Private versus Public Campgrounds in British Columbia

By trufla-admin | May 25, 2023

Here in British Columbia, there are so many great campgrounds and parks to explore, and it can be tough to narrow down your options. One thing you’ll have to decide early on is where you’re going to stay and that often involves choosing between private campgrounds and public campgrounds. We’ll walk you through the differences between these two options and why you might choose one over the other in B.C. 

And of course, before you head out, make sure to get the right RV or trailer insurance to protect your assets and good times! 

What is the difference between private campgrounds and public campgrounds? 

Private campgrounds are privately owned by individuals who operate them for profit. Private campgrounds can offer only basic amenities, but usually, they offer a lot more alongside great customer service. They’ll offer feature amenities like showers, bathrooms, laundry, playgrounds, and even things like pools, mini golf, concession, wifi, and more.  They want to attract you and your family in order to keep your business! It only makes sense that they’d go that extra mile to ensure you’ll love your stay. 

Private camping in B.C. does come with one downside, however: private campsites tend to be more expensive.. They can also have more rules and it may be more difficult to book your BC campsite 

Facilities in public campgrounds in B.C. can vary – some offer full amenities like showers, full hook-ups and activities, while others are much more rustic. A public campground can be a great option, especially if you want to spend your vacation outdoors enjoying the province’s beautiful nature. Public campgrounds are usually much less expensive than private campgrounds.  

How do you find private campsites and public campsites in B.C.? 

You can find private and public campgrounds online. Public campgrounds can be found online at BC Parks and Parks Canada. Many public campsites can be reserved online or by phone but there are also a large number of first-come, first-served campsites where you self-register at the campground (be sure to have some cash).  

Many private campgrounds also have websites. You may be able to book through the site or by email. However, not all private campgrounds will be listed online or can be reserved online. In some cases, you will need to call.  

You can check out reviews of campgrounds on Google, TripAdvisor, and other similar platforms. This can be good if you need to research the quality of the campgrounds and make sure it has the amenities you want.  

What should you look for in private and public campgrounds? 

When choosing a campground, it really depends on the experience you’re looking for. Your answer is solely dependent on what you want to do, see, who you’re traveling with, and how much time you plan to be away. 

Ask yourself the following questions when finding a private camping arrangement: 

  • Do you want an unserviced site or do you want power or a full hookup? 
  • What amenities and offerings do you value most? Do you want a pool? Access to a beach? Maybe you want to go horseback riding? Consider the basics, too. 
  • Where do you want to be close to? Specific sights? Hikes? A lake? 
  • Who are you traveling with? Do you have young children  Some campgrounds in B.C. will offer activities for children. Does anyone have a disability? Some campgrounds have specific campsites for physically disabled guests while others will have no accommodations. 
  • What is your budget? There are free campsites in BC, but sometimes the lack of price means sacrificing in other areas.  
  • What type of campsite do you want? Some campgrounds are more like parking lots while others offer private campsites.   

Things to remember before you go 

Having a campsite is just one piece of the puzzle. Make sure before you load up the RV that you go through your list of to-dos and check off the appropriate items. Have you gotten RV insurance? Have you checked the weather in the area and packed appropriately, including extras for rain, sleet, and snow? Board games? If you’re planning to hike, make sure to pack snacks, bear spray, and your respective hiking gear to ensure you don’t wind up at your destination unprepared. Also, familiarize yourself with British Columbia’s guidelines for camping, to ensure you remain respectful of the regulations.  

Regardless of your decision – whether that’s a public campground or a private one, you’re destined for a great time. After all, it’s British Columbia, and in this beautiful province, camping is always an awesome time had by all. Enjoy your trip!