FarOut Wilderness: Adventure Camping at Lake Cowichan Recreation Site Vancouver Island, British Columbia

If you were not one of the lucky few to secure a reservation at a Provincial Park Campsite, do not despair, summer is still here and there are still lots of ways to enjoy camping on Vancouver Island.

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 for early fall then the opportunity is there, but if like most of us you are aiming for August and September then identifying campgrounds that have designated first come first serve (FCFS) sites may be the way to go. Sites that are designated FCFS are literally that, if it is available when you arrive, then you can occupy it and pay nightly for the site.

We recommend:

  • Do your research: Determine which campgrounds have FCFS sites and if possible determine how many sites they have on this basis. This season you also need to check out the latest COVID-19 measures being taken by BC Parks as this may impact whether the campground is offering FCFS.
  • 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.
FarOut Wilderness: Adventure Camping at Ralph River Campground, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Adventure Camping at Ralph River Campground, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Photo: FarOut Wilderness

Take advantage of Vancouver Island’s Recreation Sites

Vancouver Island has a wealth of 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 generally work on a FCFS system so they are our TOP recommendation for those of you without a reservation this summer!

We recommend:

  • Use the Backroads Mapbook to choose an area where you have a few options: Not all rec sites are maintained to the same standard and sometimes access to the site may have been affected so aim to choose two or three options and then check them out.
  • Prepare to be self-sustaining: do not expect potable water and take your own grill for the fire pit!
FarOut Wilderness: Adventure Camping near Carmanah Walbran Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Camping near Carmanah Walbran Park, Vancouver Island. Photo: FarOut Wilderness

Head out into the Backcountry

Use the Backroads Mapbook to locate crown land – this is designated as public land 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 forest service roads and try out a few turns here and there.

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!
  • 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.

Wherever you find yourself camping this summer, please remember to follow the principles of leave no trace camping.

Disclaimer: The recommendations expressed by the authors were developed using available information at the time of writing and are for informational purposes only.

FarOut Wilderness: Buttle Lake, Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Buttle Lake, Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island. Photo: FarOut Wilderness

About Us

FarOut Wilderness is an outdoor adventure travel company specializing in overland vehicle rentals and tailor-made itineraries in British Columbia. We use our local knowledge and experience to transform your ideas into an authentic and unique adventure.

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FarOut Wilderness: Outdoor Adventure Travel Company