We just returned from a week-long backcountry research trip in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, where we were checking access roads, hiking trails, and campgrounds.
As for campgrounds, B.C. is rife with very inviting options—from Vancouver Island to the Coast Mountains, throughout the Okanagan, across the Chilcotin Plateau, and along the west side of the Rockies.
We visited numerous West Kootenay campgrounds and stayed at several.
Provincial Parks are beautiful, but we think they’re expensive. For example, you’ll pay $18 per site/per night at Davis Creek, and $28 per site/per night at Kokanee Creek. Both these provincial-park campgrounds are on Kootenay Lake. They’re beautiful and well maintained. But $28 a night? Ouch.
Our book, Camp Free in B.C. (http://www.hikingcamping.com/camp-free-bc.php), gives directions to 350 free-of-charge campgrounds throughout B.C. It also describes 80 campgrounds where you’ll pay only $10 to $12 per site/per night. We think this is a reasonable price for these more popular campgrounds because they require significant upkeep.
On our drive through the Rocky Mountain Trench (Radium south to Cranbrook), we were happy to find a free-of-charge site at Johnston Lake campground on the Friday of Canada Day weekend. We had the beach all to ourselves.
On Saturday—the busiest camping day of the year in Canada—we found a free-of-charge site at Little Slocan Lake campground.
On Sunday, we found a site at Wragge Beach, on Slocan Lake. It cost $12, but it’s worth it. While there, we met the camp caretaker: Kim Roshinsky. He’s a long-time West Kootenay resident and an avid traveler. His enthusiasm for camping, hiking and fishing is infectious. His curiosity and sense of humour are refreshing. And he does a superb job of making people feel welcome and comfortable yet ensuring they respect the campground and their fellow campers.
We hope you’ll go camping in B.C. this summer. Not just once, but several times. Free campgrounds are numerous. And camping can be deeply revitalizing. You’ll return home soothed by the serenity of nature.