Camping is the ideal way to immerse yourself in British Columbia’s natural beauty. Whether you are spending a weekend at the lake or embarking on a wilderness adventure, there’s nothing like camping in B.C.
This page provides information on:
Types of camping
There are three main types of camping available in BC Parks
‘Frontcountry’ means an area within 1km of a park road or a highway. Frontcountry campsites are generally accessible by car and have facilities to help you and your whole family camp in comfort.
Frontcountry campgrounds offer unforgettable outdoor experiences for all ages and levels of outdoor experience. They are ideal for day-hiking adventures and many also have access to lakes and beaches.
‘Backcountry’ means an area more than 1km away from any highway or park road. Our backcountry campgrounds are ideal launching pads for multi-day wilderness hiking expeditions.
Outside formal campgrounds, there are many parks with backcountry tent pads and wilderness areas where open camping is allowed. If you are looking for an adventure in B.C.’s wild country, we can help you camp safely and responsibly.
For larger camping parties, groupsites are available at frontcountry and backcountry campgrounds. There are two types of group camping:
- Regular group camping, for parties that include at least 15 people who are 16 years of age or older
- Youth group camping, for parties of 12 or more, associated with a school, recreation centre, or youth organization in B.C.
Maximum group camping party sizes vary between parks. For information on availability of groupsites, maximum party sizes, and whether you need to book ahead, find your park’s webpage.
Many campsites and backcountry camping areas can be used on a first come, first served basis. Some of the most popular parks require advance booking, and booking ahead is always recommended, where available.
There are two ways to book ahead:
- Online through our reservation service (camping.bcparks.ca)
- At 1-800-689-9025 (Canada and US toll free) or 1-589-858-6161 (international)
There is an additional $5 transaction charge for all bookings, changes, or cancellations made by phone.
Depending on the specific park and type of camping, you may need to:
Reservations are required at frontcountry campgrounds in many parks. For more information, see the frontcountry camping page.
Some of the most popular backcountry areas and activities also require camping reservations. To learn more about reservations for a specific backcountry park, click below:
Some campgrounds offer first come, first served group camping. Most require advance groupsite booking, especially during peak periods. As groupsites are relatively limited, booking ahead is highly advisable, when available.
To see if a park requires reservations for frontcountry, backcountry, or group camping find the park’s webpage.
Backcountry permit registration
A camping permit is required for staying at any campground and is also required for camping in some wilderness areas. You must display this permit at your campsite or tent pad throughout your stay. For frontcountry and backcountry campgrounds, you can get a permit two ways:
- If you make an online reservation, simply print out your confirmation email
- Otherwise, you can get a permit when you check-in at the campground
For camping in backcountry areas that do not have reservable campgrounds, a backcountry camping permit may be required. For most backcountry areas that require a permit, it is possible to self-register at major trailheads.
Some parks accept advance registration for backcountry permits. Not all these parks have self-registration facilities, so registering in advance is strongly recommended where possible.
Some parks require a fee for backcountry permit registration. Fees can be pre-paid at parks that accept pre-registration, so you do not need to bring cash to the park. You must bring cash if visiting a park with self-registration at the trailhead.
To see if you need a permit, if you can advance register, and whether there is a fee find the park’s webpage.
Even if you book in advance, a backcountry camping permit is not a reservation. It does not guarantee you a spot in any specific camping area. To learn more, visit the backcountry registration page.
Most camping trips require you to pay some fees, especially if you are booking in advance for a popular destination. Fees vary between parks. Find the park’s webpage or download the camping fees and policies supplement for details.
Fees for booking in advance
When making a reservation, you will pay all fees by credit or debit card, including:
- Park user fees, which pay for the use of campsites and other facilities
- Transaction charges, which help us maintain the reservation service
Fees for first come, first served camping
When camping without a reservation, you can usually pay your fees in cash directly to the park operator when you arrive. At any campground that does not have on-site staff, a box is provided where you can deposit fees in cash.
Discounts and exemptions
We offer discounted rates and some free camping for people receiving certain provincial or federal government benefits. To see if you qualify, read more about discounts, on the camping fees page.
For more information on anything to do with park user fees and transaction charges, see the camping fees page.
We are committed to keeping BC Parks safe and beautiful for everyone to enjoy, but we need your help. For a detailed guide to safe, responsible frontcountry camping practices, see the camping and day-use guide page.
In backcountry areas, extra care is needed. We ask that all visitors familiarize themselves with and follow Leave No Trace wilderness ethics. For detailed information, see our backcountry guide page.