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Backcountry camping

There are 11 designated camp pads located at Eric Lake, available on a first come, first served basis. There is no longer a campsite at Donaldson Farm.

Random wilderness camping is also allowed in this park.

Reservations and fees

Cape Scott Park is open year-round (check website for updates on trail conditions in case areas are closed for safety reasons). Fees are only collected from May 1 to September 30 when backcountry services are provided. 

Backcountry camping fee

  • $10 per adult (16+) per night
  • $5 per youth (6–15) per night

You can get a camping permit before leaving home on the backcountry permit registration service. Although the system does not reserve a campsite, the system provides visitors the convenience of prepaying for their trip and not having to carry cash. We encourage all visitors to register online so we can reduce the need to collect fees in the field. 

Self-registration vaults are located at the San Josef River boat launch and trailhead.


Wilderness camping

Random wilderness camping is allowed in this park.

  • No facilities other than food caches (at Guise Bay, Nels Bight, San Josef, Nissen Bight, and Eric Lake) and pit toilets are provided. 
  • Please camp on the beach whenever possible. 
  • If you erect a temporary shelter, please dismantle it entirely when you and return the site to its natural state before you leave so that others may enjoy the surroundings as you have. 
  • Please practice Leave No Trace camping ethics.
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Accessibility information

The trail to San Josef Bay has been re-surfaced with crushed material, and an existing section of boardwalk has been extended. The trail is now accessible for high clearance “BOB” style strollers and assisted wheel chairs as it is a rough gravel backcountry trail with some slopes that are steeper then the optimal grades for special needs access.

Boat launch

BC Parks’ boat launch is accessed via San Josef Heritage Park, but it is a BC Parks facility. It is for canoes and kayaks and small car-toppers only. The San Josef River is tidal at this spot so don’t plan on using the launch at low tide or you may be hauling over gravel bars.


While fires are allowed, we encourage visitors to conserve the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using stoves instead. Two communal fire rings are provided at Eric Lake and three at Nels Bight. Campers are requested to not bury their beach campfires. Several visitors have been burned where fires have been buried. Please practice Leave No Trace camping ethics.

Pit or flush toilets

There are 10 pit toilets available throughout the park. There are no flush toilets at this park.

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For your own safety and preservation of the park obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting, switchbacking, skirting mud holes, and trampling across meadows and boggy ground destroy the plant life and soil structure, thus increasing erosion and deterioration of the trails.


There are no designated swimming areas at Cape Scott Park, however the beaches at Nels Bight and San Josef Bay are popular destinations for swimmers. Please be aware of sometimes intense surf conditions and possible riptides. There are no lifeguards on duty.


Canoeing is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in San Josef Bay, where there is a BC Parks boat launch.


Kayaking is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in San Josef Bay, where there is a BC Parks boat launch. More experienced kayakers can make the trip from Port Hardy and around the Cape, finishing in Winter Harbour or Coal Harbour. San Josef Bay has also become a popular spot for surf kayaking, particularly in the spring and fall when waves are larger.


Fishing is permitted as per provincial and federal fishing regulations. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.

Wildlife viewing

The scenery in this park is incredible no matter where you are. The view from the top of Mount St. Patrick offers spectacular panoramic views of San Josef Bay and down into Sea Otter Cove and the unspoiled wilderness of Cape Scott Park.

Pets on leash

Dogs are permitted in San Josef Bay only. Dogs are prohibited in all other areas of Cape Scott including all sites on the North Coast trail. 

Warning: a wolf advisory in in effect.


Portions of the park are open to hunting for specific species. Please refer to the current annual hunting and trapping regulations synopsis for closures and regulations. All hunters must have valid licences and tags.

Winter recreation

This park is open year-round. The camping rules noted above apply, however there is no winter camping fee.