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Vancouver island and Prince Rupert to Jasper.

Woohoo. Camping season is almost upon us. Last year we explored up to parksville and then over to Ucluelet and Tofino. This year our intention is to make a great circle and go from the Okanagan to the island, up the island and take the ferry up to Prince Rupert, then over to Prince George, then down through Barkerville etc and back to our home in the Okanagan via Kamloops. Alternatively if we are feeling up to it and weather is good we may carry on from Prince George to Jasper on 16 and then back thru Calgary and highway 1 to the Okanagan.

Our question is what Interesting places can you suggest we visit and camp at between parksville and port hardy on the island. If you have suggestions for interesting spots on 16 from Prince Rupert to Prince George we’ll take those too but after that we are fairly familiar with the route. We have lots of time. Any suggestions are welcome. We have a small combo as per the picture so we can get in anywhere. Serviced or unserviced camping is fine. We have a growing list of places but are looking to add to the list. We are avid hikers and in good shape.

Thanks in advance all.


Explorer II
Explorer II
Some more details on the ferry schedule. This was in May 2003, with Port Hardy departure around 6pm, 3 stops during the night, and arriving in PR late afternoon. Our ride to HG was the next evening around midnight, arriving with the morning mists. We got a cabin for both legs, but not for the daytime return ride from HG.

We got to Port Mcneill in the afternoon, and took the ferry to Malcom Island, and camped on the north shore. That was a nice ocean view campground with hiking to the point. The only downside was some local kids partying in the evening. Besides some history at Sointula (sp?), the island has some nice hiking, with cute locally painted signs.

The ferry also serves Alert Bay, with more history and culture sights, but we didn't stop there. It may also be a cruise ship stp. Since the ferry didn't leave until the evening we spent time hiking at Fort Rupert.

While I believe there's a RV park near the PR ferry terminal, I opted for the nearest Provincial Park (which had just opened), Prudhomme Lake. That was the first a nearly constant week of rainy nights. We toured Terrace and Kitimat, with short hiking at Lakelse. And Greek restaurant in Terrace (don't all BC towns have a Greek restaurant, as well as Canadian-Chinese?).

On the return we drove straight to Terrace, and got a motel for showers and laundry (and a tire patch at Canadian Tire). On the earlier return trip from Alaska we did the full tour at Ksan, but this time just spent time viewing the rapids.

It used to be that the summer ferry was nonstop and only 12 hr; now it's 16hr with one stop, leaving PH 7am, and arriving 11ish. For that I've probably try to get reservations at private campgrounds near both terminals.

Our return from Haida Gwaii had a bit of schedule change. For the first part of the week we camped on the north shore near Tow Hill, the second part as near Village of QC, with several day trips. A ferry employee stopped by in the evening and said we needed leave a day early. There was a delay in bring in a summer boat on line, so they had to juggle the schedule, and continue to use the Queen of the North (yes, the one that later sank) for this run. So we had to pack up early the next morning to get to the Skidagate terminal and wait. I think this was Victoria Day.

paulj wrote:
I hadn't thought about your charging needs. I've watched some electric youtubers, including one group that took a Ford Lightning on the Dalton in Alaska. My earlier cars where a 84 Trooper II, a S10 pickup, a 1st gen RAV4, and now a Honda Element. Mostly it's been tent camping, with some nights in the Element. Cape Scott was a short backpacking camping hike.

Yah. The rest of the province is well covered but the highway to Bella coola and the Alcan still aren’t finished. But that’s okay. To much for one summer anyway. Next year or the year after we’ll do the Alcan. Our plans include the Yukon but we still have a lot of the interior to cover including parts of the kootenays. All in good time.

Thanks again.

Explorer II
Explorer II
I hadn't thought about your charging needs. I've watched some electric youtubers, including one group that took a Ford Lightning on the Dalton in Alaska. My earlier cars where a 84 Trooper II, a S10 pickup, a 1st gen RAV4, and now a Honda Element. Mostly it's been tent camping, with some nights in the Element. Cape Scott was a short backpacking camping hike.

Some great suggestions in there. Some of those we have gone but some we are assuming to our list. So much to see on this tour this year. We are alloying 5 weeks, 7 if we carry on to Jasper. It’s going to be a busy summer. Bellacoola will have to wait till next year as BC hydro won’t have their Electric Vehicle charge corridor to Bellacoola finished until September. That’s alright though. The list is long enough for this year. :).

Thanks again for your input. I have some digging to do. :).

Explorer II
Explorer II
There's lot to see and recommend; may be it'll be easiest to enumerate my trips

1980s - Sunshine Coast (kayak Sechalt), Powell River, Comox, Tofino (beach camp), Victoria, Port Renfrew (Botanical Beach)

- With trailer sailboat, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Kayokot Inlet

- return from Alaska via Stewart, Terrace, PG, Jasper, Banff, Calgary

1990s - Powell River, Campbell River, Strathcona PP, Victoria

- Carmanah PP (major gravel road)

- Gulf Islands, esp. Ruckel PP on Salt Spring

2000s - Campbell River, Ralph River (Strathcona), Port Hardy, Cape Scott (gravel), Little Quilcene

- Port McNeill, Malcom Island, Port Hardy, 24 May boat to Prince Rupert, week on Haida Gwaii, PR, Terrace, PG, Wells Gray

- Williams Lake, Bella Coola, and back (lots of gravel).

- Englishman Falls PP, Mt Washington Ski area hiking, back roads from Comox to Port ALberni, Bayfield, Carmanah, Gordon Bay, Port Renfrew, Victoria.


In a sense I could pick almost any provincial park on the Island and find good camping and hiking. But trying to focus on Parksvile and north. Originally the drive north was a bit slow, but scenic along the coast. Now its freeway all the way to Campbell River.

There's lot to see around CR - Elk Falls PP, Strathcona PP, Quadra Island.

The next leg is through more remote working forest, with a scattering of Rec Sites and PP, but not a lot of sights close to the highway. Little Huson Caves is worth a stop.

At Port McNeill you are back at the coast, with a short ferry ride to 2 nearby islands, and other coastal fishing resorts. Closer to Port Hardy, there's nice beach hiking at Fort Rupert.

When we drove this in May, the run to Prince Rupert had several stops and took 24+ hrs; summer run I believe is 12 hrs. We had a small dog, who tolerated the long ride, but didn't enjoy it.

An alternative to PR would be Bella Coola; that's a shorter ferry, and over all I think the BC area is more interesting the PR (unless you go out to the Islands).

Between ferries at Prince Rupert we drove inland to Terrace, and south to Kitimat - that's industrial, but there's a nice big lake on the way.

Further inland on 16, New Hazelton and Ksan Village/Museum is worth a stop.

There's probably more to see along 16, but both times I drove it, I was pushing to get beyond Prince George, so didn't look too much at sights.

Anyways, it's been fun taking a mental inventory of many trips up there. I don't know if we'll get back to BC any time soon.

(p.s. this thread might be moved to the Canada/Alaska section, where Canadians may be able to add more)

Greetings PaulJ,

Your post was a bit of a godsend as my Saintly Spouse and I are planning a visit to Vancouver Island next summer and all advice is truly welcomed!  I gather you've spent some time there, Tofino (beach camp), Victoria, Port Renfrew (Botanical Beach).

If you are monitoring this, I'd love to lob a few more questions in your direction.

-Just one for starters,  we'll be bringing our 25' class C RV over to the island from Vancouver. If you had three nights to spend down there, before going north, where would you stay and what (of the many candidates) would do? 

I'm in charge of planning this part of a longer trip and I have a couple weeks on the island to play with.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions,


If you have some time to spend in Victoria, take in the Provincial museum. We ate not big on museums, but this one is worth the time. In my opinion, it as good as the American History museum at the Smithsonian  

safe travels. 

We have camped in Victoria a couple times but not done that. We’ll check it out.