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Travelling by Motorhome and Boondocking / Camping in BC

Boondocking in BC? Travelling by motorhome and want to spend your vacation time but camp for free in BC? Well let us get the discussion started! Boondocking refers to parking at Walmart parking lots and other large paved areas where travelers can stay without being bothered. Well if you were driving a motorhome and knew that a free campsite was near by, wouldn’t you go a little farther to enjoy nature while camping for free as well? If the answer for you is yes, then lets find FSR or Forest Recreation Sites that British Columbia Forestry department has created and let folks know what they are like by posting a note below.

In addition to camping at forest service sites, I often see motorhomes camping on crown land like on the side of the road up Bear Creek Main FSR near Kelowna and Bear Creek Provincial Park Campground. I am sure there are many Crown Land places right near large urban centers that folks in a motorhome could spend a night at and at the same time I am sure that many travelers are simply not aware that they can park their motorhome for free and enjoy nature a lot more than at your typical boondocking site in the city.

boondocking or nature

Boondocking in the city or in nature?

As for family and friends – your first free camping destination in your motorhome, is right in my driveway!

About Clayton Kessler

In addition to TracksAndTrails, I am proprietor of First Page Solutions, the home of Kelowna's Digital Marketing Agency. It is the base for my team and I to build secure websites with responsive mobile design and help entrepreneurs reach top Search Engine Rankings through SEO. I live in Kelowna, let me buy you a cup of coffee and show you what I do. Just send me a text that says, "lets beat the competition on Google" to 1 (250) 470 - 8704

Comments 18

  1. Talitha Kessler

    Great article Clayton! Looking forward to camping in your driveway this summer. Do you, or any of your readers know a good place to rent a motorhome for a week this July?

    1. Leonard Kessler (Dad)

      Dad says, If you are not prepaired to Spend possibly up to at least $6,000 or more of your hard -earned money; find another way!

  2. Hey Lawrence and Talitha,
    Aunt Jean had some advice via FB – Tell your brother most RV companies have rentals. It is a good way to try this type of camping before taking the plunge of buying. Many years ago when our children were young we started by renting a camper and it just mushroomed from ther until today when we have our second 5th wheel trailer. Just go with it. Great fun!

    I will also try to find some RV companies to post here and help us out. Maybe we can get a deal…:-)

  3. Hello, I recently have started travelling full-time in my
    Motorhome. I have travelled from Newfoundland, Canada to Arizona and
    now am in Abbotsford, B.C.

    I came across this website while searching the Internet looking for
    boondocking places in British Columbia. I’d much rather explore
    particularly the Okanagan area while staying away from RV Parks and
    heavily populated areas.

    Most of the links of this site refer to areas that would not appear to accommodate a larger motorhome.

    I was wondering if you were aware of or could refer me to a particular campsite whereby it is ok (and safe) to camp for several days to a week.

  4. Hi there wandering traveler and adventurer! Before I get into an answer to your free motor-home campsite in the Okanagan question, I have to ask, since you are travelling full time in your motor-home, do you still own a home? I have heard of people downsizing their home after the kids leave the nest to travel by motorhome but they usually keep a small condo or apartment as a permanent residence. I would like to know if anyone just sells it all and makes their motorhome as “their home”.

    So thanks for emailing me via the contact form on the menu, if I get a good question like yours I like to remove the personal details and add it as anonymous to the appropriate camping forum here so others have the opportunity to either read about the same issue or share their thoughts in the comments.

    The links that you refer to above are forest service sites or as they are now called by the BC Tourism Ministry “Recreation Sites”. You are correct many of them do not have a lot of room for a large motorhome like yours. But many of them do! My hope is that after listing short bits of information about the recreation sites here, we will get more and more comments about each one.

    To help you enjoy your stay in the Okanagan I would recommend campsites several to try and others to stay away from due to the fact that several recreation sites in the area are major party spots or mud bogging and heavily used areas for recreation vehicles like motor bikes and ATV’s.

    British Columbia Recreation Sites are on Crown Land. Camping on Crown Land is free but there are rules to be aware of and you can get them all via my other Crown Land Camping post. Also my Free Camping post for British Columbia may offer more detail.

    In addition to the crown land rules listed in the article above, I believe that in BC the maximum stay is 2 weeks – in Ontario I read that it is 3 weeks.

    I could help you pick a location but in your message you mentioned that you want to stay away from heavily populated areas. This could mean a lot of different things. 🙂 So before I could direct you in an area that would be able to get your motor-home to, help me by explaining a few things like:

    -How far away from a town or city would be too far for you to drive as far as time spent traveling? 20 kilometers on a Forest Service Road or logging rd. could take up to an hour to travel by motorhome so that is why I differentiate how far to travel in “time” as opposed to distance.
    -Is a popular campsite location ok if there are only are couple dozen campers around or are you looking for like zero neighbours?
    -In the area you choose, like the Okanagan, do you prefer to stay near a particular town or city for awhile as you travel from campground to campground or do you sort of want to be on a route where you can see the area as you travel through? For example, in the Okanagan, you can go from North to South – Shuswap to the US/Canada border or West to East like Princeton or Merrit through to Grand Forks area?
    -safety – just for clarity, are you referring to wildlife like bears and cougars or the redneck type wildlife?

    Finally, I made a little post about camping in the Kelowna area that may be helpful.

    1. Charles David Parent

      Hi Clayton,
      Yes there is ONE person here who’s moved out of their house and now lives full time in their motorhome…ME!
      I have a 1988 Citation (28 ft) and have moved into it full time, as it’s easier to simply turn the key and go wherever I want without having to worry about setting my home to “away mode”.
      Also, it sure cuts down on the rent!
      The onlt drawback is the cost of propane, but it’s a lot cheaper than utilities for a house.

      1. Thank you! It is great to hear from you who are bold enough to be freed of typical home ownership go and subscribe to the mobility of the Motorhome lifestyle. How does living in a Motorhome affect your relationships with friends and family?

  5. Hi Clayton, Thank you so much for such a detailed reply.

    Although it appears to be quite a foreign concept to the majority of folks, there are many people who sell everything and make their motorhome their permanent residence. In fact, I read somewhere that there are over 2 million Americans (no stats on Canadians) who do just that. And these are not including the people we know as ‘snowbirds’ who travel South for the Winter months and then return to their home State/Province.

    There are countless Websites and Blogs detailing their adventures. More and more now I’m seeing younger people doing this also and working while on the road travelling. I could refer you to many of these Blogs.

    In my case I did just that. I sold my house and everything in it – yes, right down to the dishes. Everything I have (and need) is contained within my 31’ RV.

    I have found places in the States, particularly Arizona, whereby there is BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Land. It is often very close to a major City or small Town, yet has hundreds of acres of land whereby RV’ers boondock in such peace and quiet and spectacular scenery. So yes, I would like to be close to a town or city. Driving on an unpaved road in a large Motorhome is not fun, so I would love to find a place whereby the distance is not too far.

    A popular campsite is perfect. Again in the United States because there is so much land to boondock on there are some ‘unwritten’ rules whereby RV’er respect each other’s space.

    My preference usually is to settle in to a spot and then explore the area on my motorcycle.

    As for ‘safety’ – LOL – I was indeed referring to the ‘redneck type wildlife’.

    1. Thanks for the insight Denise! I never knew it was so popular!!! over 2 million – that is incredible – give me a few days and I will come up with a few more camping ideas that suit your situation.

      1. Thanks Clayton ! I’ll look forward to hearing from you. I’m thinking of heading to the Okanagan area likely sometime next week.

        1. Thank you for visiting TracksAndTrails and thanks for this extra link as per your email below. I also suggest everyone check out your blog! Nice Bike too!

          Clayton, Here is a link to another Blog – one of my favourites, that I follow daily. I read his adventures from Day 1 and actually met him in person while in Arizona. He’s only in his early 40’s and is travelling/living full-time in a small Class B motorhome – and working while doing this. AND he never goes to RV Parks as he always boondocks !!

          Thought you might enjoy it.

          http://www.ToSimplify.net

          http://WWW.SassysOnDaRoad.blogspot.com

          The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing?

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  7. As a person who travels and lives in an RV full-time, I would agree the cost is high. However, More importantly than that it is the ‘quality’ of the so called ‘RV Parks’. I have re-named them ‘RV Parking Lots’ as each one is parked so close to the next. Your ‘view’ is the next person’s sewer hose.

    Hence why I prefer to boondock which is far more enjoyable.

    1. What a fantastic comment Denise! Thanks. I am working on a few campsite suggestions. My difficulty right now is that many of the recreation sites are “up” out of the valley and will still have snow for much of may. Having said that, just above Penticton is my first suggestion. It is a site that is gorgeous and on Sunday, if you venture back towards town you can check out the “hit to pass” car rally / racing or whatever you would like to call it – it looks to be a ton of fun! I’ll get more details on a few sites. Do you prefer any end of the valley? Or maybe a few selections spread throughout….again it may be a little snowy yet a many sites.

  8. Clayton, I really have no preference as I like to explore the surrounding areas on my motorcycle. But being ‘warm’ is a must – hence NO SNOW !! LOL

    1. Hey Denise,

      My son was on the KVR near Kelowna which is at an elevation of around 1000 meters. That elevation is similar to many forest service sites in the area. When he was there, the snow was still around. Since then it has warmed up considerably! However, I am not comfortable in sending you to areas that will still be muddy and snowy. So In the Central Okanagan between Vernon and Kelowna – just off the Westside Road is a little known forest service site right on Okanagan Lake. This is the only recreation site on Okanagan Lake. It is not free but has a charge of $14 per night. The thing is that many of the sites do not have anyone collecting fees until a little later in the season. You might get lucky – as you can still stay there even if no one is managing it.

      Along the Westside Road are a number of FSR roads (Forest Service Road). If you liked the look of of some of the fsr roads and had a little time to explore you would find many sites near a creek or resevoir that are nice to park. Several such spots are off Bear Creek Main but the elevation gets higher and higher….again taking you into snow.

      As I write this I keep looking back to the map and all of the campsites that are free are located at higher elevations. Even the logging roads that are nice to drive and have nice crown land areas that are great for camping are just coming out of the snow now.

      You will enjoy Evely as the lake is right there and on the opposite side of Westside Road are endless biking opportunities. Just take the nearest forest service road and explore. I guess that may be an idea. Find a place to park your motorhome and then check out some the roads near by that lead west and you may find a good crown land site.

      Here is a link to Evely Recreation Site: http://www.tracksandtrails.ca/2011/04/free-camping-at-evely-in-okanagan/

      I will email you my cell phone # so if you decide to go out biking by yourself, I can check in on you to make sure you return safely. 🙂

    1. KVR is the acronym for Kettle Valley Railway. A popular book on the railway is “McCulloch’s Wonder”… This book tells the story of why the railway was built, the building of the line, the politicians and politics that dominated this era, and the downfall the Kettle Valley Railway. It’s British Columbia history at it’s finest.

      The railway begins around Hope and travels into the Kootenays. I think it has all been converted to trails now. There are many sections that are “must see” sections and a few can be found here: http://www.tracksandtrails.ca/tag/kettle-valley-railway/

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