Free Campsites at Recreation sites in BC, Canada

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Recreation sites allow you to escape to remote and spectacular Canadian destinations, free of crowds. 

Free campsites are offered at most of British Columbia’s recreation sites. The majority of the locations are away from the highway, near rivers, lakes and trails. Usually only locals know where to find them.

Enjoy the ultimate outdoor experience and travel Canada with a touch of adventure!

'going wild'
going wild

On this page:

Available amenities                                                   

Site use etiquette

Where to find free campsites in Canada

Accessibility of recreation sites

Maps with free campsites in British Columbia

Road Books for the free and independent traveller


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Available amenities

canoe dock at a recreation site
canoe dock at a recreation site

Recreation sites are basic and mostly without supervision. 
Many sites allow free camping, sometimes referred to as dispersed camping.

They generally offer the following amenities:

  • free spots for tenting or parking a vehicle (no hook ups)
  • fire rings
  • a boat launch
  • gravel /pit toilets
  • a picnic table

Most free campsites and recreation sites DO NOT HAVE

  • hook up for RV’s
  • potable or running water
  • paved road to access the site

Site use etiquette

  • Camping is allowed for as many as 14 consecutive days unless otherwise posted.
  • When you leave a recreation site, make sure it is in the same condition as upon arrival.
  • No commercial or group use is allowed unless you have written permission.
  • Although most sites are free, some do charge a small users fee (max $ 10 - $ 15 per party per day).

Dispersed camping should leave minimal impact on the environment.
Read more about the camping etiquette for responsible free camping in Canada.

Where to find free campsites in Canada

Almost 1,300 recreation sites are available within British Columbia’s most spectacular pristine wilderness setting.

Many of them offer free campsites. For your convenience, I’ve put these locations together in 5 maps.

How to check the location of recreational sites while on the road (and without internet access)?
Find all BC recreation sites in the BC Backroad Mapbooks. All BC recreation sites are listed and mapped in these books. Purchase a copy for less than the nightly price of a commercial campground,  and take the Backroad Mapbook along on your roadtrip.

Maps: recreation sites in British Columbia

The following 5 maps are organized from Eastern to Western British Columbia, based upon their geographic location.

1.    South Eastern British Columbia – between Alberta border and longitude -117.999
2.    South Central British Columbia – between longitude -118.000 and -120.199
3.    Central British Columbia – between longitude – 120.200 and -121.499
4.    South Western and Central British Columbia – between longitude -121.500 and -124.199
5.    Western British Columbia – west of longitude -124.200

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How to use the maps

Use the maps within this website or access each map in a separate full screen window.
For the latter, click the title above each map.

The maps each contain 2 or 3 layers.  Each layer covers a specific geographic location, organized by its longitude within British Columbia. 
Check or un-check the box of each layer to hide or show the recreation sites within the geographic locations.

The icons in the map tell you if the site is accessible by –unpaved- road (standard icon), boat (boat icon) or by trail (hiking icon).

Zoom in to enlarge a region. The zoom in/out icon is located in the left bottom.

Hold and drag
Hold and drag to move around on the map.

Site info
Click on a specific site to see a description of it. Make sure to read the information to find out if you can reach the destination with your means of transportation. The description will mention if there are free camping spots (often referred to as ‘sites’) offered.

Scroll down within the description box to see information about

  • accessibility,
  • available structures, and the
  • exact geographic location.

South Eastern BC – between Alberta border and Longitude -117.999

South Central BC – between longitude -118.000 and -120.199

Central BC - between longitude -120.200 and -121.499

South Western and Central BC – between longitude -121.500 and -124.199

Western BC – west of longitude -124.200

Accessibility of recreation sites

Many roads leading to recreation sites are unpaved forestry roads (gravel roads).
Some of the roads to more popular destinations receive some surface maintenance, such as grading and brushing. Other roads may be quite rough and not all vehicles are suitable for these types of roads.

If you drive a rental vehicle you should check your vehicle insurance policy regarding driving unpaved roads.

Not all hazards are signed. Be aware that road conditions can change at any time. Expect logging trucks, rough surfaces, potholes and cross-ditches on roads to remote locations.

Drive cautiously

Logging trucks use forest road. These trucks always have the right of way.

Download and print the guide for save travel in Canada: forest roads


Most recreation sites in BC offer fire rings. Before you make a campfire, check if there is a fire ban restriction in the area (check with British Columbia's Wildfire site). 
You have a legal obligation to ensure campfires do not lead to wildfires.

Download, print, and read the Guide to Open Fires in Outdoor Stoves and Open Fires.

Let’s preserve free campsites for future generations.

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For the Free an Independent Traveller

Check the road books I created for the free and independent traveller:

Road Book to travel from Vancouver to Calgary (one way)

Road Book to travel from Calgary to Vancouver (one way)

Road Book Vancouver to Victoria (round trip)

Road Book to Travel across Canada (one way)

Read more:

Road Books for Western Canada

Travelling by motor-home? Check my free RV camping page.

Wondering what kind of Canadian wildlife you might spot?

Where to go? Discover my favourite Western Canada destinations.

Drive the most scenic roads of the West.

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