A vast wilderness of mountains, backcountry trails, temperate rainforests, and a sprawling waterfront.
It’s hard to describe British Columbia as anything other than wildly breathtaking—quite literally when you swim in one of the province’s many turquoise glacier lakes, ride a wave, or catch a glimpse of a bear in the forest. For camping experiences and road trips, BC offers privately operated campgrounds and RV parks; a major network of parks with reservable and first-come, first-served tent camping sites; yurts and cabins; and thousands of recreation sites and trails on beaches, lakes, mountains, and meadows. Thanks to the mild climate and some winter huts, camping is possible year-round.
The Pacific Ocean runs along the length of BC, offering plenty of oceanside spots to explore. On Vancouver Island, Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park are famous for cold-water surfing, whale watching, and hot springs, while nearby Ucluelet is a fisher’s paradise. Further inland, campers can find riverside camping in Squamish; backcountry huts around the resort town of Whistler; and reservable tent pads overlooking the jewel-toned Joffre Lake. For a true off-the-grid experience, head to Haida Gwaii's Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve—set about 100 kilometres off the northern British Columbia coast, this area is only reachable by sea or air.
The northern part of the province is all raw, rugged beauty, with unique culture and untouched natural beauty. Soak in Canada’s second-largest hot spring in Fort Nelson, watch salmon spawning in the many rivers, and peek at bears catching some themselves at Kleanza Creek Provincial Park in Terrace. Options for outdoor stays include vast wilderness resorts, remote cabins, and private beach, lakefront, or rainforest campsites—but note that cell service and WiFi are rare in these parts. Bonus: Given its far north location, it’s relatively easy to snag last-minute campsites that still offer peace and quiet.
With a blend of history, wildlife, adventure, and expansive grasslands, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is true Canadian countryside. Campers come to this wild western spot to spend time in the Great Bear Rainforest and at alpine rivers (whitewater rafting is big here), but travelers usually also visit lakeside fishing lodges and historic Gold Rush towns such as Barkerville. Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is a prime spot for the chance to spot a grizzly bear.
Set in the province’s southeastern corner and part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, the Kootenays are home to four national parks: Glacier, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke, and Yoho. Here you’ll find unrivaled wildlife—think black bears, mountain goats, and elk—much of which can be spotted even from the highway. Throughout the region are glaciers, peaks, waterfalls, and quirky little towns such as Golden, Cranbrook, and Kimberley, the highest in Canada at 1,113 meters up. Camping and tenting is typically open between May and September, with limited winter options.