Vancouver is prime for adventure, where it’s possible to head out of town for a getaway full of hiking, mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, and more—potentially even all on the same day.
Bounded by rugged mountains to the north and hemmed in by the ocean to the south and west, Vancouver is a great homebase for heading out into Canada’s wilds, whether you’re looking for a tent camping experience or something more sophisticated. The closest provincial parks are north (Garibaldi included) and east of the city (Golden Ears is a standout), while Vancouver Island is a ferry ride away to the west.
A number of outdoor regions and provincial parks can be found along the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Highway 99) north of Vancouver. Stop in Cypress Provincial Park, set closest to the city on the North Shore, or head further north up to waterfront camping areas at Porteau Cove; the mountain bike mecca of Alice Lake near Squamish; or beyond Whistler up to Pemberton and the scenic Duffey Lake Road.
Mountain scenery and lakeside recreation await at the several British Columbia provincial and regional parks located on the north side of the Fraser River (Highway 7). Try Golden Ears Provincial Park, a lesser-known spot like Rolley Lake Regional Park, or one of the private RV campgrounds that dot the valley. Consider the area’s lesser-known British Columbia Forest Service tent sites for a first-come, first-served option (all-wheel or four-wheel drive recommended).
Depending on your patience for border lineups, it’s possible to do day trips into Vancouver while staying at a private or public campground or RV park in Whatcom County in the U.S., an area known for hiking trails and Bellingham, a West Coast town just 32 kilometres south of the border and in the shadow of Mount Baker.
It’s rough to secure a campsite at a B.C. provincial park in summer without a reservation, but this is an ideal time to visit. Spring is a fantastic time to camp, especially in the Fraser Valley, while the Whistler region is a good option for crisp autumn nights.
- It can’t be emphasized enough: You’re really going to need an advance campground reservation to camp at any provincial park on a July or August weekend. Walk-ins are typically out of luck. - Camping gear can be rented at one of three MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) stores in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Langley. - Bears, racoons, squirrels, mice, and other vermin love campgrounds, too. If you’re planning a trip into the city, be prepared to take all of your food with you or store it inside a secure locker or locking bin. - All provincial parks near Vancouver are equipped with hookups for RV campers.