Crown Land – Camping and Hiking Trails

Crown Land Camping in British Columbia is a resource accessible to all Canadian residents. Yes, not only in BC but in all provinces. This article provides resources of how where and when to use Crown Land. Leave a comment below with crown land questions and it will be answered!

Written By Clayton Kessler

On March 8, 2009

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Interested in Canadian and British Columbian free crown land camping and hiking information? I have found and listed here an executive summary of the official crown land rules and regulations for Crown Land use in B.C. (page 4 of the document) In the comments below, I have posted several links to amazing Crown Land mapping tools.

Winter Camping on Crown Land Pictures below!

Read on to learn what is considered legal activity in our forests and back country.

Activities that DO NOT require consent of the Recreation Regional Manager (See the third page of this document)

The following activities are not considered to be trail or recreation facility construction, rehabilitation or maintenance and do not require the consent of the Recreation Regional Manager before the activity may begin:

  • Basic access or travel through the forest or across the land, by individuals or groups, whether on a one-time basis or repetitive use of the same route.
  • Hiking on Crown land and the normal ground disturbance associated with this activity.
  • Route finding or route marking using ribbons, cairns or other directional indicators. The standard practice of nailing route markers to trees is an allowable practice and is not considered tree spiking under Section 55 of the Act (Tree Spiking Prohibited).
  • Minor, piecemeal or incidental clearing of brush or downed trees either on or off established trails. For example: bushwhacking, or clearing branches or deadfall that have fallen across an established path or trail.
  • Emergency repairs to a trail or recreation facility that is necessary to prevent imminent damage to the environment, the trail or the facility. For example: repairing a water bar on a section of trail where flooding is occurring and immediate repair is needed.
  • Emergency construction or maintenance of a trail when this is the only reasonable way of minimizing risk to personal safety.For example: placing a log over a stream that is necessary to cross to get out of the woods by dark.
  • Basic recreational use of a localized area, by individuals or groups. For example: camping on Crown land and the normal ground disturbance associated with this activity.
  • Construction of small, rustic structures of a temporary nature. For example: construction of rock fire rings, latrines, etc.

If you are uncertain whether or not your intended activity requires consent, please contact the nearest District Recreation Officer, or use the toll-free Enquiry BC line: (1-800-663-7867).

If your intended activity does not require consent, please proceed and enjoy yourself. Feel free to contact the nearest Recreation District office for information on public recreation opportunities, outdoor recreation etiquette or other assistance.

Winter Camping Pictures!

backpacks in quinzee  Dustin and his quinzee cooler quinzee dug out find your camp with Mazda beautiful winter pictures snowshoes and quinzee Dustin in deep Quinzee by Shaun Quinzee by Trenton quinzee door BC forest road winter conditions warm blankets for minus 20 outside


  1. Andrew

    This is nice article.

    I like camping.

    Camping safari is best outdoor accommodation and affordable to most people.

    Also camping enable you to travel to remote areas and overnight comfortably.

    Camping follows ecotourism, environment protection and nature conservation.

    While camping the damage to forest,wilderness area or national park is minimum and almost negligible. That is why wildlife conservation and ecotourism encourages camping.

    You can camp near river,lake or sea and inside forest,national park,mountain or village.

    In Tanzania, there are various vacation holidays. Tourists climbing Kilimanjaro do sleep in tents in machame, shira,lemosho and rongai routes.
    And on Tanzania wildlife safaris or walking safaris people can sleep in budget tents or luxury tents.

  2. YP

    Good day Folks.

    I’m planning a trip to BC for this summer. How can I get a map showing
    all crown lands of your beautiful province ?

    I’m gonna travel with a RV and would like to have access to Crown

    Can I have it by paper map or elect ?


    • Clayton

      Hello YP!
      A crown land use search provided me with the “frontcounter” bc telephone numbers that I used. I made a map of where the FrontCounterBC offices are located since these folks are so incredibly helpful, it is located here FrontCounter BC

      I dialed the Kamloops number at 1 877 855 3222 and was help by 2 different wonderful individuals who put me through to a provincial mapping expert (I won’t put his name here in case he was not supposed to give me this information) and he gave me a website for the FrontCounter BC Discovery Tool – The tool uses Google Earth and I still have to set it up properly on my Ubuntu operating system (I’m Microsoft free here at TracksAndTrails) 🙂 but in addition to the Discovery Tool I also found a very cool mapping system that will show all sorts of layers for Beautiful British Columbia and it is found here: Hectares BC

      Now I did my part and I really need your help in using these tools and commenting here with the steps that work for you. (or anyone else that is researching BC Crown Land Use) The Discovery Tool is the coolest mapping tool one will find on the internet for British Columbia Crown lands so please come back and let us know what works for you.

      Just a side note. a couple of years ago the Government of BC worked out a relationship with the Google mapping department adn that is why we have such cool mapping tools via the government….I think. 🙂

  3. Raymond Nelson Derickson

    Sunday March 13, 2011

    Clayton we have not seen each other since last fall at Derickson Lake and now I have submitted a note to Conservation Office of Kelowna and asked for the dead coyotes for skinning purposes. I am developing a plan for a trip to West Kettle River Valley this June or July, do you think the snow will be melted?

    • Clayton

      Hi Ray! thanks for dropping by. What will you do with the skins? I think the snow will be melted by the middle of June. I think that because whenever I have wanted to hike the High Rim Trail without snow (specially in the thicker forested areas) I have had to wait until June. However it does depend on how much sun and / or rain we get. Too much sun keeps it colder at night and too much rain will melt the snow but the wet areas will be so muddy or covered in water if there is too much rain. Always fun to watch and post here as various hiking areas open up for more exploration.

  4. Michael

    Hello Clay,

    In March of ’09 you penned an article entitled Crown Land – Camping
    and Hiking Trails, in it you reference a document published by the
    government of Canada stating it is legal within certain limits to camp on crown land, unfortunately the article link has been changed and now takes you to a front door page for Recreation Sites and Trails BC and I cannot find the actual document. The reason I’d like to have this document is I was told by an RCMP officer that camping on crown land is illegal and considered squatting and I was forced to vacate and cut my trip short, I would like to have the information on hand so that if I ever have an issue in the future I have some recourse, thanks for the help it is most appreciated.

    • Clayton

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you so much for letting me know about the broken link. I have fixed it now! It seems as if the document that I had linked to and quoted from before is taken down since even Google cannot find it when I do an “exact match” search. I did find a Government doc that has the same crown land use information but it is on a page as part of an application to apply for managing or creating a recreation area. The page that I quoted as what you can do without authorization seems to be explaining section 57 of the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) and Part 3 of the Forest Recreation Regulation

      In the past I had seen a document that stated one could camp on crown land for up to 14 days. This period of time is stated differently in each province. Significant because crown land is federal but each province administrates it as the government sees fit. Section 57 seems to be giving “the minister” the right to kick you and I off crown land even if we are obeying the spirit and intented purposes of our crown land. I think a police officer is a representative of the minister so I guess the officer who kicked you out had the right to do so but it would be great if you could tell us more about this situation – where were you – in a city? close to major roads? was your shelter looking like a summer homeless shelter? or near a known area where homeless tent out – like near Springfield road in Kelowna?

      Finally I need to quote the number to call if you need to get further info:
      If you are uncertain whether or not your intended activity requires consent, please contact the nearest District Recreation Officer, or
      use the toll-free Enquiry BC line: (1-800-663-7867)

      • Michael

        Hi Clay,
        Those are good questions to have raised, and that’s the thing that surprised me, the area
        I was in is the road leading up to Chilliwack lake far away from any residence or even the correctional facilities along the road and not in the park land. What really troubled me was this is an area I frequent, I go up at least once a year and have been doing so for around 4-5 years and in the specific spot I was camped in as well and have never had an issue, now I realize the RCMP is an authority and we have to do what they say but his reasoning is what I have an issue with as he said specifically “camping on crown land is illegal and considered squatting” as to the look of the site it was me with a tent and my friend in his hammock, there were no lean to’s or other semi or permement structures and there are always multitudes of people camped all along the road.

        • Clayton

          Hello Michael,

          Thank you for the clarification. The right to enjoy our crown land makes me love our province and country. Hearing of our police force inaccurately, in my opinion, forcing you to move when you are enjoying your rights and freedoms as a Canadian citizen is very troubling. I would not let this incident stop you from enjoying your right to enjoy a safe peaceful and respectful form of recreation in that area and if it happens again, get a video or pictures of something that can identify the officer so we can find out why this is happening and maybe educate a police officer in the process. ….maybe there is a big conspiracy and something is going on there that the authorities do not want civilians to find out about 🙂

          • Michael

            Hi Clay,
            Thanks again for you help clarifying this, next time (if there is one) I’ll have the presence of mind to find out who the officer is and specifically why he wants me to leave, I was just kind of shocked and caught off guard at the time, camping is something I’ve always taken for granted living here and I especially enjoy just going off into the wilderness, setting up and enjoying myself. I never thought about the conspiracy thing… hope I don’t start glowing in the dark… although that means I wouldn’t need my coleman! 😉

  5. Clayton

    That was hilarious Michael. Only problem was that I was reading during my lunch break. I hope if anybody else has experienced something of this nature we can hear about it here.

  6. darkest1

    clayton. that google earth overlay is sweet! we are planning to head to nakusp aug long weekend. the campgrounds are packed, but now we’ll find a sweet beach to call our own. after looking all over for crown land maps, i wish i would have checked the front counter google thing first. i’ll let you know how it goes. thanks again.

    • Clayton

      That is awesome! Nakusp is my hometown. 🙂 I will tell you a secret as well. Go up to hills and get into the end of Slocan Lake. Free camping there and only a few minutes from namusp – like 30. My brother lives there – close to the lake. One of my other brother lives in Nakusp. You will have no problem finding a peace of beach close to town. just pull up any hunk of beach. Half way between nakusp and the galena bay ferry at a location named – no other than – Half Way – is a beauuutiful peace of land on the lake for camping. just below half way hot springs as well.

  7. darkest1

    thanks for the tip. might check out those springs, or the leon ones. any sweet camping spots south of nakusp you can recommend?

  8. Drew

    Hi Clayton, love this great resource. I’m looking to go camping this summer and have a question for you. it says “construction of rock fire rings”, does this mean you can have a camp fire (unless fire-ban in effect) on crown land?

    • Clayton

      Hello Drew,
      Yes you are correct. The allowable activities include creating “natural” type structures such as a rock fire ring. However, I would encourage ultra responsible activity in regards to camping on crown land. For example, if possible, pack a backpacker stove of some sort so that a fire is not required. If a fire is required (a fire is a must have for me) encourage everyone in your group to leave no trace which would mean the dismantling of the rock ring and packing out of any half burnt cans etc. Make sure that a metre or two of ground is cleared of all flammable material before you build a fire and then keep your fire small – as small as possible. A wire saw or small camping wood saw is a great tool that will help your fire stay small by cutting your dead sticks down to short manageable sizes. I like to stoke the fire for night by burying half the burning area with dirt, or stacking up a few sticks so they smolder then burn down one at a time….quite an art to get it just right

    • Clayton

      In regards to the layers – not sure of kml – that would be cool – but I do know once you find the layers for crown land use it is pretty cool. I was looking to find the mineral rights and was viewing the many layers. The layers – once you do find the working version, also show special crown land use areas where tourism operators have grants to do things like heli skiing, backcountry lodges etc….I have been considering of applying for a crown land grant to use an backcountry area for a backpacking base on the Okanagan Highlands.
      Post a good url here if you find it 🙂

  9. Mount Everest Base Camp trek

    Hey there! I am doing a trip from thunder bay to the soo, was wondering where a guy could just pull over and camp for free! I am more interested in the camping in the bush than in a campground! was looking for around white lake for the first night, then maybe around montreal creek the second night! thanks for the time!

  10. Me

    Just want to draw your attention to the maximum 14 days as written in the Forest Recreation Regulation:

    Duration of stay at a recreation site
    13 (1) A person must not camp at a recreation site for a period exceeding 14 consecutive days unless authorized by a recreation officer.

    (2) For the purposes of calculating 14 consecutive days under subsection (1), a period of consecutive days is cumulative unless the person and their vehicle and equipment, as the case may be, are not present on the recreation site for a period of at least 72 consecutive hours.

  11. Spencer

    Hey Clayton,

    This has all been very eye opening and exciting as I head out to Kelowna this weekend for August long and my first attempt at crown land camping. I have used the discovery tool and found a bunch of great spots along the beach that are acceptable crown lands. Given that it is the long weekend and I am sure that police will be ready to stick it to anyone doing something out of the ordinary, I would really like to come prepared with some solid paperwork stating that camping on crown land is legal and justified. If you could equip me with a piece of legislation or any ammunition that would help my cause I would really appreciate it. I have seen the section 57 provisions and notice that they are simply what is allowed without an application (camping being one activity), but is there anything more specific and defined saying CAMPING ON CROWN LANDS IS LEGAL in a simple form an officer cannot dispute?

    Just to be clear, anything in the pink ‘crown land’ layer on the discovery tool is acceptable as long as it is not a city park, school or hospital?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Clayton

      Thanks for starting what looks like a very interesting discussion on Crown Land Camping! I don’t think there is anything that says specifically – crown land camping is okay because the definition of camping is subjective. If you stay within acceptable uses of crown land you should be fine. However; if you have found crown land near private land or municipal land, there may be laws that could affect your right to camp. I can’t think of any specific examples but maybe someone can help us get that clarified.

  12. Clayton

    I was camping on Lake Revelstoke this long August weekend at a crown land campground that is fairly well known – judging by the 13 RV’s and several tents set up and found this sign – posted by the BC Ministry of Crown Lands Sites and Trails etc – see photo:

  13. Marina

    Hi Clayton.
    I am the Rec Technician for the Recreation Sites and Trails BC program. I believe we chatted a few years back. Just a friendly reminder to please try and keep up with the content of your information, there has been lots of changes to our sites, management and content. I appreciate this is a bit of work, but good information is half our battle, and yours.
    Feel free to give me a call to discuss if you wish.
    I appreciate your efforts at continuing to provide public information on our recreation sites.
    w (604) 702-5762


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