Freedom Camping on Vancouver Island

Josh Wicks

The only thing more adventurous and satisfying than road trip camping is freedom camping! When you find that special place to boondock or pitch your tent for free- it's a special moment. Here are some of the tried, tested, and true freedom camping locations on Vancouver Island.

Tahsis, Oyster Bay Rest Area, Kennedy Lake Provincial Park, Nahmint Lake Recreation Site, Arden Creek Recreation Site, Strathcona Dam Campsite (BC Hydro Campsite)

  • Tahsis, Canada

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    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Ever been to Tahsis? Well if you're ever this far North on Vancouver Island look for this highly recommended free campground. You can find it about 5 minutes before the actual town of Tahsis. Located right beside the Tahsis river, with some nice campsites, fire rings, and picnic tables. There's a great swimming hole too if you're in for a refreshing dip.

  • Oyster Bay Rest Area in Campbell River, Canada

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    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Oyster Bay Rest Area is exactly that- a place to rest, with toilets, picnic tables, and a very beautiful ocean view. Free to park and set up camp, or sleep in your vehicle for the night. Sometimes these secluded, side-of-the-road stops can be the best memories of a road trip.

  • Kennedy Lake Provincial Park, Canada

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    • the.vagrant.optimist

      This free campground is nothing special, but it is quite private as not many people come here. There is a beach on Kennedy Lake called Redneck beach, but don't let that scare you. To get here you take a gravel road from the highway for about 8 km. If you're looking for freedom camping close to Tofino this is a good option.

  • Nahmint Lake Recreation Site, Canada

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    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Some would say it's a challenge to get to this campground. There are some steep hills and quite a few potholes to navigate but once you arrive you'll be satisfied you made the journey. Nahmint Lake Rec site is like a rainforest with a nice beach. You can stay here for up to 2 weeks for free.

  • Arden Creek Recreation Site, Canada

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    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Arden Creek Rec Site can be found via dirt road access in Port Alberni and is open year-round. The amenities at this free campground are plenty: There are roughly 12 campsites with a fire ring, picnic tables, restrooms, and a boat ramp.

  • Strathcona Dam Campsite (BC Hydro Campsite), Canada

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    • the.vagrant.optimist

      You can stay up to 2 weeks for free at Strathcona Dam Campground. It's not a huge secret as there are about 15 sites here, located on the Campbell Lake Reservoir. What's great about this campground is that there are many smaller lakes and trails to explore nearby. It also has a small beach and apparently some good fishing.