world’s largest spruce trees, some reaching heights in excess of 95 metres and living for 800 years or more. 

It is a very wild area and whilst there are maintained trails and boardwalks. Routine flooding and falling trees mean that it has some challenging hiking areas. 

Take a look at our blog on Carmanah to find out more when planning your backcountry adventure. 

Vancouver Island Roadtrip ideas 2020
East Sooke Park

5. Highway 14 drive to Port Renfrew

If you are doing the Pacific Marine Circle Tour,then you will experience this stunning stretch of highway that winds along the coast and gives you access to Sooke, Juan De Fuca Marine Trail and views across the ocean. 

From watching the sunrise over East Sooke Park to breathing in the fresh ocean air at the Botanical Park in Port Renfrew this drive is well worth spending a couple of days exploring and camping along the coast. 

Along with the stunning views, this also allows you to tantalize your taste buds with some ‘not to be missed’ spots. Located between Sooke and Port Renfrew is Shirley Delicious, a small cafe that offers incredible sweet home baked goods and a delicious hot menu that includes my particular favourite – the breakfast burrito. 

Vancouver Island Roadtrip ideas 2020
Buttle Lake – Strathcona

4.Strathcona Provincial Park

The largest provincial park on Vancouver Island and the oldest provincial park in British Columbia. Satisfy your hiking itch and enjoy some breathtaking views. Mountain peaks speckled with snow dominate the landscape and dotted with clear alpine lakes. 

Strathcona Park is popular with kayakers, wilderness hikers and climbers, but there are a number of easier trails and hikes to satisfy all levels of abilities. 

 

Vancouver Island Roadtrip ideas 2020
Kinsol Trestle side view

3. Kinsol Trestle

Completed in 1920 this wooden railway trestle stands at 44 meters tall and is one of the highest railway trestles in the world. It crosses over the Koksilah River and was originally designed to connect Victoria to the Nootka sound through lake Cowichan and Port Alberni. 

Recently restored and reopened to the public, take a walk along the top and breathe in the views or wind down to the river below and get a different perspective of this impressive structure. 

Vancouver Island Roadtrip ideas 2020
Raft Cove Beach

2. Raft Cove

Located in North Vancouver Island is a stunning short hike that crosses through old growth cedar and sitka spruce and opens up into a wild expanses of rugged beach and coastline where you can camp on the beach and follow the coastal wolf tracks in the sand. 

Enjoy a true west coast wild camping experience as the wind whistles through your hair on a remarkable rugged sandy spit. 

This rustic park is popular with surfers, hikers and fishermen. The sandy spit and bay is very exposeroads to Hplbrg, before branching off and following the signs for raft cove. d to the pacific ocean weather and you will need to come fully equipped with the appropriate outdoor gear to stay dry. 

To access you will need to drive to Port Hardy (8 Hrs from Victoria). Leave the tarmac behind and take the logging road to holberg before branching off to Raft Cove. 

 

Vancouver Island Roadtrip ideas 2020
Raven Lady – Great Oysters in Ucluelet

1.Tofino / Ucluelet

One of the most popular and coolest places to visit is the Tofino area that incorporates the towns Tofino and Ucluelet.

Tofino is a cool surf town located on the west coast of the island. Situated north of the Pacific Rim National Park it is the larger of the two towns with its cousin Ucluelet situated to the South of Pacific Rim National Park. The town and surrounding areas offer plenty for those that aren’t avid surfers, with hikes, beach walks, food and beer all on offer. Along with whale watching, boat tours or a trip to Hot Springs Cove.

Ucluelet is situated south of the Pacific Rim National park and about 30-40kms from its larger cousin Tofino, Ucluelet is definitely worth a visit, whether its to grab a drink after a walk along the beach, take a stroll around the lighthouse loop or enjoy some oysters, there is plenty for everyone.

Take a look at some at our 10 days tour that includes Tofino.

A few hike: Most around this area are fairly easier trail walks. There are a number of more challenging hikes if you are feeling up for it.

1)   Long beach to Florencia Bay (or the other way round)– One of my favourite short hikes is the return trip from long beach to Florencia Bay. Both have ample car parking available.

The hike is 2.5km in each direction and you will traverse from coastal beach through forest and into wetlands and back to forest again. It’s a beautiful cross division of micro clients. I suggest taking a picnic lunch with you and enjoy the views before making the return journey. 

2)   Rainforest loop– This is another nice short hike. There are 2x rainforest loops on either side of the road each loop is 1km long and goes along a board walk, and up and down steps. I strongly suggest doing both loops as each has something different to offer.

 3)   Ancient cedars trail on the Wild Pacific Trail

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Camping with pets in British Columbia.

One of the best things about our overland rental vehicles? They are pet friendly. We just charge a small sur-charge to help with the additional cleaning. 

Exploring the back-country of British Columbia with your pets is one of the best vacations ever, but it’s important to be safe and responsible while showing your 4-legged friends around. 

The quick checklist

  • Does the campground you want to go to allow pets?
  • Does the campground have shade? Very important in the hot summer months.
  • Is my pet Microchipped and suitable ID Tag?
  • Health check – always an idea to get a quick check on your pet before heading out into the bush. 

What to pack?

  • Their bed – something that has their smell, it helps keep them comfortable anbd more rellaxed. 
  • Toys and bones, to keep them occupied when on the leash.
  • Water bowl – and extra water for your 4 legged friend. 
  • Extra long leash for when tied up at camp. Or a tie in or collapsable fence area. 
  • Poo Bags – Don’t be that guy!
  • Food.
  • Any Meds.
  • Pet first aid kit – We treat our dogs for cuts and injuries just as much as we treat each other.
  • Collar/Harness/Leash.
  • ID Tags

 

Dogs and Wildlife

Camping with petsThe biggest problem when taking dogs out into the back-country or indeed the front country campgrounds is the potential for wildlife encounters. Pets are generally wildlife attractants due to the smells they bring with them and therefore its important to have them leashed and under control. 

Even the best behaved dogs, sometimes can’t contain themselves when faced with wildlife, either predator instinct kicks in and they chase or they bolt. Regardless, you don’t have an under control dog. Take for example a situation I found myself recently. I always take our dogs out exploring with us and this day was no different, we were doing the hike down into raft cove in the north part of Vancouver Island. Up ahead there was a bear on the path. Now luckily we were traveling downwind of the bear and the bear saw us before we saw him. The situation could have been alot worse if the dogs were off leash.

Keep them on a lead in wildlife areas, it’s best for them and for the wildlife. 

No go areas

It’s always best to check ahead of time whether dogs are allowed on certain trails. For example – on the Cape Scott Trail on Northern Vancouver Island, dogs are only allowed on the trail as far as San Josef Bay, they are not allowed any further past that. Similarly dogs aren’t allowed on some beaches during the peak summer months. 

Key Rules

  • Don’t leave your pet unattended at your campground 
  • Ensure your pet is secured when traveling 
  • Take frequent breaks on long distance car rides
  • Don’t leave your pet in a parked car in warm weather 
  • Keep them leashed on trails and in campgrounds
  • Clean up after your pet
  • Camping with pets

Most importantly – Have a great time with your 4-legged friends.

If you want to book our pet friendly overland vehicle rentals check out our bookings page

As our inbox starts filling up with 2020 bookings and itinerary ideas, take a moment to consider visiting Carmanah Walbran Provincial park, especially if you are choosing to book a FarOut Wilderness Overland vehicle rental for your Vancouver Island tour. 

What is Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park?

Hard fought for in the 1990’s by a group of dedicated activists to protect the ancient forest growth, Carmanah was established as a provincial park in 1994.

It is home to ancient trees, epic cedars, giant sitka spruce and rugged unkempt wilderness. The routine flooding during the fall and winter months results in the boardwalks being upturned and relocated, a park maintenance nightmare. But this hard to manage forest is just what makes it so special, it is the wild west coast at its damp, overgrown, independent, gorgeous best. 

Why visit?

  1. It is stunning, the tranquility of the forest allows you to truly re-connect with nature, breath in the damp rainforest air as you marvel at giants.
  2. It isnt very busy – because it is slightly more difficult to get to, there are not the bustling crowds as with other areas.
  3. Its wild – they have tried to install a boardwalk, and handrails etc, but the forest wants to remain wild and flash floods have thrown the boardwalks aside and the fallen trees re-diverted paths. It allows you to experience what this island must have been like 100s of years ago.
  4. Its an adventure – from the moment you leave the tarmac, to be moment you set you wheels back on solid road its an adventure from start to finish, as you wind up steep rocky roads and peer across the forest to Nitinat lake, or descending into the valley and the trees get bigger and closer together, it is such an epic adventure.

Remember: If you are going to visit, follow the Leave No Trace camping rules.

CarmanahIs it difficult to get to?

To get there, it is recommended that you use a 4×4 vehicle. Whichever direction you choose, you will drive a few hours on logging roads to get there with the last section being quite rough. 

The beauty of booking through FarOut Wilderness, is that your Overland vehicle rental is covered to drive off-road. Our GPS 2 way messengers is perfect for staying in touch with loved ones of the FarOut Wilderness office as there is no cell service. 

Budget around 4 hours drive from Victoria. 

Getting there.

You can either take the highway 14 through sooke to port renfrew and then following the logging roads around to Carmanah walbran Provincial Park – if you aren’t booking with us, but would like up to date driving directions/conditions, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email. 

The second option is to take the Highway 1 north towards Duncan and turn off towards Cowichan Lake, you then pass through Youbou before leaving the tarmac behind and following the signs for Nitnat Lake. 

 

Hiking ideas.

Main entrance (via Nitnat Lake)

There are 2x relatively easy hikes to do in Carmanah – unfortunately neither are loops so you would reach your focal point and turn around.

Both hikes begin at the same point and descend into the valley – this is roughly a 700-1km walk downhill – remember this as you will end your hikes with a 700m-1km hike uphill at the end. 

After passing the Coastal Giant you will reach a fork and you can do either of these walks relatively easily with a small amount of log walking in involved. Both are about 1 hr. 

Left takes you to the 3 sisters – part of one of the sisters came down in the winter and is still an impressive sight laying on the forest floor. The path has flooded in areas and thrown the boardwalks up, as well as some parts of the path have washed away and you might need to scramble over logs to get across, this is entirely at your own risk to do so. 

You can continue on from here, but past the 3 sisters, the paths are not maintained.

 

Right takes you towards Heaven Tree and Stolhmans Grove this is slightly more overgrown than the 3 sisters but the path is in better shaped in parts, once you reach Heaven Tree and grove, the path get less maintained and you probably need to turn around. 

Camping Options

  • You can either camp at the entrance lot where there are 1 or 2 vehicle camping spots, tent pads and fire rings can be found within walking distance. 
  • During the summer months you can camp on the exposed gravel bars inside the valley floor. 
  • You can hike into one of the backcountry camping spots
  • Nitinat Lake – you can camp at nitinat lake campground which is roughly 45mins-1hr drive from the park. 

How difficult is Carmanah walbran?

Without sugarcoating it, it isn’t the easiest place to visit, as mentioned you need to drive off paved roads, you need to be prepared for rain, the weather can be unpredictable at the best of times. You need to be comfortable hiking in areas without visible sign posts. You need a satellite or GPS messenger service as there is no cell service in case of emergency. 

Renting one of our Overland vehicles on Vancouver Island, you have access to:

  • Detailed knowledge and routes for Carmanah Walbran Provincial park
  • Unlimited Mileage
  • Insured for off-road driving
  • GPS messenger system
  • Full equipped with all the camping gear you need.

But even with all that, we don’t recommend someone head in there without backcountry experience. 

For more information, contact one of our knowledgeable team members. 

7 Day South Vancouver Island Overland Tour – FarOut Wilderness

A nice short whistle stop tour of some of the more remote southern highlights the island has to offer. Note: The pick up from this tour starts in Victoria or at the Swartz bay ferry terminal – but everything is flexible – we can also organize transfers and ferry transport from Vancouver/Vancouver airport/Victoria airport/Nanaimo ferry terminal – just drop us an email and we will sort the rest.

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Exciting news for the FarOut Wilderness Team. 

From April 2020 we are adding Vancouver to our list of collection and drop off locations. 

You will be able to collect a vehicle at no added charge from Vancouver Airport and downtown Vancouver.  You can now explore the whole of British Columbia and beyond with a FarOut Wilderness 4×4 Rental. 

What are the full list of locations I can collect from?

  • Vancouver Airport
  • Vancouver Downtown
  • Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal
  • Victoria Airport 
  • Victoria Downtown
  • Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal

Why have we added Vancouver to our list of 4×4 Overland vehicle rental locations?

We recognize that many of our guests will want to start and end their trip in Vancouver and have therefore opened up Vancouver to allow guests to rent their 4×4 overland rental without any added charges to their roadtrip. You can know explore the whole of British Columbia and all that this gorgeous part of the world has to offer.

What itinerary options do we offer?

We are putting together a host of new tour options for British Columbia and will keep you posted with new tours as they come available.

As we say good bye to the warmer weather and welcome the fall, its time to crack out one of my favourite recipes for this time of year – a classic Irish beef stew, or vegetable stew depending on your preference.

Personally I prefer making this onsite over the course of the day, we tend to start it over a fire at lunchtime and then add ingredients over the afternoon and let it simmer to perfection. Ready to eat for dinnertime.

History:

This is a twist on the traditional recipes that you would have found. The history of stew dates back to ancient times and the worlds oldest evidence of stew was found in Japan apparently. The Irish stew was traditionally made with mutton and potatoes or other roof vegetables, however I prefer to use beef. I personally cook potatoes separately as I find they breakdown when boiled for a long time.

Recipe: (For a large cast iron pot)

  • 1kg stewing beef
  • 2 large onions (Chopped)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 4 carrots (Peeled and chopped)
  • 8-10 mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1/2 pack of bacon (Save the rest for breakfast)
  • Tomato Paste (small can)
  • 1 can Guinness
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • Thyme and bay leaves

Method:

I prefer to cook on a fire, but if you prefer using the stove either works well. You need a low and consistent heat for the next few hours.

  1. Cut the onions and garlic and gently fry them in olive oil.
  2. Brown the meat
  3. Add the bacon once the meat has browned
  4. Add the Thyme and Bay leaves
  5. Once the bacon starts to release the fat add the chopped carrots
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. Add the stock and Guinness
  8. Add the tomato paste
  9. Add the mushrooms
  10. Allow to simmer for 2-3 hours depending on heat
  11. Simmer uncovered for the last 30 minutes once the sauce has reduced and begins to thicken.
  12. You may prefer to thicken the sauce with a bit of flour if you have.

Once your beef stew is cooked, enjoy with a thick piece of bread and a nice cold beer.

You can also serve with boiled or mashed potatoes.

So if you are taking out one of our Overland camping vehicles for rental this fall, ask us for our pre-stocked ingredients and we can make sure you have everything you need to make this delicious recipe on your travels.

Exciting news in the FarOut Wilderness family – For those sunchasers, you can now pick up a FarOut Wilderness Overland Vehicle in Phoenix, Arizona and explore the warmer climate of the Southern states of the US during our winter season special. 

Our first guests have booked onto our 2019 Arizona location offering Overland vehicle rentals in phoenix as of October 2019 and FarOut Wilderness will be offering 2x services throughout the winter. 

Why is FarOut Wilderness in Arizona – Each winter in British columbia, we are going to feature a different area where you can chase the sun and pick up a FarOut Wilderness Vehicle and customized tour. For the 2019 winter season, explore the rugged desert wilderness of Arizona or wind your way between Vancouver and Phoenix and experience the ultimate west coast road trip. 

For the short sun chaser:

Pick up your 4×4 overland vehicle rental in phoenix, arizona and spend 5 days exploring this gorgeous area. 

  • Tonto and coconino national forests: Home to huge expanses of red rock, cactus desert and vast pine forests. 
  • Sedona: A desert town near Flagstaff that’s surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. It’s noted for its mild climate and vibrant arts community. 
  • Palatki Heritage Site: A site in a red sandstone canyon, home to ancient cliff dwellings with pictographs.
  • Grand canyon: A must visit on anyone’s list- this mile deep geological wonder offers so much more than just ticking it off a bucket list, with hikes, mule rides and rafting. 
  • Las vegas: Why not throw the vehicle in a parking lot for the night and make a night on the strip, I don’t think we need to give you too much detail about what you can get up to in VEGASSS!!
  • Death valley: If you do head over to Las Vegas, then continue on and see Death Valley National Park, this ecological wonder known for its Titus Canyon and Ghost town, also has Badwater Basin’s salt flats, North America’s lowest point and much more. 

There is so much more to see and do – get in touch to let us book an adventure of a lifetime. 

For the budding Overlander:

One way trips between Vancouver and Phoenix. Take 10-14 days and wind your way through Arizona, Los Angeles through San Francisco up through Oregon and Washington before finishing up the the stunning British Columbia to hand your vehicle back in Vancouver. 

 

Sample trip:

Day 1

Collect your adventure vehicle from a FarOut Wilderness rep, load up on supplies and hit the road. 

Drive to Joshua Tree National Park – with its signature ‘joshua trees’ this stunning park draws campers and hikers the world over. 

(Approx 4Hrs driving)

Day 2: 

Spend the morning hiking or simply relax before heading to Los Angeles – there are so many options for this city, so get in touch for some ideas and tips. 

Day 3:

Explore everything this city has to offer whether you want to do the tourist movie star tour and see the Hollywood sign or explore some of LA’s history, this incredible city has something for everyone. 

Day 4: 

Time to leave LA behind and head north to Yosemite National park – an Iconic park that has huge redwoods, thrilling rapids and stunning hiking, I know right – what more could you ask for. 

Day 5: 

Drive further north and choose from either Plumas National Forest, Tahoe National Forest, Lassen National Forest or Eldorado

alternatively-

Head west to San Francisco. 

Day 6: 

Hit the road again towards Crater Lake National Park – this striking geological feature is america’s deepest lake and offers stretch your legs and cycle along the rim of this gorgeous lake. 

Day 7:

Hit Mt Hood National Forest for a host of different outdoor recreational activities.

Day 8:

Come south around portland and cruise up the Hwy 101 to soak up the beauty of the Oregon coast. You have a choice of a number of different stops along the way.

Day 9: 

Head towards Mt Rainier and stand up awe at this giant beauty, either overnight here or continue to Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest a 4 million acre wilderness. 

Day 10: 

Time to say goodbye to the US and head to Vancouver and hand your adventure rig back to a FarOut Wilderness rep.

For more detailed itinerary please contact our team.

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Vancouver Island has a host of great mountain biking opportunities for the novice and thrill seeker alike. We have been scoping out a few great areas for you to hit.

 

Day Trips: Based in an around Victoria – these are easy day trips to get your fill on 2 wheels. Fancy making a weekend of it – rent one of our overland vehicles and head further afield.

Mt Work: An easy day trip for any Victoria base with some easy(fish) blue runs through black to some seriously difficult double diamond runs. Take care and enjoy.

Kinsol Trestle/Koksilah River: Park at the Kinsol Trestle car park and cycle the logging road (old Port Renfrew road) to Burnt Bridge – go across the bridge and cycle along the access road – don’t take the first right trail down, take the second. It is sign posted Kinsol Trestle Trail/Valley Trail. The first part is a bit rough and requires some skill, but then it eases up a bit with some nice fun flowy turns. 

Duncan

Mt Tzouhalem – A good mix of challenging blues and thrilling black runs. A good number of different runs to keep you busy for a good few hours. 

Maple Mtn: A small area with a few blue and black runs.

Cobble Hill: An even selection of green, blue and black runs. 

Weekend Excursions: Got the mountain bike gear but need a ride? Rent one of our Overland Vehicles and collect the keys and go – everything you need is included in the vehicle. Need to rent everything? No problem, we can rent bikes, racks and gear for you and have it all prepared for your arrival.

Book Now!To book your Overland Vehicle Rental now.

Nanaimo

Mt Benson: Majority black runs and access trails.

Westwood ridge and lake: Mainly blue runs.

Abyss Ridge/Spruston/Pipeline trails: A large selection of mainly blue runs.

Blackjack ridge/Doumont trails: A large selection for all abilities, a few greens, lots of blue runs and black runs and one or two double black trails thrown in.

For ideas on places to stay – check out our 4 Day – Mountain Bike tour.

https://faroutwilderness.com/your-adventures/4-day-long-weekend-mountain-bike-special/

 

Campbell river

Snowden Forest: A steady mix of all levels of riding.

Radar Hill: A combination of access trails, greens but mainly blue runs – with 3 or 4 black runs to keep the more competent happy – an ideal place for beginner to intermediate biker.

The pump house: A small area with a couple of blue and black runs.

Quinsam River Trails: A blue run that runs the length of the Quinsam River, its an unsanctioned trail so take care in parts where erosion may have occurred and ride at your own risk.

Beaver Lodge Forest Lands: Beginners haven, almost all green to get you up and running :).

Woods Creek: A small riding area that has a couple of blue trails and a few greens.

Need a few ideas? Check out our 8 Day tour.

https://faroutwilderness.com/your-adventures/8-day-mountain-bike-extreme/

Disclaimer: These are merely suggestions and you undertake these at your own risk, always make sure you properly plan and prepare before embarking on such excursions.

Try using Trailforks:

https://www.trailforks.com/trails/map/?activitytype=1&z=10.0&lat=48.83851&lon=-123.61336

We have been avid campers our whole lives and together we have spent many a night around the camp fire with a cold beverage talking about how we couldn’t let children change our passion for the outdoors or hinder our ability to adventure. Then we had Phoebe… and we truly realised why a lot of parents fret about taking their precious little bundles out of the safety of home!

We had so many questions! How far should we travel, what should we take, how do we get Phoebe to sleep when its light until 10pm, and what if it rains?! Well, this blog is for those of you that have these very questions…!

How far should you travel?

On Vancouver Island everything, on a North American scale, is close – for you Brits, yes it may be more than an hour down the road but there is so much beautiful scenery to keep you entertained that you won’t get chance to ask “Are we there yet?!” In our experience, Phoebe is pretty happy doing anything up to 4 – 5 hours of travel (with a couple of stops for feeds and diaper changes). It’s great travelling together as one of us can be the in-house entertainer and, as she gets older, the snack provider whilst the other one drives and navigates. We have pushed the boundaries with longer journeys and have found that the key to success is not to be in a hurry and not to commit to anyone what time you will arrive.

What should you take?

The answer ISN’T everything… its NEARLY everything! We started with a packing list, and we were geeky enough to save it on the laptop so that we can now just hit print for every trip!

So, what to take, here are our top five:

  1. Travel Cot: Making a safe and comfortable place to sleep is priority number one. We tried to keep everything the same as home, from the cot sheet to the (battery operated!) noise machine – which has been great at blocking out the background noise of dinner and campfire chatter. When renting a vehicle from FarOut you can opt to add a travel cot to your rental and there is plenty of space in the tent annexe to place it so that your little one will be right there with you.
  2. High Chair: A great safe space for your little one. We have used a table-mounted high chair and a free-standing high chair whilst camping. The table-mounted chair has been fantastic as it folds down to nothing and can be attached to any picnic bench you find along the way. The free-standing high chair is more bulky but was a lifesaver on a recent trip to whistler where it rained for three days straight and their wasn’t a picnic bench in sight!
  3. Stroller: Yes, getting it to fit is always a pain BUT if you plan to visit any small towns or head out to lunch then it is worth its weight in gold as it is the perfect place for a long lunch-time nap, whilst you put your feet up and sip on a cold one!
  4. Baby Carrier: This is your freedom! Hikes become possible and the baby carrier is just the best snuggle spot after a feed!
  5. Groundsheet and play mat: Many places have pea-sized gravel as their base for campsites, great for drainage, terrible for crawling babies and toddlers who have learnt a pincer grip! Keeping your child on the groundsheet will be a challenge but at least you can create a space where they can have some floor time! Just don’t expect anything you take to come back clean…

How to cope with the light nights…

This one is easy, our rooftop tent and the accompanying annexe is a thick dark green material, it is effectively one large blackout curtain – so if you are taking our vehicle out you can make it dark any time of the day! We even managed a lie-in one morning! All of the fresh air and new experiences definitely help too!

What if it rains?

We recently had two solid days of rain in Whistler and we found that the combination of having the Gazebo (optional add-on), the awning over the camping kitchen and the annexe worked a treat. We changed our plans according to the weather and found some great little coffee hangouts for Phoebe’s day-time naps. They key to making sure our trip was enjoyable was having a VERY flexible plan and lots of warm and dry clothes as the dampness definitely left a chill.

Our top tips…

  1. Location, Location, Location: We love wilderness camping – but for our first few camping excursions we chose campsites that had a couple of amenities, just to make life easier for ourselves.
  2. Book! We love spontaneity but there is far too much to be thinking about, so book your campsites ahead of time so at least there is one less thing to worry about.
  3. Don’t be afraid to change the plan: If Phoebe has taught us anything, then its that Plan A is more of a dream-state with Plan D or E being more the reality! If its not working, then change it!

So, what are you waiting for? There are eight weeks left of summer and your next adventure awaits!

 

Continued from Part 1…..

Gold River and Upana Caves.

After Strathcona, we hit the road to gold river, the Hwy 28 cuts through the middle of Strathcona park and you are not short of some incredible views driving through it really is one of my favorite places in Vancouver Island.

Upana Caves

Shortly we hit Gold River a small town where you can stock up on gas, supplies, Wi-Fi and beer. After doing just that, we continued on towards Tahsis to stop off at the Upana Caves, if you are in the area, these are definitely worth a visit. They are easy to access and don’t require skills to have a rummage around in them, obviously make sure you have someone with you and wear the necessary protective gear.

The caves range from large and easy to get through, to some more challenging and tighter squeezes. There are maps at the site to help guide you through the Caves but remember to know your own limits if you are going to go in.

Woss Lake

From here we drove down the road to Tahsis, it is a continual mixture of gravel road and bits of paved road thrown in, it is quite an active road for industrial vehicles, so please watch you speed and respect larger vehicles.

Tahsis is a small community – from here you have access to a number of other caving sites for the more experienced.

You can also access the trail head that leads into Woss lake provincial park from here.

We then turned around and headed back towards gold river, but instead of taking the right-hand road at the junction we continued on towards Muchalat Lake, there are sign posts along this road and we followed the signs for Woss.

I had planned to check out a campground along the way and then overnight at Woss Lake Campground.

We pulled into Vernon Lake Rec site around 17:30 and as soon as we got out the car at one of the sites, Maverick our border collie, ran and jumped straight in the lake, so we allowed him to make the final call and decided to pitch up at Vernon Lake instead for night.

Vernon Lake Recreation Site: Is very rustic, with pretty dilapidated pit toilets and little shade on the campgrounds, but it does have about 15 lake fronted spots with little mini-private beaches, fire-rings and gorgeous views. So overall, I actually quite liked it.

 

The next morning, because I was freezing and Roxy was awake at 5:00- we were on the road by 6:30 and heading to Woss Lake, we decided to take a drive down the lake and up one of the side logging roads to a spectacular view across the Lake with a great spot for camping. Awesome hidden find – let us know if you fancy the coordinates.

 

From here we walked along an old logging road to the border of Woss Lake Provincial Park, along the way we found some fairly recent bear scat but despite scouting around, no sign of the wee little things.

Woss Lake Campground: Is again, very rustic like Vernon Lake, but has a lot more shade, I would say it’s probably the better spot over Vernon Lake if you are looking for a place to stay for the night.

Schoen Lake Provincial park

Our last stop along this little trip was Schoen Lake Provincial park

Schoen Lake is located off the Hwy 19, from Woss Lake you follow the signs for the Hwy and turn right onto it, back towards Campbell River.

Shortly you turn right off the Hwy 19 again and follow the signs for Cain Ski Hill and Schoen Lake, the road will eventually fork with Cain Ski to the left and Schoen Lake Provincial Park to the right.

The campground is well kept and there are a number of sites located on the water front, there is a beautiful beach and swimming area. If you wanted to do some trail hikes though, you would probably need to drive to one of the trailheads located on the other side of the park. But overall definitely worth a visit.

If you need any advise on road conditions or journey times – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Our latest trip takes us through Campbell river, Sayward Forest, Strathcona Park, Gold river, Tahsis, Woss Lake and Schoen Lake. The weather was gorgeous, the views spectacular and we went scouting for bears.

Our first stop was Campbell River, a large town 265kms north of Victoria.

Victoria → Campbell River

Take the Highway 1 north towards Nanaimo, you then have 2x options you can either take the direct route, Highway 19 north which bypasses all the towns on the way or the scenic route – the Highway 19A which winds along the coast. If you have time, personally I would take the 19A the best way to Overland is by seeing the sights.

There is plenty to do in and around Campbell river, but make sure to budget the time to spend a few hours in the town itself. There are plenty of options to choose from;

  • Kick back and enjoy the culinary delights of a number of fantastic restaurants overlooking the ocean.
  • Take sip of some of the local craft beer.
  • Campbell River is also a great option for taking a Wildlife or Whale watching tour.
  • Cycle Tours
  • Kayak Tours
  • Elk Fall Provincial Park

Sayward Forest

After Campbell River, we headed north continuing up the Hwy 19 before turning off into the Sayward forest area.

This area is great for exploring, there are tons of little lakes and forests and tracks that we could have easily spent weeks exploring.

This area is also home to the Sayward Forest Canoe Loop, which is a great loop paddle through 12 different lakes and approx. 7-8kms portage. You get to experience some of the calm pristine areas that can only be seen from water whilst making your way at your own pace. For more information get in touch.

The gorgeous beach of Brewster Lake

Our first stop was Cedar Lake Rec Site– A small little campsite, the tight road getting to it means it often rules out big rigs camping there. It is very rustic, but all sites have a picnic bench and fire-ring, and most are water fronted with the most spectacular views.

There are a number of great and free recreation sites around this area, so you have plenty to choose from if this one is full- if you want a list of our favourite lake campgrounds on Vancouver Island – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

From here we continued our way slowly through the Sayward Forest and then decided to loop around and through the Snowden Demonstration Forest.

Snowden Demonstration Forest

This area is fantastic for Mountain Bikers on Vancouver Island. You have a range of trails to choose from that suit both beginners and more advanced along with a number of hiking options. You could camp at a number of sites along the Lower Campbell Lake – (Loveland Bay, Burnt Beach rec site etc) and then bike into the forest and spend the day exploring. Finishing off with a cool dip in the lake and an ice cold beer.

 

After Snowden Forest we followed Campbell Lake Main Forest Service Road along the lake before turning off and driving towards Strathcona dam and then joining Hwy 28.

See our Mountain Bike tour for potential tour options.

Strathcona Provincial Park

After we drive into Strathcona Provincial park and turn off Hwy 28 onto Westmin Road following Buttle Lake. Tonight’s campground is Ralph River.

Ralph River campground is a well-kept site – the water comes from hand-pumped water wells and also comes with garbage disposal and pit-toilets. Ralph River is one of a couple of options the other driving accessible site is Buttle Lake Campground. Both are reservable, but book up fast.

From here you have a number of day hike options.

A great little morning hike that we recommend is the Bedwell Lake Trail, this is awesome if you just want a casual hike with some stunning scenery – from Ralph River Campground continue down the Westmin Road, at the end of the lake there is a gravel road called Jim Mitchel Lake Road, turn left down here and follow the road, enjoying the spectacular views of the mountains as you do so. There is a small parking area to the right and the trail head is just down the road from here.

The hike has some pretty steep sections, but the trail is very well maintained, I recommend taking a picnic up with you and enjoying the surrounds for a bit before making the return journey back down.

……To be continued in Part 2

Part 2...