The distance between your own front door and a family camping adventure can seem daunting. Aside from packing and planning, the long drive from city to wilderness can be overwhelming, right? Not necessarily. There are plenty of options close to home – so close, in fact, you might get to your campsite in less time than it normally takes you to commute to work, making them perfect for mini getaways of just a single night or two.
Here’s are a few local camping options if you live in or around the Metro Vancouver area:
Alice Lake Provincial Park
Just a quick 15-minute drive from Squamish, which is itself a hop, skip, and a jump from downtown Vancouver, Alice Lake is an ideal family campground. In fact, it’s practically a kid’s dream – there’s a large central playground, trails for biking, and two sandy beach areas. And there’s a grocery store, gas station, hardware store (and a Starbucks) only a few minutes drive up the highway, just in case you forgot anything (or burn your coffee on the campfire.) Alice Lake also has a large group campsite which can be booked a year in advance. Consider organizing a group of families and share the fun.
Rolley Lake Provincial Park
It’s hard to believe that Rolley Lake isn’t in the middle of nowhere – but it’s actually less than an hour from the Port Mann Bridge to this beautiful day use park and campground. The sandy beach is picturesque, clean, and great for little ones. The water is shallow at the shore, and older kids and adults can float or paddle in kayaks and canoes further out where the lake gets deeper. There’s also an easy trail that loops around the park through the surrounding forest and partly along a raised boardwalk over the lake. Like most provincial campgrounds, this one has old-fashioned outhouses – but there’s a central modern bathroom with flush toilets and showers if you’re not too keen on giving up your modern plumbing. A small playground is a gathering place for tots of all ages.
Golden Ears Provincial Park
This park includes several separate campground areas and is one of the Lower Mainland’s most popular sites, in large part because of its proximity to the city. Situated just north of Maple Ridge in the Fraser Valley, it’s an easy drive for city families, and a simple solution if you have only a few days to camp. It’s one of the province’s largest campgrounds and it’s serviced by the new Park Bus system, a transportation service from downtown Vancouver to some BC parks. See parkbus.ca for more information.
Sasquatch Provincial Park
If you don’t mind driving a little bit further, head out to Harrison Hot Springs and check out Sasquatch Provincial Park, which is at the end of a dirt road about a half hour beyond the well known resort town. With three full campgrounds, trails, and some of the most beautiful lake and mountain views in the region, this campsite feels a million miles from home – but is close enough to get to in a quick morning drive. Deer Lake is a great spot to teach little ones how to fish, and there’s canoe rentals during peak season for anyone keen to get out on the water. If you prefer swimming, Bench Lake – one of the three campground areas inside the park – has plenty. Bonus: you can make a pitstop in Harrison on the way back for an ice cream cone and a walk along this historic waterfront.
Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Just a half hour outside West Vancouver is beautiful Porteau Cove. Known for its magnificent view of Howe Sound, waterfront campsites, and nearby diving opportunities, this park is a popular destination for families in the Vancouver region. On the Sea-to-Sky corridor, this site makes a great home base for local day trips, to nearby lakes, historic sites like the Britannia Mine Museum or to nearby Squamish for hiking and more. And you don’t even need to wait till summer – it offers camping opportunities (albeit with limited services during some periods) all year round.
If these close-to-home sites still seem too wild, don’t forget there’s a handful of privately owned and operated campgrounds throughout the region, some within city limits. For more campsites throughout the province, check out env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks.