Looking for adventure this summer but don’t want to break the bank? You need to go camping! And no, you won’t have to reserve a site months in advance OR pay an overnight fee. In British Columbia, there are hundreds of completely free road accessible Recreational Sites all around the province. I’ve stayed at dozens and dozens of them, saving hundreds of dollars. Here are just a few of my favourite free road accessible campsites in BC!
Pye Lake, Vancouver Island
With a total of four different Recreational Sites to choose from on this lovely little lake, you can’t go wrong here. The Pye Beach site remains our top choice, with nicely divided forested sites and a great stretch of sand to watch the sunset from.
Location: Access via Rock Bay Road between Campbell River and Sayward
Klaklakama Lake, Vancouver Island
Open lakefront pitches with a hint of mountain views make these Rec Sites a winner. For truly epic experience, bring a canoe and paddle to the middle of the lake. An incredible panorama of peaks and Mount Cain Alpine Park can be seen from here.
Location: Access via Nimpkish Road between Woss and Sayward
Dinner Rock, Sunshine Coast
The sites may not be super private but when you’re this close to the ocean, who cares? We spotted whales and sea otters and watched the sun set behind Vancouver Island every night. Anywhere else, you’d pay hundreds of dollars a night for these views.
Location: Direct access from Highway 101 between Powell River and Lund
Lois Lake, Sunshine Coast
Reasonably easy access and lots of space make this a handy stop on the Sunshine Coast. There are some nice hike-in campsites for those wanting more privacy. Paddlers should be wary of stumps and deadheads in the lake. Lois Lake is the starting point for the Powell Forest Canoe Circuit.
Location: Access via Canoe Main from Highway 101 between Saltery Bay and Powell River
Waitabit Creek, Columbia-Shuswap
Riverside camping sites with mountain views, just a few minutes drive from the highway between Golden and Glacier National Park? Yes, it’s true! It’s not the most well maintained Rec Site we’ve been to (and there are definitely quite a few long-stayers here) but Waitabit is very convenient and very scenic.
Location: Access via Bush River Forest Road on Highway 1 between Golden and Glacier National Park
Echo Lake, Columbia-Shuswap
High in the mountains south of Revelstoke, compact Echo Lake is picture perfect. A hiking trail circumnavigates this little lake. Note that the entrance can be snowed in until quite late in the season (June) due to the elevation though hike-in camping may still be possible.
Swalwell Lake, Okanagan Valley
Free camping in the Okanagan is a bit harder to find than other areas. The secret is that there is plenty in the higher elevations. Beaver (Swalwell) Lake has good fishing, sheltered sites (although not too private) and roaming cows. No joke – don’t be too surprised to wake up and find one rooting around in your campfire embers!
Location: Access via Beaver Lake Road, east of Winfield
Flatbed Creek, North BC
A small, open Rec site at the side of a fairly wide creek. In late August we were the sole campers for almost a week. A convenient location from which to explore Tumbler Ridge’s many waterfalls, dinosaur footprints and fishing opportunities.
Location: Direct access from Heritage Highway 52 south of Tumbler Ridge
Jigsaw Lake, North BC
The approach is a little rough but the payoff is worth it…if you like fishing and mountain views that is! The lake offers some nice paddling with a couple of islands as features. The site itself has the potential to become a little boggy so be sure to bring plenty of bug spray.
Location: Access via Brown Bear Forest Service Road, from Highway 37 between Kitwanga and the Stewart/Hyder junction
Finding Free Campsites in BC
Need some more free sites? No problem. Check out my guide to finding free camping in BC.
Where are your favourite free campsites in BC?
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