Looking for a BC vacation deal? British Columbia offers pitch-perfect camping options for every family: sevenÂ national parks, 900Â provincial parks and hundreds of private campgrounds and RV parks. BC’s provincial parks typically only charge between $10 to $24 per site for car campers.
Jayne SeagraveÂ is an expert on BC camping, and a mom to two boys (aged 10 and 11) — two lucky boys whoâ€™ve beenÂ camping since birth. Sheâ€™s also the author of Camping British Columbia andÂ Camping With Kids: The Best Campgrounds in British Columbia and Alberta.
Let’s find out what Jayne recommends for BC family camping.
1. For families visiting Vancouver, can you recommend a close-inÂ campsite with a playground or other kid-friendly features?
There are no provincial park campgrounds within Vancouver. The nearestÂ is Porteau Cove, about a 30 minute drive away. There is a small beachÂ here (on the road to Whistler – Highway 99). (Lora’s note: I love the dramatic viewpoint at Porteau Cove — check out the photo at right).
Better to drive 90Â minutes up to Alice Lake. Alice Lake is near Vancouver and the town ofÂ Squamish, so if it rains or you decide you don’t like camping, aÂ Squamish motel is only 10 minutes away. Alice Lake offers a great kidsÂ play park, very safe beach, easy hiking trails, and a play park.
2. If a family wanted to take advantage of Whistler’s fun but didn’t wantÂ to pay for a hotel, what would you suggest?
Nairn Falls Provincial Park is fine and is the nearest to Whistler and there is a great 30Â minute return trail to the falls, but no flush toilets, nor kids playÂ area (although they can cycle around the campground). Nairn is about aÂ 20 minute drive from Whistler, Alice Lake about 40 minutes, and thereÂ is so much more to do at Alice with children.
3. Can you recommend a campground on Vancouver Island for families?Â Why is it fantastic?
Rathtrevor Beach has everything for families and is close to theÂ popular town of Parksville. Youâ€™ll find a huge beach, showers,Â easy paved roads to cycle upon, nature house and programs.
4. Any other favorite BC campgrounds for families with kids?
All campgrounds offer own personal attributes, below is a list ofÂ those I feature in Camping With Kids as they are theÂ better ones for children, in that they might provide playparks,Â showers, flush toilets and kidsâ€™ programs.
Lower Mainland campsites:
Vancouver Island campsites:
Northern BC/Rockies campsites:
5. Why is camping in BC such a great experience for both BC familiesÂ and visitors to BC?
Larger provincial parks have Jerry’s Rangers Programs specificallyÂ for kidsÂ which teaches natureÂ courses, safety outsides, talks on bears and insects and frogs andÂ fish and beaches, depending where the park is located. Only theÂ larger parks offer these.
There are also evening talks and interpretive programs suitable for all age groups. Most of theÂ campgrounds I recommend will have the talks but only in peak summerÂ months and some only on certain days. I’ve attended loads, the eveningÂ ones are an easy way to pass an hour in the early evening and usuallyÂ involve audience participation, which kids really like.
At a BC campground, you can get away from electronic devices and canÂ explore in a very safe environment. Camping is also very reasonablyÂ priced in BC. Make sure to use the reservation system toÂ avoid disappointment atÂ www.discovercamping.ca. You can reserve most of the best familyÂ campgrounds.
6. And I understand that you suggest new-to-camping families might tryÂ taking a spin in an RV first. What was your experience with an RVÂ rental?
I used Go-West Campers, we flew to Calgary and “delivered” an RV backÂ to Vancouver. When the kids were under 2 you are only paying for adultÂ flights to Calgary and the Camper was free as we were delivering itÂ back for rental company. BUT the gas was VERY VERY expensive. ThereÂ are millions of RV Rental companies. Cruise Canada RV Rental and Sales and Fraserway RV are both well-known.
Thanks, Jayne! I can’t wait to make my reservations for a BC camping vacation with my kids.
Read more about camping in BC with kids at The Travelling Mom’s The Best Campgrounds in British Columbia.