Finding The Perfect Campsite: Your Basic Guide

The size and location of a campsite are important when trying to find the perfect one, although other considerations include the cost and amenities, and whether the campground is family friendly. It’s easy to find books and websites listing campgrounds all over the country, and the camping experience is a lot more enjoyable if you take the time to find the one that’s right for you.

Step One

Determine what the purpose of your camping trip is. Do you want to spend time with the family, take part in outdoor activities or enjoy a romantic break with that special someone? Once you have that figured out and have decided on a budget, think about the campground amenities and any excursions in the area. You can make sure the campsite fits your needs with some careful planning.

Step Two

You may not know any friends or family members who have camped at the same destination that you’re going to, although word of mouth recommendations can be invaluable when choosing a campground. Reviews on and other camping sites can help you find the right campground, and established camping guide books such as those published by Frommer’s can also be useful. However, if you still aren’t sure, simply call the campsite and talk to someone there. Ask whether they appeal more to families, groups or couples and whether they consider themselves a family friendly campground.

Step Three

A campground with electricity hook-ups is a must when camping in an RV, while a more primitive and basic campsite may work if you are planning to pitch a tent. Look at the type of campground, the amenities and the overall level of comfort offered.

Step Four

Location is important, especially if you want a campsite that’s a little quieter. It may be noisier during your stay if the campsite is located next to a busy road or railroad track, and you can generally expect a noisier and more sociable camping experience if the campsite is densely populated and the pitches closer together.

Step Five

Extras and amenities such as a game room, pool or playground may be important to you if you are camping with small children. If you are camping as a couple, you probably want more peace and quiet and more space between the individual sites. Remember that you’ll probably pay more for various extras, but it may be worth it to have water hook-ups, shower blocks, fire pits, laundry, and a camp store or restaurant.

Step Six

If you are planning to sightsee, make sure there is plenty to do nearby, including state parks, trails for mountain biking and perhaps a skate park. Boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking are offered at many campsites, and these activities may be important to you. Try to choose a campground that offers easy access to the things you will want to do.

Step Seven

Budget is important. Campsite costs can vary widely; you can expect to pay as much as $100 a night for a luxury campground with all the amenities, features and extras you could want, while you can pay as little as $10 for a night at an older, and more basic campsite.

Step Eight

Reserve well ahead of time when possible, as popular campgrounds and those in touristy areas book up quickly, especially during peak times. Most campers prefer to choose their actual site rather than have it assigned to them on arrival, and checking out the camp website should tell you all about reservations.

Step Nine

Look at each available site if you arrive at your campground without a specific pitch booked, keeping in mind the needs of your party, especially any children.

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Camping in the Cariboo

When you visit the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, you will be camping in the middle of history and beautiful scenery, and with more than a dozen parks in the area, you can find the perfect location to suit your needs. Wake each morning to the sight of the Pacific Ocean, mountains, and great rivers. Spend your days hiking and watching wildlife as you stroll through mountain meadows, picnic by clear streams and lakes, and visit the historic sites of the Cariboo Gold Rush. As in most other B.C. parks, the region offers camping sites ranging from basic to full service for reasonable prices. If your schedule only allows a shorter visit, there are plenty of picnic and day-use facilities to choose from as well.

Big Bar Lake Provincial Park is 42 km northwest of Clinton. Its 330 hectares of expansive grounds are located on the shore of a large lake with smaller lakes and ponds scattered throughout the park. You can spend your days hiking among the glacial eskers or fishing for rainbow trout. Here you can find the Lakeside Campground with 27 sites overlooking the lake, a picnic area, and a boat ramp. The Lakeside Campground has ten sites that can accommodate large rigs and one pull-through site. The Upper Campground has 19 large sites nestled among the trees and serves as an overflow camping location. Parking for extra vehicles is available inside the park and in the Upper Campground.

Bowron Lake Provincial Park is found 144 km southeast of Prince George in the Cariboo Mountains. It has six lakes with connecting waterways spread out over its 121,600 hectares. The lakes and waterways of Bowron Lake Provincial Park lend themselves well to canoeing and kayaking with a choice of routes to follow depending on your available time and skill level. You can choose the 116 km 6-10 day route or the shorter one that only takes 2-4 days. Either way, these routes are not recommended for novices, previous experience with wilderness canoeing is strongly suggested.

Bull Canyon Provincial Park is on Hwy 20, 10 km west of Alexis Creek on the banks of the Chilcotin River and is the only campsite between Williams Lake and Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. Tucked away in the trees where the canyon narrows, it has been a favorite location of river fishermen for years. Bull Canyon Provincial Park has four tent camping sites in addition to 20 other vehicle campsites ranging from small to medium with 2 of them being double sites and one a pull-through. Reservations are not accepted for their campsites, and the park is closed between September and mid-May.

Also on Hwy 20, Bridge Lake Provincial Park is 405-hectare park 51 km east of 93 Mile House in the InterLakes region. Again, reservations are not accepted, so the 13 vehicle accessible campsites and three walk-in sites for tents are assigned on a first come – first served basis. You can even bring your leashed pets. Bridge Lake Provincial Park is a protected area for all, but one of the islands in the lake and the wildlife is plentiful with bald eagle nests in the nearby Douglas fir and spruce trees and active beaver colonies on the lake. The same nearby trees provide convenient habitats for other birds, black bears, coyotes, foxes, mink, mule deer, and river otters. If you enjoy fishing, then bring your lures for burbot, kokanee, lake char, and rainbow trout.

Canim Beach Provincial Park is a day-use only 6-hectare park on the shore of one of Cariboo’s largest lakes near 100 Mile House. Here you can enjoy fishing, hiking, swimming, and canoeing. Leashed pets are also welcomed.
Chasm Provincial Park is found 15 km north of Clinton and 4 km off Hwy 97. It was formed when glacial meltwater eroded the layers of lava formed by volcanic activity in the distant past. There are no campsites at Chasm Provincial Park as it is meant for day-use only, there are also no developed picnic areas although there is an area to park and enjoy the view. Pit toilets are provided for your convenience.

Downing Provincial Park is about 100 hectares and was donated to the public by C.S. Downing. The park is located off Hwy 97, 17 km south of Clinton. Here you can find both camping and picnic areas nearly surrounding Kelly Lake. If you enjoy fishing for the rainbow trout living in the lake, you can do so while utilizing one of the 18 campsites available on a first come – first served basis or pitch a tent in the grassy camping area next to the lake. There is limited parking for RV’s and vehicles over 30 ft. are simply not allowed. The park is subject to flooding early in the season, so make sure to check conditions before your arrival.

Green Lake Provincial Park is east of 70 Mile House. It has 11 campsites spread out over its 347 hectares, 3 of which have sites for vehicles including spots to fit larger vehicles. The vehicle accessible sites are Arrowhead, Emerald Bay, and Sunset View. The other camp sites are Black Bear, Blue Spring, Boyd Bay, Backside Hill, Green Lake Islands, Little Arrowhead, and Nolan Creek. Six of the 11 camping sites have developed facilities although the campgrounds only have pit toilets, and those at Emerald Bay and Sunset View are wheelchair accessible. You can find a flush toilet at the sani-station building where you can also dispose of waste from your RV’s tank during the season. Throughout the remainder of the park, you can find day-use facilities and picnic shelters, and of course, there are areas to swim.

Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy is the largest protected marine area along the coast of British Columbia. It can be found 115 km southwest of Bella Coola and 130 km north of Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. The Conservancy is only accessible by air or sea and is managed under an agreement with the Heiltsuk Nation. There are no developed facilities in the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy, but camping is allowed.

Located 13 km northwest of the community of Horsefly off Hwy 97, Horsefly Lake Provincial Park has a 23 site campground suitable for vehicles. The day-use facilities include a beach, horseshoe pit, and a nature trail for hiking. Fishing is also allowed. There is a variety of old-growth cedar, and Douglas fir trees in the park and other species include birch and spruce.

One of the more popular parks off Hwy 97, Lac La Hache Provincial Park, is a 24-hectare park near the community of Lac La Hache. The park has 83 vehicle accessible campsites, 30 of which are reservable, and ten sites suitable for tent camping. Many of the vehicle accessible campsites are capable of accommodating larger vehicles, too, as well as pull-through style sites. In addition to campsites, Lac La Hache Provincial Park offers a boat ramp, sani-station, picnic area, and hiking trails. If you prefer fishing, burbot, kokanee, lake and rainbow trout are all found in the lake.

Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park can be found 11 km north of Quesnel on Hwy 97 on the eastern shore of Ten Mile Lake. It has two vehicle accessible campgrounds, Lakeside and Touring, with over a hundred sites between them, 61 of which are reservable. Pit toilets are available throughout the park with flush toilets at the Lakeside Campground. The park also has a sani-station. Fishing is just one of the activities offered; there is also a picnic area near the beaches with access to the other day-use areas. If nature trails are more your style, Ten Mile Lake offers a 2 km one that follows an abandoned railroad to a large beaver pond.

Ts’yl-os Provincial Park is 160 km southwest of Williams Lake in Chilcotin. However, if you are interested in visiting for camping and similar uses, you will need to contact the Tsilhqot’in National Government because in 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada gave the Tsilhqot’in Nation a declaration of aboriginal title. This announcement gives the Tsilhqot’in Nation the exclusive right to determine how and when the land will be used. The Province is currently in talks with the Tsilhqot’in Nation to resolve this issue.

Part of the fun of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park – South may be in arriving there, located about 360 km west of Williams Lake on Hwy 20 you enter the park at Heckman Pass and descend along a narrow switch-backed road with grades up to 18% for 20 km. Then you reach a road that continues to Bella Coola. The 981,000-hectare park’s two vehicle accessible campgrounds are at the bottom of this hill where you meet the road. These campgrounds at the Atnarko River and the Fisheries Pool near Stuie provide many amenities, including a sani-station, toilets, picnic areas, and other primitive camping areas throughout the park. If you need more supplies, there are many nearby communities where you can stock up.

Please note: While the parks listed here are all in the region, the information presented here is not meant to be used as your sole source of information to plan your trip. Conditions can change rapidly, and it is recommended that you visit the BC Parks Website for up to date information including seasonal openings and closings.