10+ unique Western Canada camping experiences you’ll love
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Camping season is here! May long weekend usually signals the first weekend of camping for the summer season in Alberta and BC, and it’s game on from then until September.
As any experienced camper will tell you it can snow any month of the year in Western Canada—especially in the Canadian Rockies—but your best bet for warm weather is June through August. (Although some hardy campers will extend the season through September, or even October with a camper or RV.)
As for where to go camping and what to do while you’re there, it’s hard to go wrong in Western Canada but over the years we’ve seen our fair share of camping across BC and Alberta. We’ve highlighted a handful of our favourite, lesser known campgrounds and camping experiences here.
And for more, you can find all our camping-related stories here.
From the prairies to the Rockies, the camping choices in Alberta are as diverse as they come. Our #1 tip: it can get busy in some parts of the province (particularly near the Canadian Rockies) so we suggest heading north, for more relaxed camping vibes, and that's where we're pointing you here.
Just note, with May 2023 wildfires in Alberta, you’ll want to check the fire situation to know whether or not it will affect your area. Wherever you camp, always be sure you check for fire bans before lighting up that campfire.
Camping in MD Bonnyville/Cold Lake
“It’s like the Okanagan of Alberta!” a friend of mine once described. And it is. Big sandy beaches by a lake that spans 373km2. You can take your pick of places to stay, with the MD Campground, Cold Lake Provincial Park or Kinosoo Ridge Resort all waterside.
Things to do: try out the new Kinosoo Ridge aerial park, grab brunch at the resort, and hit the beach or go fishing. Find out all about it in this story on camping in Bonnyville.
Away from the water, you can go berry picking and play one of the coolest rounds of mini-golf ever at Rocky Meadows (another cool camping spot too!).
Camping in Lac La Biche
Lac La Biche’s lakes and islands are deluxe for camping. Cruise into any of the sites at Lakeland Provincial Park for a remote experience, or camp on Alberta’s only island provincial park at Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park. For an extra special stay, check out this glamping adventure we featured last season, with Off Road Adventures.
Things to do: paddle the region’s many lakes, go birdwatching (pelicans frequent the area, among 200 other bird species) or hike through old growth forest at Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park.
Camp in Athabasca for a nature refresh
The charm of Athabasca is its wild natural feel, with small town friendliness and big northern explorer vibes. Get a taste for it in this feature.
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Grande Prairie camping trio rocks
Biking. Camping. Craft beer. Enough said? Head to Nitehawk Year-Round Adventure Park in Grande Prairie, for shuttle-access downhill mountain biking, sweet sites looking over the Wapiti River and local craft beers on the Nitehawk patio.
Things to do: see above ; ) and read about the experience here.
Camp in Peace River
There’s a reason it’s called the Mighty Peace region: because that’s how you feel when you spend time there.
Things to do: pitch camp here, maybe hang a hammock, and then hike to scenic viewpoints to take in amazing sunsets over the valley. Here’s your plan.
Métis Crossing camping
Pitch your own tent, stay in a trapper’s tent or in a skydome to get closer to nature at Alberta’s newest Indigenous tourism attraction, where you can make nature and heritage connections at the same time.
Things to do: immerse yourself in Métis culture by trying traditional activities like paddling a voyageur canoe or archery, taking a wildlife safari or listening to stories around the campfire. Read up on the experience here.
We know, camping in BC is one of the most popular pastimes for both Albertans and British Columbians too. You may think you know it all but even seasoned campers may not have made all these spots, and it’s always good to shake it up to ensure your groove doesn’t become a rut.
Camping in Arrow Lakes
Just beyond Castlegar, in the BC Kootenays, you'll find Syringa Provincial Park next to Arrow Lakes. When you camp in this unique grasslands ecosystem you’ll be in close proximity to all the adventure you could desire, next to big, warm lakes, cool climbs and chill BC small towns. Oh, and did we mention, wineries and hot springs??
Things to do: rock climbing and paddling are two of the most popular activities in the area, with great spots to do both. Or, watch the climbing scene from a comfy spot on the deck at the Lions Head Smoke and Brew Pub. Read up on it in this feature on Arrow Lakes.
Camping in Vernon
With the abundance of the Okanagan Valley, its lakes, trails and warm interior BC weather, Vernon makes an excellent basecamp. Check out Ellison Provincial Park or Dutch’s Campground, or if you’re looking to do some lift-serviced mountain biking, there’s a campground right at SilverStar Resort. Find more with these Vernon campground listings from Tourism Vernon.
Things to do: live your best lake life on Okanagan or Kalamalka Lake. There’s a SUP scene on Kal, with the Kal SUP Classic each year. Hit the trails with this guide, maybe have a picnic and definitely get to know Vernon’s soulful side in this feature on the local Indigenous culture.
Camping on Vancouver Island’s west coast
Ok, no surprise here. Straight up, camping on Vancouver Island is unbeatable. With its temperate climate, friendly beaches, lush forests and a lifetime's worth of hiking and paddling, your days will be full and your stays will be epic.
But the island can fill up fast in summer and finding those prime spots isn’t easy. We recommend taking a new spin on your island adventures, with the #IndigenousCoastBC Coastal Route.
Things to do: kayak the Broken Group Islands from Secret Beach, visit 5500-year old Kiixin village with a Kiixin Tour, and surf or go paddleboarding at Tin Wis.
It’s all in our story about the #IndigenousBC Coastal Route.
Camping in Port Alberni
Back in 2018, Vancouver blogger Miss 604 made a trip to Port Alberni for a stay at China Creek Campground. We still can’t get it out of our heads, and she even bookmarked a fave site for her camping bucket list.
Things to do: There are so many hikes, waterfalls, and cool things to do in the area that you could fill months. Port Alberni also has a rocking events calendar powered by the local music and sports scenes. Check out some of the season's best festivals, including the Five Acre Shaker, in this FestivalSeekers.com story.
Camping and outdoors
There's always more to explore. Read on to find more adventures and outdoor inspiration.