We generally don’t recommend leaving New West in favour of other cities in the region, but there’s something to be said for that old adage “Absence makes the heart grow fonder“. As the weather is heating up and school’s nearly out, here are five of our favourite campsites worth leaving New West for.
Fort Ebey State Park
This Washington State Park is located on Whitbey Island, and the drive alone is worth it. The Washington State Parks have not been nearly as chipped away at as the BC Provincial Parks, and it’s well equipped with nice spacious campsites, pay showers, flush toilets, and lots of cool historical things to poke around in. Originally built as a coastal defence in World War II, the gun batteries still exist and there’s a few nice walking trails suitable for all abilities. Pros: It’s huge and there are lots of different sites. Cons: sometimes jets from the nearby naval base go screaming overhead. Like almost everything on Whitbey Island, it is also great kite flying, so bring one along.
Hicks Lake (Sasquatch Provincial Park)
We’ve been going to Hicks Lake in Sasquatch Provincial Park, near Harrison Lake, for about six years. This is one of those sites that fills up super fast and so you might want to think ahead to make a reservation. The good news is that if you opt to just show up, there’s a good chance that the Bench Campground or the Deer Lake Campgrounds, both a part of Sasquatch Provincial Park, will have some space. it’s just far enough away that you feel like you’re on a vacation, but not so far that you can’t abort if the weather turns ugly. Pros: Super swimmable lake, nice forested sites, lots of geocaches if you’re into that. Cons: Mega popular and harder to get in. Longish access road is dirt and usually horrendously potholed so you need to take your time.
Porpoise Bay Provincial Park
If ever you’ve wanted to say that you went on a cruise for your holidays, this is the campsite for you. Porpoise Bay is nestled on the Sunshine Coast, and to access it you need to take the BC Ferries crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale. This is a great weekend camping trip, as the ferry to Langdale is not nearly as pricey as Vancouver Island, and it’s just far enough away from the City that you feel like you had a chance to get away. Reservations are a must for any long weekend, but otherwise it seems fairly easy to get a site. There’s a nice beach for hanging out on, and flat sites. Pros: very picturesque, away-but-close, and a good playground for kids. Cons: communal campfires rather than each site having a fire ring.
Monck Provincial Park
Monck is the furthest one in this list, and it’s a completely different climate than the typical coastal campsites we’re used to. It’s about a 4 hour drive, and is just past Merritt on Highway 5 on Nicola Lake. It’s a desert and can be very hot. Sites are quite exposed for the most part, and the ones with trees get snapped up fast. Make sure you have a look at the pictures when making reservations. Pros: very different climate than what we’re used to, great swimming lake (cold!), definitely feels like a getaway. Cons: Oh man can it ever be hot and sunny – take lots of hats and sunscreen. Long-ish drive for little kids – consider an extra day if you can.
I haven’t been to Long Beach since I was young, but my friend Wes Kinna has and insists it’s worth going back so we’re trying to plan a trip this summer. Wes says:
If you’ve ever wanted to say that you’ve stood on the edge of the world this is the park and campsite for you, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. It looks out from kilometres long beaches at the vast Pacific Ocean. The adventure to get there is all a part of the fun. Choose your ferry from Tsawwassen or West Van to Nanaimo and head north. At Coombs on the way you can stop and have lunch and see the goats on the roof. A little further down the road is the amazing Cathedral Grove Provincial Park boasting some of The largest trees in BC. Once at your destination beaches, hiking trails, a plane wreck,Whale watching, surfing or skim boarding at Chesterman Beach are all a short hop away. Pros: Camp privately or in the national park and breathtaking natural wonder Cons basically a full day to get there, ferry cost.