How to Book a Campsite in BC
If you’re looking to camp in a beautiful setting, you really can’t beat BC. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful forest, a lake to relax by, adventures in the mountain or ocean views, you can find it in BC. The province boasts a network of excellent campgrounds. It can be tough to find a campsite on long weekends or during the summer. This article will walk you through how to book a campsite and BC and give you tips on landing a spot.
How to Book a Campsite in BC’s Provincial Parks
You can reserve a campsite online or by calling 1-800-689-9025. Phone lines are open seven days a week from 7:00am to 7:00pm. There is additional $5 fee if you book by phone. Regardless of the way you book, there is a non-refundable $6 reservation fee as well.
If booking online, you simply enter which park you’d like to visit, choose your date of arrival and length of stay, and type of campsite you’re looking for. You can also provide additional information like your camping unit and specify if you’re looking for a double site. You can select a site on the map and it will show the site’s cost, amenities and sometimes a picture. You can book by add the site to your cart. Next, you’ll need to check out and pay by credit card or Visa/Mastercard debit.
You will need to provide one or two permit holders for the reservation. This cannot be changed, and the permit holder must be present at the campsite.
Reservations are not transferrable. If you need to make a change, you will pay a $6 fee to do so. If you cancel within 7 days of your arrival date, you will also forfeit the first night’s camping fee. If you cancel on your arrival date you forfeit two night’s camping fees. All other camping fees are refunded except for the reservation fee.
Tips for Booking a BC Provincial Park Campsite
- Do your research before you book – find your park here.
- Check rules and regulations of the campground before you book
- Reservations are rolling and you can book up to 4 months in advance of your arrival date
- If you book in the first week of the four month window, you are booking in the restricted booking period and will not be able to make changes to your arrival date
- Book early if you’re looking to get a spot at a popular park or on a long weekend
- Make sure your camping unit will fit on the site!
- Consider camping at popular campgrounds during the week
- Consider a campground further afield (they tend to be less busy)
- Consider booking an un-serviced campsite (these are easier to book)
- Camping fees vary by park
- You can book double sites or group sites at some campgrounds
- Each campsite is allowed up to 4 adults or a total of 8 people (including kids)
- You must book for a minimum of 3 nights on statutory holidays (I.e. if the holiday is on a Monday you must book Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights)
- There is a maximum stay limit of 14 days in each provincial park (a few are limited to 7 days)
- If you can’t get a site, you can try first-come, first-served – just check that your campground offers these sites
- Check back regularly as cancellations happen often
- If you’re looking for a rustic camping experience or looking to camp for free, check out this list of BC’s recreational sites
How to Book a Campsite in BC’s National Parks
BC is home to seven national parks:
- Gwaii Haanas
- Gulf Islands
- Mount Revelstoke
- Pacific Rim
Remember that you’re required to have valid national park entry passes on the days you’re in the park. You can buy a discovery pass ($80 and valid for a family for a year) or purchase daily admission in the park.
You book a campsite in one of BC’s national parks online or by calling 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783) between 8:00am to 6:00pm of the local time zone. The reservation fee for online booking is $11.50 and $13.50 for phone booking. You must pay by credit card to secure your campsite. You’ll be provided a booking number for each completed reservation – don’t lose it!
Tips for Booking a Campsite in BC’s National Parks
- Book early – reservations generally open in January (although 2021 is opening in April due to the pandemic)
- Check back regularly if you can’t get a site – cancellations are common
- Make sure your RV will fit on the site you book
- Check the rules and regulations of the campground before you book
- Campsites start at $16.05 per night and go up based on popularity and offered amenities (water, electrical and sewer hook-ups as well as showers)
- Fire permits are an additional $8.80 per night but firewood is generally included
- Consider camping during the week or in shoulder season as campgrounds are generally less busy
- Reservations can’t be resold but you can make changes for a non-refundable fee ($11.50 if you make the change online or $13.50 if it is made by phone) – just keep in mind that depending on the change you may be charged the difference in price and a penalty
- If you cancel, you will be charged a fee ($11.50 if cancelled online, $13.50 if cancelled by phone) and you will not receive your reservation fee back but you will be refunded your camping fee (the exception is if you cancel less than 72 hours before your arrival date as then you will forfeit at least some of your camping fees)
How to Book a Campsite at a Private Campground in BC
BC is home to many private campgrounds offering a variety of camping experiences. You can find a map and list of BC’s private campgrounds here. Make sure you read the rules of each campsite before you book and ensure your rig will fit in the campsite you want to book.
Every private campground is different, but generally you can book by:
- Directly on their website
Some campgrounds will have you book through a third party or even allow walk-ins.
Tips to Book a Campsite at a Private Campground in BC
- You can generally reserve well ahead of time, so book early
- Check back for cancellations or ask to be put on a cancellation list
- Rates can vary depending on the site and time of year – make sure you know the fees before you book!
- Some campgrounds offer memberships or even offer lots for sale – this may be for you if you really love a particular location and want a guaranteed spot
- Make sure you know the cancellation and change policies
Random Camping in BC
Also known as boondocking or crown land camping, random camping is when you camp on public land where there are no official campground facilities. Essentially, you go to an area of public land where random camping is allowed, find a spot for your RV, and enjoy!
However, random camping isn’t always that easy. There are no facilities, services can be limited (including phone service), and getting your RV into a spot can be a challenge. It’s also important to follow random camping rules and minimize your impact to the environment.
BC does allow random camping on crown land free of charge, but only on crown land that isn’t licensed to someone else (for logging, mining, ranching, et cetera).
Although not technically random camping, BC offers recreational sites for free or for a very low fee. These are very rustic, basic campgrounds located off the beaten track.
Tips for Random Camping in BC
- Make sure you’re allowed to camp in that area of crown land
- Obey fire restrictions and have safe fires
- Don’t stay longer than 14 consecutive days
- Leave no trace!
- Keep in mind access is usually gravel roads (or worse) and can be rough
- You won’t find signs, so it’s important to know where you are and where you’re going
- Don’t camp right next to someone else or disturb someone else’s campsite while it’s occupied
Wherever you stay, we hope you have an incredible time camping in beautiful BC!