Backcountry camping is the perfect way to immerse yourself in British Columbia’s natural beauty. Some of the most popular backcountry parks have reservable campgrounds. In other areas, camping is allowed with a backcountry permit.
‘Backcountry’ means an area more than 1 km away from any highway or park road. Backcountry campsites cannot be accessed by vehicle, and they have limited facilities. They are generally used for multi-day hiking trips.
Backcountry camping permits allow you to camp in backcountry areas that do not have reservable campgrounds. These permits are not technically reservations and they do not guarantee you a place in any specific camping area.
Some parks do not require a backcountry permit. Also, some are not open for backcountry camping year-round. To find out when backcountry camping is allowed and if a permit is required, find the park’s webpage.
This page provides information on backcountry camping permits, to help you:
- Register for a backcountry permit
- Find out if the park you are visiting takes advance registrations
- Learn about permit policies and fees
For instructions on how to make a booking at a reservable backcountry campground, see one of the following pages:
- Berg Lake Trail reservations
- Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit reservations
- Garibaldi reservations
- Joffre Lakes reservations
- Mount Assiniboine reservations
- E.C. Manning Park: Buckhorn Campground reservations
For full details of our reservation policies, download the reservation services policies and terms [PDF].
Visitors to all BC backcountry areas are expected to follow the Leave No Trace outdoor ethics outlined on this page. For detailed information on Leave No Trace, see our backcountry guide or visit Leave No Trace Canada.
Register for a permit
Anyone 16 years of age or older can register for a backcountry camping permit by:
- Self-registering when you arrive at a backcountry trailhead
- Registering in advance via camping.bcparks.ca
For most parks, it is possible to self-register for a backcountry permit at major trailheads. Simply fill out the form supplied at the self-registration station and put it in the drop-box, with any requested fees. Self-registering is cash only.
Self-registration stations are not available at all backcountry trailheads. Check the park’s webpage for the availability and locations of self-registration stations. Where available, we recommend registering online in advance.
Registering in advance
Currently, 29 parks accept advance registration. For a full list, see parks with advance registration, below. Not all parks that accept advance registration have self-registration facilities, so registering in advance is highly recommended.
Parks with advance registration
Backcountry camping permits can be purchased in advance for the parks listed below. Most of these are open year-round but a permit may only be required at certain times of year.
Click the park’s name to see when you need a permit and how much it will cost:
- Cape Scott
- Carmanah Walbran
- Desolation Sound
- Dionisio Point
- Discovery Island
- E.C. Manning
- Elk Lakes
- Golden Ears
- Halkett Bay
- Inland Lake
- Jedediah Island
- Juan De Fuca
- Kokanee Glacier
- Main Lake
- Mount Robson
- Pilot Bay
- Pirates Cove
- Raft Cove
- S⨱ótsaqel / Chilliwack Lake
- Top of the World
- Tweedsmuir (South)
- Wallace Island
- Wells Gray
- Whiteswan Lake
Permit policies and fees
- For participating parks, you can register via camping.bcparks.ca up to two weeks before your desired arrival date
- You can register between 7 am PT on the first day of this two-week period and 5 pm on your arrival date
Example: Arriving on August 15 and staying four nights? You can register any time between 7 am PT on August 1 and 5 pm on August 15.
- As park conditions can change rapidly, we recommend registering as close as possible to your intended arrival date
- Permits cannot be transferred or resold, and attempting to do so may lead to cancellation without refund
- Backcountry camping permits cannot be cancelled or altered, and fees are not refundable
- Advance registration for backcountry permits is not available through the phone-booking service
- Many parks charge a small fee for backcountry camping permits
- To get specific information on permit fees, find the park’s webpage
- All fees must be paid in full when you buy your permit
- When self-registering at the trailhead, deposit your fee in the cash drop-box
- When registering online, you can pay with a credit or debit card
BC Parks is committed to protecting the environmental integrity and cultural values of the backcountry. To do your part, ensure your whole party follows the Leave No Trace ethics outlined below.
Minimize erosion and impact on plant life
Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Never scrape away leaves or needles. Avoid enlarging existing sites. Wear soft-soled shoes around camp. Clean your campsite when you leave. Take extra care around sensitive plants.
Observe wildlife from a distance. Store food, scented items, and trash securely. Never follow, approach, or feed animals or birds. Avoid wildlife areas during sensitive times such as when animals are mating, nesting, raising young, or hibernating.
Keep water supplies pure
Never use soap. Dispose of all water you use 70 m from any water source. Strain washing up water to remove food particles. Do not bathe or wash directly in natural water supplies. Use salt or baking soda instead of toothpaste.
Leave sites as you find them
Do not dig trenches, level sites, or construct furniture. Avoid damaging live trees and plants. Do not disturb or collect natural objects and cultural artifacts such as rocks, fossils, antlers, pot shards, and arrowheads.
Be considerate of others
Talk quietly in camp and on the trails. Do not trespass upon other visitors’ camps. Rest just off the trail, on a durable site. Camp away from scenic attractions and water. Please clean up after any less thoughtful people who have gone before you.
Dispose of waste properly
Pack out all trash and food waste. Bury human waste at least 20 cm deep and 70 m from any water or carry it out. Pack out all toilet paper. Urinate on the soil surface, away from vegetation and water.