The best camping near Castlegar, British Columbia.
Several Castlegar sites, including the informative Doukhobor Discovery Centre, share the West Kootenays’ Doukhobor heritage. The Doukhobors were a religious sect who left Russia for Canada in the early 1900s, seeking religious freedom and peace, and many settled in BC’s Kootenay communities. If you like art, follow Castlegar’s annual Sculpture Walk, which showcases localRead more...
Several Castlegar sites, including the informative Doukhobor Discovery Centre, share the West Kootenays’ Doukhobor heritage. The Doukhobors were a religious sect who left Russia for Canada in the early 1900s, seeking religious freedom and peace, and many settled in BC’s Kootenay communities. If you like art, follow Castlegar’s annual Sculpture Walk, which showcases local artworks outdoors. For campers, Castlegar has several campgrounds and RV parks, as well as nearby provincial parks. Twenty kilometres (12.5 miles) west of town, Syringa Provincial Park has two vehicle-accessible campgrounds on Lower Arrow Lake, while Nancy Greene Provincial Park, 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Castlegar, where Highways 3 and 3B meet, is convenient for road-tripping campers.
Where to Go
One of British Columbia’s coolest small towns, Nelson mixes a serious outdoor lifestyle with a counter-culture vibe, a legacy of the many Americans opposed to the Vietnam War who settled in town in the 1960s and ‘70s. Go hiking, cycling, whitewater rafting, and paddling in the forests and mountains around town, then head for Baker Street or the surrounding downtown roadways for vegetarian-friendly food, craft beer, and good coffee. Nelson is 44 kilometers (27 miles) northeast of Castlegar.
Skiers and snowboarders challenge the steep trails at Red Mountain Resort outside the town of Rossland, 37 kilometers (23 miles) south of Castlegar. The town isn’t easy to reach—it’s a long drive from both Vancouver and Calgary—which makes it feel like a local secret. In the warmer months, you can go hiking and mountain biking around the region.
East of Castlegar and Nelson, long, skinny Kootenay Lake is a popular destination for paddlers, boaters, swimmers, and other outdoor lovers. Start your explorations in the lakefront town of Kaslo, where you can rent kayaks or SUP gear to get out on the water. Soothe your tired muscles at Ainsworth Hot Springs nearby.
When to Go
Summer and fall are the nicest seasons for camping in Castlegar and British Columbia’s Kootenay Mountains. From July into mid-October, there’s normally little rain, and the days are warm and sunny. In BC’s mountains, snow can begin to fall in October, and from November through February (and sometimes into March), the region can see heavy snow and temperatures hovering around or below freezing. Spring weather can be variable, with rain alternating with sunny cool days.
Know Before You Go
- Driving from the US? There are three land border crossings within a 60- to 90-minute drive of Castlegar. The Frontier/Paterson crossing, on US Highway 25 and Canadian Highway 22, is normally open 24 hours.
- You should be able to find groceries and camping supplies in the Castlegar area. Nearby Nelson also has a number of outdoor gear stores.
- As you’re exploring the back roads of the West Kootenays region, note that several routes involve ferry crossings along the inland lakes. On Kootenay Lake, a free ferry crosses between Balfour on the west shore and Kootenay Bay on the east. Check online for ferry schedules and service updates.