Free Camping! Top Wilderness Camping on Vancouver Island

forest-recreation-siteThe Ministry of Forests and forest companies on Vancouver Island operate a number of wilderness camping sites that are accessible year round for free.

These sites do not offer water but they are free.

Some sites have firepits, pit toilets and picnic tables. Some have a boat launch and wharf. For detailed location and directions for these sites, pick up a map at any Ministry of Forests office, or check with regional tourism information offices.

Some of these forest recreation sites include:

SOUTH ISLAND

Bald Mountain – This small site located on Cowichan Lake, near Duncan, is accessed by a 1.5-kilometer hike from the Marble Bay entrance. The site, also accessible by boat, has picnic tables, firepits and toilet.

Clayoquot Arm Beach – This small, primitive site west of Port Alberni is accessed off a main logging road. Nearby is Kennedy River and Clayoquot Arm of Kennedy Lake, popular areas for canoeing.

Fairy Lake – This large site, east of Port Renfrew, is on a sandy beach. The site offers toilets and firepits. The area offers fishing and canoeing opportunities.

Father and Son Lake – South of Port Alberni, this small site is accessed by a steep three-kilometer trail. The site is in a small bowl surrounded by red cedar, fir and hemlock. The lake is good for rainbow trout. The variety of hiking trails are in the area offer spectacular views and wildflowers.

Knob Point – In Pacific Rim National Park, this small site is popular with canoeists paddling the Hobiton, Tsusiat and Squalicum lakes chain.

Labour Day Lake – West of Nanaimo, this small site is accessed via logging roads and a short hike. Popular with fishermen, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers, the area is home to a variety of wildlife including Roosevelt elk and loons.

Maple Grove – On the shores of Lake Cowichan, north of Duncan, this large, heavily-wooded site is near a fine-gravel beach. The site, which offers fishing and swimming, has picnic tables, firepits and toilets.

Nitinat Lake – Accessed via the Caycuse Main logging road from Lake Cowichan, this site is popular with windsurfers due to the predictable winds on the lake. There is a gravel boat launch at the site, suitable for cartop boats. The lake is connected to the Pacific Ocean.

Nixon Creek – On Lake Cowichan, north of Duncan, this large, wooded site has a fine-gravel beach, picnic tables, firepits and toilets.

Scout Beach – On the shores of Great Central Lake, north of Port Alberni, this medium sized site has camping, picnicking and other recreational activities.

Snow Creek – On the Taylor Arm of Sproat Lake, west of Port Alberni, this small site offers fishing and canoeing. The site offers a cartop boat launch.

NORTH ISLAND

Campbell Lake – This 15-unit site has a gravel beach, grassy areas and is suitable for large trailers. The site offers boating, fishing and swimming opportunities.

Mr. Canoehead – This five-unit site is between Amor and Surprise lakes on the Sayward Canoe Route. Access is by boat only.

Pye Beach, Pye Bay and Pye Lake – Combined, these three sites between Campbell River and Sayward, have 11 campsites, beaches and a cartop boat launch. Fishing and swimming are offered.

Muchalat Lake – North of Gold River, this large, 30-unit site has a boat launch and gravel beach. Offering fishing and swimming, the site is suitable for large trailers.

Cougar Creek – Between Gold River and Tahsis, this 40-unit site has a gravel boat launch. The area offers fishing, swimming and canoeing opportunities.

Alice Lake – East of Port Alice, this lakeside site has 10 units. The area offers fishing, swimming and boating opportunities.

Bonanza Lake (South) – This 14-unit site south of Telegraph Cove is in mature second growth cedar and hemlock. There is a nearby sandy beach. The lake offers windsurfing and fishing.

Canyon Lake – Right off the North Island Highway north of Woss, this is a day-use site only. The area has a picnic site, good swimming and a sandy beach.

Vernon Lake – Just before Woss, this is a large open site with 24 units. The lake offers fair fishing.

Woss Lake – This large 24-unit site has a sandy beach and boat launch, and is good for either tents or RVs. Fishing can be fair at times.