When our kids were young we kicked off summer by heading to Bear Creek Provincial Park for the Canada Day long weekend. It felt like the official start of summer and you could almost be guaranteed to have good weather. Kelowna has a great Canada Day Festival in town with lots to do for the entire family and even without Canada Day you will most certainly be able to find something fun to do. The last time we were at Bear Creek was in 2004, this is largely due to the fact the park is hard to reserve, but these notes are based on those trips so the next time I am in Kelowna I will go back to check it out again.
This campground is great for young families. At least back then, the roads that looped around the campsite were one way, paved and flat so it’s was great for biking. There was also lots of green space and park area for games of bocci and lawn darts. They use to have a great kids program that we would go to every night and on Canada Day you could sit on the beach and watch the fire works in Kelowna. Bear Creek is also a short drive into West Bank or Kelowna so if the weather is not great it is easy to find something there to do.
This campground is right on Okanagan Lake and it has a great beach. The down side is that it is on the shady side of the lake which means limited afternoon sun. Okanagan Lake is also very large so it can be cold early in the summer season. The messy issue was, goose poop, and tons of it, on the beach, on the grass, and often on your shoes, it was a bit gross.
The sites at this park are small but they are private and many back onto green space. We really only stopped going because the park was so popular it became impossible to get a reservations. There is an overflow area but back when we went it was just a large parking lot type area, not a destination to head to.
The last time we went we stayed in the double sites 47 & 49 with a third family staying in 50. These sites were good because they backed into green space and because we were with 2 other families it gave us room to play games and gather together. Our kids were young at the time so being off the lake a bit was nice. That first loop is also nice because it is near the swimming beach and the amphitheater nature shows and ranger activities. Now that my kids are older I would pick the double sites of 55 & 57 or the single site 58. Although they do not have a lot of privacy they have a great view of the lake and area close to the beach,
7 Tips for Recommended Sites:
If you want a double site I would pick 57/55 or 30/31 if you want lake view but are okay to give up some privacy, they are large sites with great views.
For privacy, pick sites 52/54.
Double site 47 & 49 are good because they back onto the green space and have privacy.
The sites in the first 2 loops offer good shade but if you get into
The 3rd loop (81-122) this is a newer area and if I recall it was a bit more open and much sunnier. In Kelowna shade is appreciated.
For single sites try and get sites 58 or 59. Both are close to everything and 59 still offers good privacy.
Since this review Bear Creek has added power to some sites. I am hoping to go back this year to update the review for 2021
Paved roads, great for biking
Lake Okanagan – nice beach, great for swimming
Flush toilets and clean showers
Close to Kelowna and Westbank
Nature house activities
Good foliage between sites for privacy and shade
Lots of green space for activities
Playground for kids
Goose Poo everywhere on the beach and grass
The lake is cold and windy early in the summer season
Very hard to get into.
Sites in loops 81 – 122 are not very treed.
It is a drive to any activities or hiking
Things to do
Swimming & beach activities
Kelowna wineries (25 minutes from campground)
Westbank Wineries (20 minutes from campground)
Boat & sea-doo rentals rental (15 minutes from campground)
Golf – many great location within a short drive
Gyro Park – 18 minute drive – great city park and beach
We camped at this park at the end of August 2013. We were there with 3 other families which consisted of 8 adults and 9 teenagers. This state park is about a 2.5 hour drive from Surrey BC. We approached the park near dusk when the road was lined with deer. This made driving very interesting and nerve racking at the same time. We must have counted 150 deer in the short stretch of land from Greenbank along highway 525 to The State Park. I tried to take pictures but it was too dark and not safe enough to stop.Our family was staying in site 7 with friends in sites 35, 31 and 29. The sites are very treed and private with plenty of room for your trailer and an additional kids tent. If you are looking for sun you need to select your site carefully. Site 7 had very little sun and was long and narrow so it was challenging to get our awning up. It also backed onto the bathrooms and for some reason, of which I would rather not know, the ground at the back of our site never dried out. It didn’t smell like a septic field but I am thinking that had something to do with it. Our friends in site 35 also had a narrow site but it was very long with a large open area at the back for tents, campfires and picnic tables. They too got very little sun but lots of privacy. Site 31 was a good site, wide and long with enough sun to give you a choice of sun or shade. It was not as private but with the damp ocean air it is nice to get the sun. Site 29 had no hook ups but it was also large and open. The sites up on this row had much less privacy, & no hook ups, but were good if you were camping as a group.
If you are camping there to be on the ocean then you should know that South Whidbey Island Park is a steep hike from the water. The trails are very steep and challenging to get kayaks and beach gear up and down. Trust me, we considered leaving the kayaks for the next campers. There are a couple of very nice hikes right near the park. As a group we did the easy one which was suitable for dogs, kids and adults. It took us about an hour and a half and it was through some beautiful foliage and along a stream at points. Well worth a trip if you are staying in the camp ground. The web site also talks about the U.S. Navy jets, from the nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, may fly over the campground at any time for several hours creating noisy conditions for campers. We did not experience this but be aware that this may occur and, depending on your views, can have a uniquely positive or negative impact on your trip. Our kids would have thought it was great.
One day part of our group went golfing at the Navy’s Gallery Golf Course north of Oak Harbor. Its about a 40 min drive, but is very affordable for a course that has some ocean-side holes. It’s best feature was that we got to see up-close about half a dozen military jets flying to or from the navy base next door. Not great when they scream by during your back-swing, but they were definitely cool to see.
Another day all the adults went into Langley to check out the town and have lunch. Langley is located right on the water with amazing view of the Saratoga Passage. The town has some great artisan shops and several restaurants. It was a beautiful day and we were looking for a patio or deck. We stopped at Prima Bistro which had a great deck elevated above the street so the view of Saratoga Passage was fantastic. We had a very nice lunch, some great drinks and a lot of laughs.
8 Campground Tips
This campground is very small so if you have a trailer over 18 feet you will only have a few choices
For larger units site 31 is a good choice
If you are under 18 feet and need power try and get site 33. It has a good balance of sun and shade and is private.
Site 31 and then 34 would be my next top power site choices for smaller units
Sites 11 to 15 do not have power but are very private and close to the trails. These sites do not get much sun
I didn’t make notes on the sites 37 to 47 but it was a nice part of the campsite for tent camping. The sites in this area are small and mostly tent sites.
Located right on the ocean
Park features include old-growth forest, tidelands for crabbing and clamming
Amazing views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains (from the beach, campsites themselves are in the trees)
Easy hikes right from the park.
Power and water at some sites.
Clean washrooms and showers
Short drive to small ocean side towns for day trips.
Sani dump on site
Limited sun on most of the campsites.
Steep hike to the water
No open space for group games.
No double sites
Loud noise of the jets overhead
Things to do
Crabbing, clamming and fishing
Hiking right from the campground
Golf, several courses within driving distance
Small ocean side towns to visit within driving distance
I consider myself very lucky, 16 years ago my parents started their dream by selling their home and moving aboard a 52 foot cabin cruiser. We spent many great summer holidays on the boat, but as the kids got older there just was not enough room for all of us to sleep. That is where the camping came in. We would head over to Montague Harbour Provincial Campground and set up our sleeping spots. The trip to Montague starts with a short ferry ride from Tsawwassen to Galiano Island. This camping trip was a bit different because we were tenting. The cost of taking the trailer on the ferry was just too high, and because we planned to spend most of our time on the boat it was not necessary to bring it over. With only 28 sites in the park reservation are recommended during peak season and it does fill up early. There is an overflow field for tenting and this area does have a couple of hidden gem. The park does not have hook ups, it only offers pit toilets and half the sites are walk ins but if you make the trip you will not be disappointed.
Our first trip was August 2012 and we were in site 5, which is half of a double site, but it was all we could get. The site was big so sharing it with a stranger was not that bad, but we were far from the beach and the wharf. The second trip was in August 2013 when we booked walk in site 40. We had a view of the ocean, but the site was not very level and we felt like we were on display to all other campers. This is where the hidden gem comes in. We moved to the over flow area and found a site down at the water, in the very far corner, behind a tree and off on its own. It had beach access and complete privacy. We spent the rest of the trip at this site.
The campground offers a lot to do. There is a shell beach good for hours of beachcombing as well as plenty of walking trails. If you have kayaks it is a great harbour to paddle around and you will often see seals, otters and other sea life. Fishing off the dock is a very popular activity. Galiano Island is known for its artists and there are many small galleries and artisan shops to poke around. We also visited the local pub on the island and what is neat is you can catch the complimentary pub bus right from the campground gate and it will take to you to the Hummingbird Pub. The food and service at the pub wasn’t great but the bus ride made the entire experience worth it.
Here is my advise for this campground.
Vehicle access sites: if you are wanting a double site try to get 22/23. It is close to the beach, large in size and private, as it backs onto green space.
If you can’t get that site the second choice should be 24/25 followed by 5/6.
If you only want a single site try to get 21 followed by 17. They are closest to the beach and 21 is very private.
Walk In Sites: For those of you willing to walk into a site your efforts will be rewarded.
For double sites try 37/38, it has a great view, close to the outhouse, near the wharf access and is a good size. It is also the closest site to the parking lot for when you are packing things in and out.
If you want a single site try 34,35 or 36. Although they are not that private you will be rewarded with the amazing views.
The view sites go first so if you can’t get one of those 26,39 and 31 are all good options.
If you can’t get a site you are happy with, check out the over flow site I mentioned in the intro. There is no number on the site but take a walk because it has a picnic table and fire pit so you will know there is a site there.
Views from walk in sites
Beach – great for beachcombing and walking
Harbour – great for kayaking or canoeing
Group campground – its an amazing site but you would need a group willing to tent and walk in.
We have only been lucky enough to book into this campground once. It is likely the most popular provincial campground there is and if you want a site you will have to get up before 8:00, 3 months before the date you want to camp and start trying to book it, even then you are lucky if you get in. We were able to get the site because I logged on about the same time as someone was cancelling their reservation and I scooped it up. Otherwise, good luck!
We were there at the end of August and stayed in site 10. It was not a lake front site but we took what we could get. Osoyoos is always very hot, but the good thing is there is often a wind coming off the lake. It’s a hot wind but at least it’ a wind. The downfall with the wind, you can’t really tarp for shade and sometimes it is even risky to leave your awnings up . That being said, if you don’t like the hot sun, you likely are not booked in Osoyoos. One of the most unique things about the campground were the quails. They were everywhere and they very tame. The kids loved to watch them scurry around the site.
Haynes point has water on 3 sides but if you aren’t lucky enough to get one of the lake front site then you have to walk to the campground beach or drive into the great city beach. It is not a long drive into the city beach (Gyro Park) and there is also a great tourist strip with mini golf, ice cream stores and lots of other tourist attractions. There is not shortage of things to do in Osoyoos and being a desert climate there is always great weather to enjoy.
Here is my advise for this campground.
Recommended Sites: It has been 10 years since we camped at Haynes point so may notes are limited and likely very old. I will write what notes I have and update them the next time we are in the area. I noted double sites 22/23 as well as 27/28 as good. Best on their location they have the best chance as some shade and you can position your camping vehicle to increase the shade. They also had reasonable access to the lake. (that may have changed over the years.) For single sites I would try to get 20 or 25. They had good privacy, access to the lake and you could position your vehicles to increase your shade.
Dry hot weather is very dependable
Large warm lake that is great for swimming or boating
The world’s first national park is also one of it’s most famous camping destinations. Play the licence plate game, and you’ll collect cars from almost every US state and Canadian province. They have all come to enjoy Yellowstone’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife.
Yellowstone’s 12 campgrounds vary in terms of whether they can be booked in advance , whether they have hook-ups, flush toilets, and even whether you can stay there in a canvas-sided pop-up (due to all the bears.) There are also plenty of private campgrounds just outside the park boundaries. Be sure to research before you go.
Also research how cold Yellowstone gets; our mid-summer night-time temperatures were close to freezing. Bring blankets.
Just off I-5, an hour north of Portland, lies Mount St Helens, one of the “Ring of Fire” volcanoes that line the Pacific coastline. Us old timers remember the 1980 explosion so it seamed like an interesting place for one of our first family camping trips, back in 2004. We were not disappointed.
On the way home from Mount St Helens in 2004, we planned to check out the area up to Mount Raineer. We hadn’t been there before, or even heard much about it, but the AAA guide book mentioned a couple of Gems so we decided to check it out. I’m glad we did.
The Oregon Coast should be on every camper’s To Do list. Being 350 miles long, there are plenty of things to do on that list so you may want to break it into 2 or 3 different trips. While doing the north, we opted to camp at Nehalem Bay State Park because:
How often do you have trouble booking a campsite? Ever wonder why? Our rough research shows that there are indeed far more campers than there used to be, and the number of camp sites hasn’t grown to meet the demand.
Some interesting numbers
1) There are probably 3 times more campers than when I was a child
Further, camping is relatively more popular than it used to be. In 2011 over 18% of British Columbian households owned an RV. As recently as 2005, the Canadian average was just 12% of vehicle-owning households. Continue reading →