We like to keep up a heavy diet of camping, fishing, and exploring in our family – whether it’s an easy drive past Squamish, or a 4×4 trip out to Skagit Valley, you can find us under a tarp ceiling in the rainy months or in a tent by the river during warmer days. These kinds of surrounding are where the kids can play for hours letting their imaginations run wild, and where the grownups can take a breather from the city life and chat around a well-made fire. Don’t be afraid to get dirty, bring plenty of spare clothes, and don’t underestimate the magic of baby wipes – keep that in mind and you can take your kids camping anywhere!
We don’t typically camp in ‘formal’ campsites, but I’ve tried to include those with bathrooms, etc. You’ll need to plan ahead to secure a spot, so click on the links to see how many are available (and maybe to find a Plan B spot close by in case it’s full). Please let me know of any of your favourites that should be included! Organized below from farthest to nearest Vancouver.
Skagit Valley (Provincial Park)- 2 hours 59 minutes
You can decide how far you want to go into this beautiful valley. There are campsites with actual bathrooms and fire pits (see the provincial park link above), or you can carry on to explore the more secluded spots along the river. This area has everything: fishing spots, gorgeous scenery, pools of water to wade into, spots to jump (carefully) into the water; but, one thing to keep in mind out this way is – MOSQUITOS. Like, crazy time. So bring your repellants, nets, and long sleeves!
Cheakamus River/Ashlu Falls – 2 hours 15 minutes
This is a pretty large and varied area around Whistler, where you’ll see a ton of kayakers barrelling down Ashlu Falls’ waters, plenty of fishing all along the River, and a variety of hiking trails plus camping spots around the Cheakamus Lake. You can decide how rough you want to take it, either in the nicely groomed campsite or somewhere along the river, where there’s always a spot open.
Chilliwack Provincial Park – just over 2 hours
This is a spot I haven’t camped before, just visited to climb over the many thick logs nestled around the lake’s edge, but many people have insisted it’s a great spot to bring the kids. I saw many a boat spinning around the Lake, while others quietly fished. It looks like a more traditional spot to take the kids, with plenty of families relaxing on beach chairs and playing with pool toys in the water. It’s an easy ride to get out there – just check ahead or get there super early to snag a spot!
Rolley Lake Provincial Park – 1 hour 14 minutes
Nope, this picture is not from Rolley Lake, because it’s the one spot I haven’t been to yet! This is a place recommended by a friend, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but it looks like a sweet spot to get away from the city in a flash. The Lake is serene for canoeing, and apparently quite warm for swimming! You’ll definitely find a lot of families on the shores here – so if you’re keen on a little happy busyness, this is the place for you!
Squamish Valley – depends
Yes, I am being vague about this spot on purpose. It’s one of our favourite locations to go, and if you’re willing to explore a little, and take the road less travelled (I mean that literally), you’re going to find yourself a sweet spot that is really going to meet your relaxation needs. We like to stay away from the busier places, and so it’s taken a year or two to find our perfect places. Just figure out what you really want to do on your trip. Is lake-swimming a must? Do you need a view of the mountains? Take it from there, and don’t forget to tell your friends where you’re going!
This is just a tiny sampling of the spots available out there, but a good place to start. Let me know your favourite spots, and happy camping!