Vehicle Accessible Local Campsites
Originally from New Zealand, camping has been a family favourite since I was a toddler. We would leave with great stories; one of the most memorable is watching a pod of dolphins surf the waves at the beach.
In this month of “Backyard Adventures,” we are going to cover some beautiful camping spots close to Fernie. Camping is a great way to get out into the wild and explore the outdoors. Tick off these excellent areas this summer with friends or family, each accessible by a car with reasonable clearance i.e. Subaru or bigger.
Now before heading out, I would highly recommend downloading an offline map app as a backup. Gaia or MapOut will do the trick and All Trails for hikes. Google Maps is not updated with all of the forest roads and you can get easily lost!
Visit sitesandtrailsbc.ca to view more information for directions and site amenities.
Bull River (free)
Est. 1-1.5hrs from Fernie.
This place has it all for the angler looking to experience the best of what a world-class river fishery can offer, or the family looking for an easy getaway into the mountains. Bull River is mostly untouched due to limited access sealing in the natural beauty. Forest roads follow the river upstream, however, there are no dedicated recreation sites along the river. Instead, you’ll have to pick one of the many pull-offs and find a site to set up camp. If you are lucky someone may have built a toilet and tables. It is an easy drive, and you will not be disappointed.
Summer Lake (free)
Est. 2hrs from Fernie. Tables, Toilets.
Summer Lake is my favourite place to camp and is one of the ultimate getaway camping destinations. The road in follows the Bull River, then branches off into the heart of the mountains until you reach the lake. There are three lake-front camping areas but beware, it can fill up quickly! Take your paddleboard, canoe, or float and spend the day on the lake exploring the shoreline and relaxing. There are several hiking opportunities accessible from the area (Ruault Lake or Fish Lake).
Lower Harvey Creek / Flathead (free)
Est. 1.5hrs from Fernie. Tables, Toilets.
This one takes you Southeast of Fernie through Morrissey and over Harvey Pass. The Flathead River Valley is abundant with an incredible diversity of species including Bighorn Sheep, Moose, Elk, and all kinds of fish. It is bear country so be bear aware! The Flathead is known for being one of the greatest ecological areas in North America with its watersheds protected from exploitative industry. There are hundreds of kilometers of forest roads, lakes, mountains, and rec sites to explore. I’d recommend visiting Lower Harvey Creek for a weekend then come back to explore, once you are familiar with the area.
Loon Lake Rec Site ($14/night)
Est. 50 minutes. Boat Launch (electric), Tables, Toilets, Wharf.
A beautiful, child-friendly lake located close to Fernie. It has all the amenities for an easy weekend getaway. Others close to Fernie (free) Burton Lake, Coal Creek, Hartley Lake Road, Sulphur Creek Rec Site.
Alternative: Top of the World / Fish Lake ($5 night/person) – Hiking
Est. 2.5 hrs drive + 1.5 hr hike.
Tables, Toilets, Firewood.
If you are looking for a simple trip to get into backcountry hiking, I would highly recommend Fish Lake. BC Parks does an incredible job at keeping this spot well maintained. The tent pads, firewood, and bathrooms are top-notch. I loved visiting Fish Lake because it was an amazing hike in and the journey made you feel like you were in the wilderness. There are several beautiful hikes from Fish Lake. Set up camp, drop the backpack, and take a smaller day-pack to explore these trails. You can also bike to the lake if you are feeling extra adventurous.
When backcountry hiking, ensure you take out what you bring in, and if camping you have appropriate food storage and know-how to properly dispose of human waste.