While we sympathize with the city-loving folks whose idea of camping is a cabin and a warm bed, it's a shame to let the gorgeous Vancouver outdoors go unused. We just can't pass up lush forests, crackling fires, serene alpine lakes, whooshing rivers and roaring waterfalls -- they're like nature's soundtrack. Together they make up one of our favourite ways to experience Vancouver, and you can get it all via a campsite.
Here are five guaranteed beautiful spots to pitch a tent in Vancouver's provincial parks -- some car camping sites, others backcountry. Remember that some of these campgrounds are very popular, so reserve well in advance through www.discovercamping.ca. For suggestions from the locals, check out the Inside Vancouver's blog post about Vancouver camping spots.
Alice Lake Provincial Park
Best Campground: Alice Lake Campground
Type: Car camping
Highlights: Mountains, forest, open clearings and beautiful scenic lakes along the Four Lakes Trail are just a few amenities here. Popular with families, the Alice Lake campground features a swimming area and a lovely trail around the lake for evening strolls and a lively atmosphere.
Amenities: Playground, fire pits, cold running water, firewood, recycling bins, double sites, outdoor theatre, dump, pit toilets, flush toilets, disabled accommodations, free showers, hot running water
Golden Ears Provincial Park
Best Campground: Gold Creek Campground
Type: Car camping
Highlights: Gold Creek Campground is the Four Seasons of campgrounds, complete with luxurious amenities (for the outdoors, that is) and easily hikeable trails. Take the Gold Creek Falls Trail to glimpse views of the Alouette, Blanchard and Edge mountains, and spend an afternoon lazing about at Gold Creek Falls, a scenic area perfect for picnicking.
Amenities: Fire pits, cold running water, firewood, on-site camping host, recycling bins, double sites, covered theatre, pit toilets, flush toilets, boat rentals, disabled accommodation, free showers
Garibaldi Provincial Park
Best Campground: Garibaldi Lake
Highlights: You just can't beat this kind of wilderness -- alpine flowers, turquoise waters of a glacial lake, volcanic rock and monumental mountains bursting out of the ground. Plus, it's backcountry all the way, so those who are searching for that corner of peace and quiet, you'll get nearly 200,000 hectares (4,942 acres) of it.
Amenities: Pit toilets and nature (no drinking water, pack your garbage out, Leave No Trace practices)
Indian Arm Provincial Park
Best Campground: Granite Falls
Type: Backcountry/Float Trip
Highlights: Who said the only way to get to a campsite was on foot? Kayakers have been doing overnights along Indian Arm for decades, and few spots are better for camping than Granite Falls (there's no road access to the campground, by the way). The site sits beneath a 50-metre waterfall, a reward for paddling the18 kilometres up Indian Arm. During spawning season, visitors can see some 60,000 salmon work their way up the inlet for a not-your-everyday experience.
Amenities: Pit toilets, campfires forbidden, backcountry rules apply (Leave No Trace practices)
Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
Best Campground: China Beach
Type: Car Camping
Highlights: unset Magazine voted China Beach campground one of the top 19 sites in the Northwest, and who are we to argue? Situated right on the coastline of Vancouver Island, the campground is the gateway to trails that lead to scenic beaches and a wide-open sea. Better yet, camping on the beach is permissible, and there's nothing like sleeping to the smell of saltwater and waking up to hear the lapping of the ocean.
Amenities: Fire pits, cold running water, firewood, recycling bins, double sites, pit toilets, disabled accommodations