How do you camp for free in Canada? You can rent an RV and then head out into the wilderness to get to all the best spots!
In this blog, we often talk about the various campsites across Canada where you can park your RV for a few nights while hooked up to the sewer, water, and electrical resources provided by the campgrounds. Of course, in many cases, you will pay to camp in those spots and use those services. The costs might be somewhere in the vicinity of $35 to $60 per night. That’s much less than a hotel, obviously, but the costs still add up to one large amount if you stay a few nights. Therefore, in this post, we are discussing several spots in Canada where you can camp for free. Whether you’re staying in the classic camping tent or looking to rent an RV
, free camping is something any adventurer can get behind. Finding the sites, however, usually requires you to travel some more rugged-type roads, but usually you will discover your camping experience to be more peaceful and secluded than it would be at better-known campgrounds. So, let’s get into what it’s like to camp for free in Canada!
Locating Free Campsites
Before getting into some free campsites we know about, we are going to talk about how to approach the idea of free camping, which is also known as boondocking or dry camping. Canada is the second-largest country in the world, and so free campsites can likely be found in just about every province. British Columbia, in particular, however, is known for its free campsites that many campers enjoy telling one another about.
For the most part, free campsites in Canada are located in wilderness areas that can be somewhat difficult to reach. Access roads may be rough on vehicles that aren’t built for off-roading. In other cases, a site may be accessible only by parking in a certain spot and walking the rest of the way into a heavily wooded area.
While you are exploring the backcountry of Canada, looking for free campsites, you may eventually come across a site that seems suitable. If there are no “no trespassing” signs conspicuously posted around the area, it may be that you are on crown land, or land owned by the Canadian government. In this case, it would be free for Canadian citizens to camp there for up to three weeks, while non-citizens would need to possess a permit to camp there.
With that information in mind, let’s look at some specific free campsites you can find in the wilderness of Canada.
Nahmint Lake Recreational Site - Vancouver Island, BC
The first stop on this free-camping journey is Nahmint Lake Recreational Site, located on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island on the Pacific coast. Maintenance of the campsites and general vicinity here is managed by the Hupacasath First Nation peoples. The first thing you might notice as you approach the area is all the old-growth hemlock trees. They really give you a sense that you are going back in time to a rustic era from long ago. Tent camping along the shores of Nahmint Lake is certainly an option, but an RV can also access the sites.
Once you get to Nahmint, you will be truly transported to another world, one of peace and solitude. Activities along the scenic rocky shores include boating from the on-site launch, swimming in the lake, and, of course, fishing! However, be mindful of the fishing rules on the lake. Rainbow trout longer than 50 centimeters must be released back into the wild.
Jigsaw Lake Recreational Site - Northern BC
Our next free camping site can be found way up north at Jigsaw Lake, which you can access by driving about 110 kilometres north of Kitwanga on British Columbia Highway 37 and taking a right onto the road marked with a recreation site sign. Driving about 10 kilometres on this road takes you to Jigsaw Lake.
Like most of the free camping sites on this list, Jigsaw Lake seems like a place out of another time. Staring out at the lake will reveal a serene view of the tall trees along the other shores, as well as picturesque mountains as a backdrop. There are four free campsites at the lake. Just like at Nahmint, activities here include hiking, canoeing and other types of boating, and fishing. We think you’ll enjoy exploring this remote area on your camping adventure.
However, don’t forget that, if you are traveling in summer, areas such as this will tend to be home to a lot of mosquitos and other insect pests, so bring repellant with you, especially if you are staying in a tent. You’ll fare better if you rent an RV in Vancouver and make some stops on your long drive north.
Valhalla Provincial Park - Kootenays Region, BC
The next free camping site we have for you is Valhalla Provincial Park in British Columbia’s Kootenays region. Valhalla is located west of Slocan Lake, in the Valhalla Range of Canada’s portion of the Selkirk Mountains. You can get into the park by the industrial roads that run through the forest, or by water. It’s out of the way, to be sure, but that’s always the tradeoff with free camping sites; you can enjoy more tourist-friendly campgrounds in a paid park elsewhere, but you will also have to deal with crowds during nice weather.
Valhalla Provincial Park was established in the 1980s as a way to protect the natural beauty of this area of southeastern British Columbia. That beauty includes huge lakes, jagged-topped mountains, and dense forests of red cedar and hemlock. As you camp for free here, in either a tent or rugged RV rental, you will want to take advantage of the boating, fishing, and exploration opportunities to be found. Also, it’s a great idea to have a camera along, as well, since you can capture some dramatic shots of the lakes, mountains, and unique vegetation on site. On top of that, you should be on the lookout for animals that include grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, whitetail deer, and golden eagles. Tombstone Territorial Park - YT Next, get ready for a change of scenery, as we head to Tombstone Territorial Park in the Yukon territory, in Canada’s extreme northwest. We are discussing a truly remote location here. If you are planning to stay in the park from the comfort of a motor home, it’s probably a good idea to pick up a Whitehorse RV rental and head up the Klondike Highway for about six hours, almost until you reach Dawson City. You will eventually turn onto the Dempster Highway, cross over the Klondike River, and head along that long, lonely, but beauteous road until you reach Tombstone.
Tombstone Territorial Park is definitely for the adventurists out there. Many kilometres separate the area from food and accommodations, so when you go, be prepared with extra rations and perhaps some spare tires. Once you arrive, however, you will be happy you made the trek up here. From the free backcountry camping spots to the rough mountaintops and permafrost landscapes, Tombstone is a visual treat to behold. You will traverse across breathtaking valleys between steep, rocky mountain peaks, never growing tired of the expansive views before you.
The free camping here will serve only to emphasize how truly at one with nature you are in this wilderness. It’s an experience like no other.
100 Wild Islands - NS
The final location in this collection of truly wild natural spots across Canada is the 100 Wild Islands, located about an hour outside of Halifax on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. The 100 Wild Islands are an archipelago consisting of mostly undisturbed coastal wilderness.
You can get an RV rental in Halifax and then head to the coast. Then, go by boat to travel around the islands, and you will come across white, sandy beaches, quiet coves, rainforests, marshes, and a variety of other ecosystems. You can pitch a tent directly on an island and spend a few nights as you take in the island atmosphere for miles around you.
Highlights from the 100 Wild Islands include Shiprock Island--where you can climb the 400-million-year-old rock cliff that composes part of the landscape--and Wolfes Island, where you may enjoy the sandy beaches or head over to Long Creek for some warmer swimming.
Don’t forget to check out the local wildlife while visiting the islands. You can see some truly stunning eagles, osprey, and many species of seabirds and other avian beauties.
Reliable RV Rentals in Canada
As you can see, people’s travels sometimes lead into the more unexplored corners of the world. There is nothing wrong with the more touristy sites and well-traveled campgrounds, but when you really want an adventure, free campsites are available in lots of places. You just need to know where to look and, secondly, have to be willing to traverse some desolate landscapes to get there!
Canadream understands all that. We also know that, when you are traveling hours and hours through the mountains for some exciting camping opportunities, you may just want the comfort of an RV to be right there with you. That’s where we come in. With locations spread across the entirety of Canada, we are always available to help you see the country on your terms. It’s what we’re about.
Contact us if you have any questions at all. Happy trails!