BC: Specifically, Vancouver Island

Discussion in 'British Columbia' started by Unstable_Tripod, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

    May 20, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Does anyone have suggestions on good places to camp? Hookups are not desired but we'd stay somewhere that had them if other advantages offset their presence. We like lots of privacy, quiet and proximity to hiking trails, especially along the beaches. We don't like places that have the atmosphere of an urban park on Sunday afternoon.

    DW and I are thinking about a week or ten days on the island in July. We'd want a day or two near Victoria to tour the city and then divide the rest of the time between the ocean and strait sides of the island.

    We are also wondering about ferry routes to the island. Who prefers which one and why? We could take Blackball from Port Angeles or BC Ferries from Vancouver or farther north up the coast. I've used Blackball out of Port Angeles as a walk-on passenger but have never taken the TV and PUP on a ferry.

    1998 Explorer Sport & 2007 Fleetwood Yuma
  2. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

    Feb 6, 2007
    Centerville, OH
    Some of our Canadian friends will have to chime in, but I used the both ferries with my pup in 96. It wasn't an issue then, but I do remember them asking about propane tanks. I think there was an extra charge for having a tank.

    We camped at a campground that was at the top end of the island, though I don't remember the name. It was awesome, as we are almost on the beach.

    Bruce ______________
    2004 Expedition & 2000 Palomino Mustang SL-SG-FT
  3. DaveH

    DaveH New Member

    May 8, 2008
    Victoria has a KOA nearby but I haven't been there. Google livingforest rv near Nanaimo. I haven't been there either but it looks like it might be just the ticket. The Nanaimo waterfront is close and is a nice place for a stroll and some intersting historic places. I little water taxi toodles you around the harbour. There could be some campgrounds around Butchart Gardens near Victoria - if you like flowers you won't find much better.

    Check with BC Ferries about the propane tanks - I haven't taken my PUP over.

    No matter which ferry you take, the scenery and wildlife are spectacular.

    Have a great trip.


    Dave & Lisa, 2xDS, 1xDD
    2007 Chevy Suburban 2500 LT3
    2007 Palomino Yearling 4101
  4. rinrat86

    rinrat86 Member

    Sep 29, 2007
    Calgary, AB Canada
    Go online and check the costs of the BC ferries (tswassen to swartz bay) versus Blackball one. Unless you wanted to do some kind of circle route, I don't think heading north to Horseshoe bay would be worth the hassle. I don't think propane is an issue, I think you just shut off the tanks. Depending how far you want to drive...my brothers camp at Pachena Bay near Bamfield on the west coast of the island, but its a good 3-4 hours from Nanaimo I think. I've always found BC provincial parks to have good private sites. Check out http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/

    2000 Coleman Taos
    Calgary AB
  5. seano3ca

    seano3ca No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

    Mar 8, 2009
    Surrey, BC, Canada
    Bamfield is at least 4 hours from Nanaimo, and a good chunk on a fairly rough gravel road with monster logging trucks hurtling along it. That said, the west coast of the island is worth the trip.

    Pacific Rim Nat'l park is fabulous, but needs reservations.

    For shorter drives, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial park is beautiful, less than 1/2 hr from Nanaimo. Very busy - it is generally fully reserved for the whole summer, so you've got to get booked if you want to go there.
    Englishman River Falls is also nearby and a bit quieter, though not on the ocean. Stamp Falls is another similar place.

    Driving up to the Campbell River area is worthwhile, and Cape Scott, as Theseus mentions above, is great. It doesn't have campsites per se, though. It is a backpacking destination, and is very isolated. Think cougar sightings, whales seen from the beach at the right time of year...

    If you use this link, you can click all over the map.
    Red tents mean reservations accepted; black tents mean first come first served. Facilities will range from pit toilets and manual water pumps (no filling h2o tanks from those without a hassle) to showers and interpretive programs. I've heard (though not seen the goods) that some BC provincial parks are putting in electrical hookups, at least. Cost increases with modernity, of course.

    From the border, if you're aiming for mid-island first, take the Tsawassen-Duke Point ferry. You miss out on the southern run's trip through the Gulf Islands, but save 1+ hours of driving on the Vancouver side, or 2-3 hours on the Victoria side to get to Nanaimo.

    If you're not averse to gravel roads, there's a great circle route through the Cowichan Valley, down logging roads to Port Renfrew, to Victoria. I last did it a while back, in a 4x4, but could have done it with a 2wd truck and trailer no problem.


    takes you to an interactive map of totally rustic campsites. As you zoom in, roads will start to appear, as will little triangles signifying campsites. At last check, some of those will have fees, others won't. I always make it a policy to carry TP going to those, 'cause you never know quite what you'll find. I'd only recommend using these sites, though, if you have a high tolerance for uncertainty. I also can't always speak to how appropriate they are for PUPs, as I spent most of my time in those sites in a self-contained 4x4 that could turn maneouvre relatively easily.

    If you camp in BC, be bear smart. No food in trailers if you're sleeping there. PUP canvas slows hungry bears down only a bit more than air does. :)

    The camping in BC is fantastic. I hope you enjoy your visit.

    07 Silverado CCSB
    08 Jayco 1007
  6. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

    May 20, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    Thanks very much everyone. Very helpful information.

    1998 Explorer Sport & 2007 Fleetwood Yuma
  7. DQ72

    DQ72 Starcraft 2106

    Aug 13, 2007
    Victoria BC
    I have been on both the larger BC ferries (Tswassen - Shwartz Bay) as well as a number of the smaller ones from vancouver island to Quadra Island, Denman Island and Hornby Island with my PUP. It's never an issue, however sometimes they ask to make sure the propane tanks are closed, and sometimes even provide a red sticker to attach during the crossing.

    We personally love Hornby Island (Brad's Dads Land campground) is a private run campground that is well kept and very quiet. Another favorite is Bella Pacifica by tofino. During the summer they tend to fill up fast so prebooking is recommended.
    Late last fall we spent a few days up on Quadra Island, right beside the pass. Cruise ships, barges and fishing boats are common sights right from the oceanside campsites.

    There are countless places to stay on the island and many ocean front spots. If you want freshwater, lake cowichan (Gordon Bay if I recall correctly) is a fairly popular place.
  8. lars

    lars New Member

    About 5 or 6 years ago, my wife and I spent a week tenting and B&B'ing in the central and northern part of Vancouver Island. We absolutely loved it. It was August yet it seemed very quiet up there except for Telegraph Cove which had a lot of fishermen at the campground. We particularly enjoyed Malcolm Island and Alert Bay with their laid back atmosphere and feeling of remote isolation from the rest of the province. Malcolm Island is the bigger of the two and has a campsite. I don't think Alert Bay does.

    In that area of Vancouver Island you can also visit some provincial parks that have caves that you can explore. we went to two cave areas and both times we were the only people there. Very cool.

    On the way back south, we headed west to Goldbridge where we stayed at a B&B and took the supply boat (the Uchuck II) to Nootka Island. It took a couple of hours, if I recall, and once there, we walked around the island for an hour or so and then cruised back to Goldbridge.

    Anyway, if you like getting away from crowds, then definitely try the north end of the island. At the Little Hustan Caves park, I can't recall if overnight camping was allowed but I think you could get away with it, or camp just outside the park. It's out in the boonies so it's not like anyone is going to do a nightly inspection of the site. IIRC that's the cave system that had a little creek going through one of the caves. It's great for swimming on a hot day (deep but cold). You need to take a gravel road to get there but it's not a problem, we drove there in our old Jetta.

  9. reidsd

    reidsd Kelowna, B.C.

    We have a similar trip already planned for August 5th. We are traveling mid-week to try to avoid the traffic and possible congestion with respect to the ferries. We will be traveling from Kelowna to Vancouver and specifically Horseshoe Bay. I haven't decided yet if I will try to reserve a spot on mid-afternoon ferry. We will be spending four nights at Rathtrevor Provincial Park near Parksville. I have heard amazing things about the beach and the relatively new water park in Parksville. Our 4 young children should have a blast. Yes, we have reservations; when I made them there were plenty of sites available which surprised me. After Rathtrevor we drive across the island towards Tofino as we have reservations for 3 nights at Green Bay on Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park. Again, I have heard nothing but great things about the area and the beach. There is a very nice interpretive centre nearby and lots of neat bicycle riding and walking in Tofino itself. This drive is much more civilized than the Port Alberni to Bamfield trip. I have made that trip twice without a PU and is a very long gravel, and active, logging road. To be honest, I didn't find that much to do in Bamfield so I don't think I would try that trip with the PU. As was stated in a previous post, there is a great deal to do on the Island. I would like to stay longer and explore more of the island, but our youngest is only 19 months old so a week will be enough for the DW for now.

    We will post pictures but since your trip will likely occur before ours, we hope you post some too. Good luck with your trip planning and the trip itself.

  10. Twisty

    Twisty New Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    WOW! So much excellent information. I am printing this thread so I can keep it in the Dream Vacation box.
  11. equilibrium

    equilibrium Member

    Jul 29, 2013
    We live on Vancouver Island, BC so if people have questions or need some roundabout info-please ask or PM me :)

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