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Camping at BC Provincial Parks on Vancouver Island

The BC Provincial Parks listed in this directory are those that are located on Vancouver Island that permit overnight camping. I have not included BC Provincial Parks located on smaller islands off of Vancouver Island, nor those that do not permit overnight camping. The parks are sorted by which region they are located on the island. I have used the boundaries as set out by Island Health as follows:

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North Island

  • Campbell River
  • Cape Scott
  • Comox
  • Courtenay
  • Cumberland
  • Gold River
  • Mount Waddington
  • Port Alice
  • Port Hardy
  • Port McNeill
  • Sayward
  • Telegraph Cove
  • Zeballos

Central Island

  • Bowser
  • Chemainus
  • Coombs
  • Cowichan Bay
  • Deep Bay
  • Duncan
  • Errington
  • Fanny Bay
  • Ladysmith
  • Lake Cowichan
  • Malahat
  • Mill Bay
  • Nanaimo
  • Nanoose Bay
  • Parksville
  • Port Alberni
  • Qualicum Bay
  • Qualicum Beach
  • Shawnigan Lake
  • Tofino
  • Ucluelet

South Island

  • Central Saanich
  • Colwood
  • Esquimalt
  • Highlands
  • Langford
  • Metchosin
  • North Saanich
  • Oak Bay
  • Port Renfrew
  • Saanich
  • Sidney
  • Sooke
  • Victoria
  • View Royal

Backcountry Permits

Backcountry camping permits are required in some BC provincial parks that allow backcountry camping, but do not have reservable campgrounds. Not all parks require a permit. To find out more about when backcountry camping is allowed and if a permit is required, click here.

Pit Toilets

You may see reference to a pit toilet - this is not a flush toilet and is otherwise known as an outhouse. This is very common at campgrounds that have little to no services such as no potable water or electricity.

All BC Provincial Parks on Vancouver Island for Overnight Camping

Keep reading below to learn which campgrounds are in which region, or use the quick links here to go directly to one of the BC provincial parks listed. 

BC Provincial Parks Located in the North Island Region

  • Cape Scott Provincial Park
  • Located 64 km west of Port Hardy on the northwestern tip of Van Isle
  • Accessed via highways and private, active logging roads (logging trucks always have the right of way)
  • Walk-in/backcountry/wilderness camping
  • Backcountry permit required
  • Open year-round
  • No fee for camping during winter
  • Access to the park is dependent on snowload and weather 

Cape Scott Provincial Park is one of several BC provincial parks that attracts hiking and wilderness enthusiasts from around the globe. It is rugged and wild and truly magnificent. Given the remoteness of the park, visitors are reminded to be prepared with food, shelter, appropriate clothing and maps. A hand-held communication device and one or more forms of wildlife repellant are strongly advised. 

Camping is permitted on designated camp pads and also throughout the 22,000+ hectares of forest and coastline. If you are not camping on a designated pad, you are advised to camp on the beach whenever possible.

Campers must be self-sufficient. There are food caches and some pit toilets located throughout the park. Fresh water is available at most of the camp areas however you are advised to boil or treat before drinking. There are no picnic tables.

  • Elk Falls Provincial Park
  • 3 km north of Campbell River on Hwy 28 toward Gold River
  • Camping area is known as Quinsam Campground
  • Open year-round - no services in winter
  • Reservations available during summer season
  • First-come, first-served sites available

Large, treed sites (approximately 25 along the Quinsam River) and close proximity to Campbell River make this a popular park for locals and visitors alike.

Recreation enthusiasts enjoy the 6km of hiking trails throughout the park while anglers will appreciate the freshwater fishing opportunities in both the Quinsam and Campbell Rivers. Saltwater (ocean) fishing is available near the town of Campbell River. Every angler is sure to appreciate this unique t-shirt to commemorate their visit to Vancouver Island. 

The campground boasts 122 vehicle-accessible sites. Pit and flush toilets as well as cold water taps are located throughout the campgrounds. Firewood is available to purchase.

With just 18 vehicle-accessible sites, Kin Beach is one of the smaller BC provincial parks. Located on the ocean, it provides visitors with stunning views of the BC mainland and the Strait of Georgia.

Water enthusiasts will enjoy launching their canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboards from the launch at the beach. Ocean swimming is popular, especially in the tidal pools. There are no lifeguards at any provincial park. 

The waters around this park are popular for anglers with salmon, shellfish and rockfish being the most common. (We love this t-shirt to commemorate your fishing experience on Van Isle). 

There is firewood for sale, pit toilets and cold water taps. The area is frequently under a boil water advisory. A water treatment or filtration system is useful. 

With 65 vehicle-accessible sites - many overlooking the beach - this campground is very desirable. Outdoor enthusiasts especially enjoy the hiking, swimming, boating and fishing. Salmon and rockfish are the most abundant. 

For those enjoying an even more leisurely pace, the wildlife viewing can be spectacular (check out this great resource for bird lovers). Keep your eyes open and you could be treated to sightings of seals, sea lions, whales, Dals porpoises, sea birds and bald eagles.

The campground boasts forested areas of western hemlock, western red cedar and douglas fir.

Much of this area is frequently under a boil water advisory. Bring a filtration system or pick up potable water near the office. 

  • Loveland Bay Provincial Park
  • near Campbell River
  • Access is from Hwy 28; take turn-off to Elk Falls viewpoint and Loveland Bay
  • Reservable and first-come, first served sites
  • 2 group campsites available

Loveland Bay is another one of smaller BC provincial parks with just 31 campsites, 3 of which are first-come, first-served. The campground is located directly on Campbell Lake and all campsites are along the lakefront. 

Loveland Bay is an ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy boating, windsurfing, waterskiing and trout fishing. A small boat launch is located in the middle of the park. 

Potable water is available at the one drinking water well (with hand pump). There are pit toilets at this park. Firewood is available for sale.

  • Miracle Beach Provincial Park
  • Located halfway between Courtenay and Campbell River off Hwy 19a
  • Reservations accepted; a small number of first-come, first-served sites may be available

Miracle Beach Provincial Park is one of the most popular family camping destinations on the island. The ocean-front park is within a second-growth forest of douglas fir, alder, hemlock and maple. With 202 vehicle-accessible, spacious, private campsites, a children's adventure playground and hot showers, what else do you need? How about a beautiful safe and sandy beach that exposes fascinating tide pools at low tide. 

Miracle Beach has all the amenities that many campers crave. There is fresh water and flush toilets throughout the grounds and one hot-water shower building.

Each site is equipped with picnic tables and fire rings.  

Visitors to the park enjoy bird watching (use this popular guidebook to identify Island species), viewing the fish of Black Creek at the fish weir, exploring tidal pools, swimming and of course, the incredible views of the Strait of Georgia. 

  • Morton Lake Provincial Park
  • Located off logging roads approximately 25 km northwest of Campbell River
  • 24 camping sites all located adjacent to the lake
  • Reservations accepted for 12 of the sites; some first-come, first-served for the remainder

Vancouver Island has a well-deserved reputation for lush forests but we also boast outstanding lakes. Here on the island, the area northwest of Campbell River is known as “lake country” and that's where you will find Morton Lake Provincial Park.

Visitors to the park enjoy all activities associated with lakes including fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddling and swimming.  The popular Sayward Canoe Route - a 47km paddle and portage loop - can be accessed from the park. 

Amenities at the park include a boat launch, pit toilets, a cold water hand pump and picnic tables. 

  • Raft Cove Provincial Park
  • Located 65km southwest of Port Hardy off active logging roads
  • Remote, isolated and unmaintained park with no amenities

Raft Cove Provincial Park is an undeveloped, isolated park on the rugged northwest coast of Vancouver Island (be sure to bring your backroads mapbook!) The surrounding old-growth forest of hemlock, western red cedar and Sitka spruce is home to a variety of wildlife that includes river otters, black bears, cougars and wolves.

There is no vehicle access to well maintained sites - this is wilderness camping where all your gear must be carried in. The basic amenities are a couple pit toilets and food caches. Access to the beach is via a relatively short but technically challenging trail. The trailhead is located on the west corner of the parking lot. Be prepared for roots and lots of mud! 

Self-equipped visitors enjoy surfing, snorkelling, fishing and hiking in the area. Relaxing on the sandy beach, watching the wildlife while listening to the pounding Pacific Ocean also entices many. 

  • Strathcona Provincial Park
  • Main access to the Buttle Lake and Ralph River areas is via Hwy 28, north of Campbell River 
  • Main access to Forbidden Plateau area is via Strathcona Parkway near Mount Washington
  • 85 vehicle-access campsites at Buttle Lake
  • 75 vehicle-access campsites at Ralph River
  • Designated backcountry campsites are located at Bedwell Lake, Elk River, Della Falls and Forbidden Plateau trails areas
  • 4 marine backcountry campsites are available, accessible only by boat
  • Reservable and first-come; first-served sites available

Strathcona Provincial Park is located almost in the centre of Vancouver Island. Designated in 1911, it is the oldest of BC provincial parks.

Visitors are attracted to this park for the challenging hiking (find some of the best here), the vast wilderness and wildlife, incredible scenery and the spectacular Della Falls. 

There are a total of 160 vehicle-accessed campsites and many more opportunities for backcountry camping on the 250,000 hectares that comprise Strathcona Provincial Park. In fact, wilderness campers are permitted throughout the park provided they are 1km or more away from main roads.

Frontcountry camping amenities include a boat launch, picnic tables, fire pits, cold water, outdoor washrooms and firewood.  

BC Provincial Parks Located in the Central Island Region

  • Bamberton Provincial Park
  • Located off Highway 1 between Malahat and Mill Bay
  • Reservations accepted 
  • First-come, first-served sites available
  • Open year-round; limited facilities in off-season

With large well-maintained sites nestled among towering trees, and close proximity to the city of Victoria, it's easy to see why Bamberton is a perennial favourite of BC provincial parks. 

Bamberton is a mid-sized campground with 53 vehicle-accessible camping sites and a well-used day-use area. 

The warm waters and sandy beach are a draw for visitors but you are cautioned of the somewhat steep climb uphill back to the campground. 

The campsites are private and well maintained with picnic tables and fire rings. There are cold water taps and pit toilets located throughout with flush toilets in the day-use area. 

  • Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park
  • Located 20km northwest of Port Renfrew, immediately adjacent to Pacific Rim National Reserve
  • Access the park from the Caycuse River Bridge via Port Alberni, Port Renfrew or Lake Cowichan
  • Camping sites are not accessible by vehicle
  • Walk-in/backcountry/wilderness camping only
  • Backcountry fee is charged

Carmanah Walbran is one of the BC provincial parks that is best known for its massive trees. It is home to some of the world's largest spruce trees and oldest cedars (estimated to be over 1,000 years old). This photography book beautifully depicts the Carmanah valley

Walk-in sites with tent pads, picnic tables and fire rings are available. Wilderness camping is permitted at several locations upstream from The Three Sisters or you are welcome to camp short term in your vehicle in the parking lot.

6 pit toilets located throughout the park are the extent of amenities. 

This provincial park will appeal to nature lovers who enjoy challenging (primitive) hiking trails, isolation and the spectacular beauty of an old-growth forest. 

Note that portions of the park are open to hunting. 

A backroads mapbook is highly recommended when travelling in this region. 

Quintessential summer fun is what you'll find at Cowichan River Provincial Park. The Cowichan River is the place for swimming, canoeing, white-water kayaking, tubing and fishing on Southern Vancouver Island.

39 vehicle-accessible and 4 walk-in camp sites are found at Stoltz Pool Campground with group camping at Stoltz Pool and Horseshoe Bend.

Amenities include a boat launch, pit toilets and cold water throughout the park, The spacious sites each have a picnic table and fire ring and all provide easy access to the river.  Firewood is available to purchase.

Aside from the obvious water activities, visitors also enjoy walking and hiking the numerous nearby trails.

For pure relaxation, make sure Englishman River Falls is on your BC provincial parks bucket list. The campgrounds feature 104 treed sites lining narrow gravel roads with a playground in the middle. 

Nestled amongst old-growth and second-growth forest of Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock and maple, the pristine river and 2 spectacular waterfalls are the main attraction here.  Three kilometres of hiking/walking trails meander through the park, providing visitors with stunning views, particularly from two bridges that cross the river. The perfect swimming hole can be found where the lower falls end. 

Park amenities include firepits and picnic tables at each site, cold water taps and pit toilets throughout the park and firewood available for purchase. There is one flush toilet near the day-use area. No electrical hook-ups.

  • Gordon Bay Provincial Park
  • Located on South Shore Road off Hwy 18 on the shores of Cowichan Lake
  • Reservations accepted plus 4 first-come, first-served sites

For family fun, Gordon Bay should most definitely be on your list of BC provincial parks to visit this summer. With an adventure playground, sandy beach, warm lake water, hot showers and flush toilets - this just might be paradise!

The campground offers 122 reservable plus 4 first-come, first-served sites that are vehicle-accessible. Each site is semi-private with a picnic table and fire ring. Firewood is available to purchase.

Popular activities for visitors include canoeing, kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing, cycling, fishing, hiking, swimming and wildlife viewing. 

The stunning beauty and family-friendly recreation makes Little Qualicum Falls one of the most desirable BC provincial parks here on Vancouver Island.

The park has two separate campgrounds (upper and lower) with a total of 96 private sites. The park features a playground and 6km of hiking trails that meander throughout the lush forest and along the Little Qualicum River. The river itself is home to two spectacular waterfalls, that are a highlight of any visit.

Camps sites have a picnic table and fire ring; firewood is available for sale. There are pit toilets, flush toilets and cold water taps throughout the park. There are no electrical hookups. 

Visitors to the area enjoy fishing (this t-shirt is perfect for the Island angler in your family) in the river and swimming and windsurfing at nearby Cameron Lake. 

  • Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
  • Located just south of Parksville on Hwy 19a
  • Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are available in the shoulder season
  • 2 reservable picnic areas

Rathtrevor has got to be one of the most coveted campgrounds in the BC provincial parks network. Words can not adequately convey the majestic beauty of this place. Sitting directly on the Pacific Ocean on a long stretch of sandy beach, it is the ideal location to unwind.

The majority of Vancouver Island's coastline is comprised of rocky beaches and frigid waters. Here at Rathtrevor, the tide recedes nearly 1km at low tide and exposes a beautiful sandy beach which retains the heat on a hot summer day. When the tide comes back, the sand warms up the shallow waters, creating an irresistable ocean playground for the whole family.

The campground itself features 174 vehicle-accessible campsites and 25 walk-in campsites. All of which are within a 5 minute walk to the beach. There are pit toilets and flush toilets and three shower buildings on the property. There are also 3 playgrounds and a bike park. 

In addition to the beach activities, visitors enjoy bird watching (this is a terrific resource for bird lovers), hiking and fishing.

If you are looking for a relaxing seaside vacation, look no further than this BC provincial parks gem. Reservations required in summer months.

Sproat Lake Provincial Park features an upper and a lower campground. The lower is located close to the lake while the upper is across the highway, with access via an underpass.

The park is situated in the Port Alberni valley - one of the warmest regions of the island. It is a favourite for those who enjoy waterskiing and windsurfing, as well as anyone who relishes warm lake swimming and fishing. The park is also home to some prehistoric petroglyphs that are well worth viewing. See the map within the park for directions. 

Between both campgrounds there are a total of 58 vehicle-accessible sites. Fire rings and picnic tables are located at each site, with cold water taps and pit toilets throughout the park. There is a shower building and flush toilets in the day use area and a boat launch that gets very busy in peak summer months. 

  • Stamp River Provincial Park
  • Located on Beaver Creek Road off Hwy 4 in the Alberni Valley
  • Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available
  • Maximum stay is 14 days

With just 23 vehicle-accessible camping sites, Stamp River is one of the smaller BC provincial parks. 

One of the main attractions to this park is the beautiful 7.5 km trail that meanders through the ancient fir and cedar forest, parallel to the Stamp River. Hikers interested in this trail should be aware it is an in-and-out trail and to be prepared for the return hike. The Stamp River itself features several rapids and waterfalls and is renowned for its annual salmon run. 

Campsites feature a picnic table and fire pit. Firewood may be available for purchase. Cold water pumps and pit toilets are located throughout the park. No electrical hookups are available.

Taylor Arm Provincial Park provides seasonal, vehicle-accessible group camping only. The campground is located approximately a 10-minute walk across the highway from Sproat Lake. The lake is accessed via an underpass.  

The park has pit toilets and cold water hand pumps. The sites themselves are largely undeveloped but popular with local youth groups.

BC Provincial Parks Located in the South Island Region

  • French Beach Provincial Park
  • Located approximately 20 km past Sooke off Hwy 14
  • Campsite reservations are accepted. First-come, first-served sites are also available

One of my favourite of all BC provincial parks! There is just something about camping on the west side of Vancouver Island. The clean, crisp air, the crashing waves of the Pacific ocean and the array of wildlife sightings are truly exhilarating!

There is a large group campsite (for up to 50 guests) that has all the amenities you may need to feed that many hungry campers: hot water, double sink, woodstove under private shelter with an electrical plug-in, tables and counter space for food prep, a grassy tent area and a group fire pit with seating. I have fond memories staying in this park with my son's scout troop. 

The main campsite features 69 vehicle-accessible campsites, each with a fire ring and picnic table. Firewood may be available for purchase. The sites are set back from the ocean to provide some protection from the Pacific fury but well manicured trails will easily guide you to the beach.

The park does contain a children's playground. Cold water taps and pit toilets are located throughout French Beach park. There are no shower facilities or electrical hookups.  

  • Goldstream Provincial Park
  • Located just outside Victoria on Hwy 1
  • Separate entrances for group campground, main campground and day-use area - check with the park website for directions
  • Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available

Goldstream could be the poster child for BC provincial parks promotions. It has everything BC is known for - towering ancient trees, magnificent waterfalls, a meandering river, flowers, birds and fish! All that located just minutes from the provincial capital of Victoria. 

The park features a day use area with an interpretive centre that is very popular during the salmon spawning season. It also has a group campground and the main campground. 

The main campground features 167 vehicle-accessible sites, each with picnic tables and a fire pit. Goldstream has family-friendly amenities that includes an ampitheatre, a playground and 240 metres of bicycle pump track and skills trails suitable for beginners and intermediate riders. 

There are pit and flush toilets throughout the park as well as hot showers. There are no electrical hookups available. 

  • Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
  • Located between Jordan River and Port Renfrew on Hwy 14
  • Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available
  • Wilderness camping available all year long; China Beach campground is closed during winter

Juan de Fuca Provincial Park may be best known for the Juan de Fuca Marine trail but the park actually comprises three other noteworthy areas. They are Botanical Beach, the China Beach day-use area and China Beach campground.

There is beach and forest wilderness/walk-in camping available on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail at Mystic Beach, Bear Beach, Chin Beach, Sombrio Beach, Little Kuitsche Creek and Payzant Creek. Check the park website for details about each. Before venturing out in this area, I recommend this comprehensive guide that provides trail information and insider tips. 

China Beach campground offers 85 spacious, forested, vehicle-accessible campsites. The campground has potable water and pit toilets however there are no shower facilities or electrical hookups.

Visitors to the region come for the rugged and remote multi-day wilderness hiking, the serene, natural beauty and marine and wildlife viewing.

There is limited cellular service in this area.

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