Camp for Free in BC

Travelled by Amy Szitovszky on 5 July 2012 | 2 Comments

Travelled By

Amy Szitovszky Amy  Szitovszky

I was bitten by the travel bug when I was 17 and since then I have been either traveling or planning the next trip. ...Find out more!

Camp for Free in BC

British Columbia, Canada is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts.  Opportunities to get off the beaten track abound with its untouched wilderness, amazing wildlife, and natural wonders.  British Columbia offers the nature lover so many choices including hiking, biking, climbing, swimming, kayaking, bird watching, wild life viewing, fishing, and exploring.

Not a bad view to wake up to!

Unfortunately, the costs of visiting BC can be a deterrent to budget travelers. It is a first world destination with first world prices.  With hotels starting upwards of $100 per night, campgrounds starting at $30, and hostels only in the bigger centers, the cost of accommodation can quickly add up.

But if you love camping and the thought of camping in the wilderness excites you I’ll let you in on a little secret, a secret that the average visitor to BC does not know and the tourist offices probably won’t tell you.  There are hundreds of places where you can camp for free in BC.  They are called Forestry Campsites and they are usually within an hours drive from any town in BC.  Most are completely accessible in a regular vehicle, albeit by way of a well-maintained gravel road.   They are usually up in the mountains or in uninhabited valleys.  They fill up on the weekends with local campers and on a weekday it is not unusual to have a campground all to yourself.

Amenities in forestry sites are slim, but perfectly adequate for those who are willing to rough it.  There will be fire pits, picnic tables, bear proof garbage bins, and outhouses.  The campsites are well groomed and most have a potable water source.

A typical Forestry Campsite

Of course the best thing about them (other than being free!) is the location.  They are definitely off the beaten path.  They are in the lush forests, at the edge of pristine lakes, hugging winding rivers, and away from all the hustle and bustle of city life.  Your neighbors will be other campers and abundant wildlife including deer, elk, moose, bald eagles, osprey, and the occasional bear.  Be sure to practice bear safety including putting your garbage in the bear-proof garbage cans provided and keeping your food in a secure place (not your tent!)

If you are not afraid to go off grid and can rig up a camping vehicle or car and tent, free camping in BC is the perfect way to spend the summer.  Your only expenses will be camping gear, food, gas, and toiletries.  Your days can be filled with fishing, hiking, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, and lounging at your campsite.  Your nights will be spent under the stars.  Since you will be away from the towns and cities there will be no artificial light to compete with the Milky Way and you can star gaze under the twinkling brilliance of a BC summer sky.

Beautiful British Columbia

Forestry campsites are easy to find with a good back road map.  Once you are in British Columbia you can purchase a back road map from any gas station with a convenience store for between $10 to $30 depending if you want a pull out map or a more in depth map book.  The maps will show you how to navigate to all of the forestry campsites within any given area.  Once you are on the forestry roads there are sign posts with kilometer markings as well as signs for every major turn off and of course for the forestry campsites themselves.

So if you have always wanted to experience BC’s wild side but have been deterred by the cost of travel, consider spending a summer free camping in the BC wilderness!

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