Canada has some truly spectacular scenery, including majestic mountains, magnificent waterways, and abundant wildlife, making it a great place for RVing and outdoor activities. If you live in Canada, or are planning to travel there, you may be wondering whether boondocking with your camper van, truck camper, or other RV is permitted in some of the most well-known scenic areas. The answer is… maybe!
There are many protected areas and animal species in Canada, so there are strict rules for where you can boondock (also called dry, random, wild, or dispersed camping), and it’s typically outside of provincial and national parks. Overall, using regular, marked campgrounds is preferred, but dispersed camping is possible on “Crown” land (federally owned land, similar to BLM land in the U.S.) and in public land use zones (PLUZ). If you are not a Canadian citizen, you will need a permit to camp on Crown land. Costs and rules vary from province to province. Citizens may camp on Crown land for free, up to 21 days on one site. The further you get away from cities and the US border, the more Crown land you’ll discover. Watch for ‘no camping’ and ‘private property’ signs. If in doubt, consider camping in another spot.
For RV boondockers looking for a wild place to camp in Canada this season, RVT is sharing six scenic destinations where boondocking is allowed. A camping permit may be required, so check the regulations before you set up camp. And always remember to leave no trace.
1. Stella Lake, British Columbia
Stella Lake is a recreation site located near Campbell River on Vancouver Island, about three and a half hours north of Victoria. British Columbia is one of the easiest places in Canada to find dispersed camping as they have hundreds of recreation sites throughout the province, maintained by the Ministry of Forests. Stella Lake features a few sandy beaches which are great for swimming, kayaking, or fishing. There are also several hiking trails in the area. Unlike many boondocking sites, this one features toilets, boat launches, and picnic tables.
2. Ghost, Alberta
The Ghost area near Banff is a popular place to play in Alberta. Don’t let the name scare you, the Ghost public land use zone is home to stunning scenery and many OHV, hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. The name actually refers to a Stony First Nations legend that spoke of ghosts searching the riverbank for the skulls of deceased warriors following a battle with the Cree. This area is often less crowded than some of the other spots in the region and is known as one of the top ice-climbing destinations in North America. It’s also a well-known area for wildlife watching.
Camping on Public Land In Alberta
3. Brule Lake, Alberta
Brule Lake is located near Jasper National Park, just west of Hinton, Alberta. With its spectacular views, it’s an ideal spot for those who enjoy photographing landscapes and wildlife. The lake is popular for swimming, fishing, and paddling. Riding OHVs and mountain biking are other favorite pastimes in the area and are permitted as long as riders remain on designated trails.
4. Aubrey Falls Provincial Park, Ontario
This remote space in Canada’s most populous province is a photographer’s dream and home to the spectacular Aubrey Falls. Aubrey Lake is also great for canoeing and fishing, with lots of inlets to explore. This is a non-operating provincial park, so it should be treated like Crown land.
5. La Mauricie National Park, Quebec
While there is no boondocking permitted inside the park, there are spaces nearby which may be suitable for dry camping. The park itself features over 150 lakes, many of which are great for swimming and paddling, plus vast forested areas with dozens of hiking trails to explore.
6. Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia/New Brunswick
The east coast of Canada is home to some truly spectacular scenery. The Bay of Fundy lies between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and features some of the greatest tidal variations in the world. Twice per day, over 160 billion tons of sea water flow in and out of the Bay. At low tide, over a kilometer of beach may be exposed, which is fantastic for those who enjoy long, coastal walks. Best practice: make sure you are back on shore two hours before high tide. Sea kayaking in the area is great for experienced kayakers. Coastal biking, hiking, and whale watching are also popular. There is Crown land near Fundy National Park, New Brunswick.
Bay of Fundy info
Boondocking in Canada is possible and there are many beautiful places to do it. Much of the Crown land in Canada is pristine, so we can’t stress enough the importance of upholding the “leave no trace” principle. Keep in mind that much of the land available for boondocking is far off the grid and may only be accessible by logging roads. Some spots might not be accessible for RVs at all. Check before you go. If you haven’t boondocked before, take a look at these middle-of-nowhere mistakes you want to avoid.
Interested in American destinations? You may find these articles about great boondocking destinations in the US helpful.
If you’re looking for an all-wheel-drive RV (or any other type of motorhome or trailer) to join you in the wild, check out the North America-wide listings on RVT.com.
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