A road trip in Canada is one of the best ways to experience the huge variety of landscapes, culture and nature it has to offer. Places like Vancouver Island highlight the wild, vibrant side of Canada.
For some, it's a chance to undertake epic long term adventures, while for others, it provides the opportunity to spend weekends or vacation periods in beautiful places. For all, RV rental provides a cost effective and flexible option to travel this diverse country (and the rest of North America for that matter!).
In this article, we focus on the endless free RV camping options available on Vancouver Island, to demonstrate how you can make your RV trip even more affordable, and focus on experiences, rather than cost! Standard RV campsites cost on average, $40 - $60 per night, so by using free options you can potentially save a fortune!
Our free RV camping guide for Vancouver Island includes:
- How to get to Vancouver Island
- What your free RV camping options are
- How to find the best of those free RV camping options; and
- Some other resources for free camping BC 2018.
How To Get To Vancouver Island?
To get over to Vancouver Island, you can transport an RV using BC Ferries. For an idea of the price, a one way ticket for a vehicle more than 20 feet in length, between Vancouver City on the mainland and Victoria on Vancouver Island, costs:
- $57.50 for the first 20 feet
- $6.50 for every foot over that (at February 2018).
Some more information about schedule and fares can be found in the links below:
Once you're there, you can use the following free RV camping tips to minimize your travel costs.
Free RV Camping Options On Vancouver Island
As RV camping and travel specialists, we recommend seeking free camping (i.e dry RV camping, aka RV boondocking in BC) as much as possible, and book a paid campsite every few days to refill water and dump waste (if needed).
The best free camping options on Vancouver Island include:
- Official rest areas.
- Government owned forestry recreational sites.
Note: there's also a couple of equivalent style sites which not part of these categories, so we provide more information about them further into the article.
The Next Best Free RV Camping Options:
- Truck stops
- Retail store parking lots (e.g. free overnight RV parking Walmart, or RV overnight parking Costco)
- Even some restaurants allow overnight parking (in the hope you will also buy dinner and/or breakfast!).
Just remember to use good RV etiquette. You should always check to see if you are allowed to park there overnight and think about a small, affordable purchase to say thanks to the host for using their parking facilities!
Desperate Free RV Camping Measures
In desperate times, your last options are churches and police stations, but we don't recommend those options because you may have to move on.
Free RV Camping is Not Permitted in National Parks
RV Camping in most conservation areas is only permitted in designated and paid-for areas. Check the BC Parks website for more RV camping information.
Now let's look at how to find all of these free RV campsites on Vancouver Island!
How To Find RV Rest Areas On Vancouver Island
There's almost 20 free rest areas on Vancouver Island, but note that a few have rest limits. For example Buckley Bay Rest Area has a six hour stay limit.
To find out which ones will suit your trip, check the BC Government's interactive rest area map, with all the relevant information like facilities, number of camping sites, and access to large vehicles!
How To Find Recreational Forestry Camping Sites On Vancouver Island
The largest number of free camping sites is provided by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
There is more than 30 recreational camping sites on Vancouver Island alone! Many offer beautiful scenery near lakes, rivers, and forests. They can be found using the Ministry's online forestry archive which provides an interactive map showing, for each camp area, facilities, directions, and alerts (i.e. closures).
Just be sure to check the interactive map to make sure there is no RV camping fee, and it's not 4x4 access only (unless you have a 4x4 RV that is!).
Other Free RV Camping Areas On Vancouver Island
We also dug up two more free camping sites which aren't mentioned on the rest area map, or the recreation site map, but provide amazing free RV camping opportunities, including:
- Woss Lake Campground; and
- Strathcona Dam Campground.
Woss Lake Campground
Although it is a forestry site, it wasn't listed on the BC Government's forestry recreation archive, so we have provided the relevant info here:
Facilities: Open all year, 6 to 15 campsites, toilets, tables and trash cans.
Limits: Max RV length 45 feet, and one week stay.
How to get there:
- From the town of Woss, follow Rona road for a few kilometers towards Woss Lake.
- Continue until you see the sign for the campsite.
- Site details at Freecampsites.net
Strathcona Dam Campground
Facilities: 6 - 15 campsites near a small beach with excellent fishing, toilets, and fire pits.
Limits: Max stay 14 nights.
How to get there:
- From the town of Campbell River, take Highway 28.
- Continue west for approximately 25 kilometers, then turn right onto Strathcona Dam Rd.
- Continue until you reach the camping area.
More information: BC Hydro website
Free Overnight RV Parking Walmart
Walmart have a number of stores on Vancouver Island at Victoria, Duncan, Lanzville, Campbell River and Port Alberni. You can approach any of them to see if they mind you free RV camping or boondocking overnight!
For more information check out the online Walmart store locator.
Free RV Overnight Parking Costco
Although there is only one Costco store on Vancouver Island (in Langford, which is ideal for RV overnight parking in Victoria, BC), it too can be approached to see if they mind boondocking (should the extensive list of free RV camping options somehow run out!).
For more information check out the online Costco store locator.
Other Resources For Free Camping BC
Vancouver Island Free RV Camping Summary
There's so many free camping and boondocking options on Vancouver Island, you'll hardly need to pay for RV camping at all!
So for an affordable, scenic adventure, plan your next Vancouver Island vacation with an RV and use free RV camping rest areas and forestry recreational sites, and the extra couple of sites we mentioned. And if you urgently need somewhere to sleep, try Walmart, Costco and as a last resort churches and police stations.
All that's left to do is find an RV perfect for such an adventure! With an RV sharing company like RVezy, all your insurance and roadside assistance costs are covered, so all you have left to worry about is where to go, and where to relax!