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While in the US you can camp for free at many National Forests, but once you get to Canada these sites are more difficult to find. During the first leg of our American Safari in Manitoba, we didn’t find any, but we’ve had great luck in British Columbia.

One Eye Lake Recreation site in BC

One Eye Lake Recreation site in BC

How to Find Free Camping in British Columbia

British Columbia has many Recreation Sites all around the province and a large percentage of them have free camping facilities. To get a list of the sites, check the Recreation sites and trails BC website.

When you go to their site, click on the map and it will automatically open the interactive map of recreation site locations and amenities (over 1,100 sites!!). On the right hand side of the screen there is a guide on how to use the interactive map.

Once you have located a site that you are interested in, click on the identifying tool and then on the little red triangle marker for the site. A secondary window will open with information on that particular site. This includes the number of sites, facilities (toilet available, boat ramp…) as well as detailed driving directions and photos.

Recreation Site sign

Most of the time, Recreation Sites are well signed. Others, you need detailed driving directions to find them.

The sites are pretty basic but they do have a picnic table and a fire pit. They normally have a pit toilet, but no toilet paper.

The places we have found along the way have been in beautiful settings, normally on lake shores. Since they usually only have 2 to 5 camp sites per recreation site, they have been very quiet and peaceful.

Tips on Using Free Camping in BC

Here are some tips when using Recreation Sites in BC:

  •     Always try to get to your campsite in the daylight. Some of the sites are not easy to find in the dark and you might end up stranded.
  •     Don’t forget the toilet paper.
  •     If you are planning on doing some free camping for a few days, get yourself a solar shower. You can get them at outdoor stores for $20-25. Always use biodegradable soap.
  •     You are in bear country. Do not leave any food unattended. At night store all your food in bear proof containers or inside the trunk of your car. Do not cook in your tent. Do not have any food or deodorant/tooth paste in your tent.
  •     Always be respectful of other campers.
  •     No potable water is available on site. Bring your own.
  •     Firewood is not available. If you bring your own, check with local regulations.