Dispersed Camping in BC and Canada in general?

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Etoimos

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Hello Northern Neighbors,

I'm planning a month long trip from the US (entering Canada from Montana) all the way up to Tuktoyaktuk in the NWT. I have been trying to find some information on dispersed camping in Canada, but there does not seem to be much info out there on it. Everything seems to be geared towards camping in campgrounds, or backcountry backpack camping. Is dispersed camping a thing up there or is everything in designated campsites?

I have a tentative route mapped out, but would be fine with updating it for good dispersed camp sites. Below is a pic of my rig if that helps any and there will be one other Jeep travelling with me. Any info you guys can share would be really appreciated.
 

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Hello Northern Neighbors,

I'm planning a month long trip from the US (entering Canada from Montana) all the way up to Tuktoyaktuk in the NWT. I have been trying to find some information on dispersed camping in Canada, but there does not seem to be much info out there on it. Everything seems to be geared towards camping in campgrounds, or backcountry backpack camping. Is dispersed camping a thing up there or is everything in designated campsites?

I have a tentative route mapped out, but would be fine with updating it for good dispersed camp sites. Below is a pic of my rig if that helps any and there will be one other Jeep travelling with me. Any info you guys can share would be really appreciated.
Heyo! Dispersed camping is most definitely a huge thing in Canada, it just is not generally called that. I think most people call it Bush Camping.

In Canada, basically everything that isn't private land, a municipality, park or a reserve is known as "Crown Land." From my understanding, it's expressly legal to camp on crown land in one spot for up to two weeks at a time. Having said that, technically if you move your camp at all, the clock starts over.

You can camp just about anywhere you want as long as it's crown land and not one of the aforementioned categories, and even some of those can be camped with appropriate permission.

One of my favorite tools for finding bush camp spots is satellite imagery. It has served me well in the past, when used carefully. Wikiloc also has a bunch of good trails and sites.

Being a life long BC boy myself, I can likely steer you to some cool spots.
 

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I should add, if you are able to share your planned route, I would have an easier time suggesting specific spots that might be good.
 

Etoimos

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Thank you for the reply. I use satellite imagery a lot to find spots as well. I was just not sure what the rules were up there and the few areas I scouted out on Google did not look to have much bush camping. I"ll have to take a closer look. Here is a link to my rough route on Gaia GPS . Hopefully that works and you can see it. That is basically just a initial route and has not been modified to include dirt roads and trails. I'm more than happy to update large sections of it as needed.
 

CR-Venturer

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Thank you for the reply. I use satellite imagery a lot to find spots as well. I was just not sure what the rules were up there and the few areas I scouted out on Google did not look to have much bush camping. I"ll have to take a closer look. Here is a link to my rough route on Gaia GPS . Hopefully that works and you can see it. That is basically just a initial route and has not been modified to include dirt roads and trails. I'm more than happy to update large sections of it as needed.
Cool! I will try to load it up a bit later. Just working on the first test fit of my winch atm and the blazing heat is requiring me to take breaks lol
 
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MegaBug

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Check out the intertractive map at:
Hundreds of these Rec Sites are scattered through the province and often situated in beautiful locations (usually on great little fishing lakes!)
These Rec Sites are somewhere between dispersed and Provincial Parks and are very popular with the off road crowd in BC. They have anywhere from a single to a couple of dozen sites and are usually (but not always) free. They usually have fire rings, picnic tables and pit toilets but not much else.
These sites are usually located in more out of the way areas and often require some off road capability to access.
I highly recommend including these in your itinerary if you're looking for basic camping in wilderness locations.... just don't expect hookups, sani-dumps or even potable water at most locations.
 
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MegaBug

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BTW... we are also planning for the same destination from Victoria,BC and hope to be able to do it in August. HOWEVER .... we still need the Northwest Territories to open their borders so we can get all the way to Tuk.
The alternative IF the US/Canada border opens (which you would need too) is to head into Alaska and up to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay via the Dalton Highway. We would then head back down through Fairbanks, Denali and Anchorage to catch the coastal ferry (AMHS) back to the south coast in mid-September.
Will be a bucket list trip, if only ......
 
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Thank you for the reply. I use satellite imagery a lot to find spots as well. I was just not sure what the rules were up there and the few areas I scouted out on Google did not look to have much bush camping. I"ll have to take a closer look. Here is a link to my rough route on Gaia GPS . Hopefully that works and you can see it. That is basically just a initial route and has not been modified to include dirt roads and trails. I'm more than happy to update large sections of it as needed.
I'm taking a look at your route right now, and darned if you aren't coming right through my part of the world! I live just before Smithers in a place called Telkwa.

Just yesterday, the fam and I found an absolute GEM of a rec site on a little lake off the 37 highway. I also know a pretty decent spot right by the Bulkley river and a couple decent out of the way spots around where I live.

Looking at this route, it would be good to know how much off road you want to do and how far out bush you want to go. BC has by far more logging roads than it has paved roads, and you'll find that many of them, although quite substantial, are not on the map. They can easily be seen on satellite, and are usually documented on "Backroad Mapbooks" if you like paper stuff. This route has you sticking mostly to the highway, but if you wanted, I could probably suggest a route that heads up toward Babine lake before hooking back around to meet the highway again.

BTW, here's another extremely useful tool: ArcGIS Web Application

It's the BC land registry's map tool. It shows all the different parcels of land in BC and what type of ownership they have, ie. private, crown provincial, none, etc. which gives you a pretty definitive answer whether something is public land or not.

I note that your route takes you right by the famous BC ghost town of Cassiar. If you have any interest in ghost towns, mining or abandoned buildings, you owe it to yourself to visit there. The mining roads offer amazing access high into the mountains surrounding the ghost town as well.
 
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Etoimos

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Check out the intertractive map at:
Hundreds of these Rec Sites are scattered through the province and often situated in beautiful locations (usually on great little fishing lakes!)
These Rec Sites are somewhere between dispersed and Provincial Parks and are very popular with the off road crowd in BC. They have anywhere from a single to a couple of dozen sites and are usually (but not always) free. They usually have fire rings, picnic tables and pit toilets but not much else.
These sites are usually located in more out of the way areas and often require some off road capability to access.
I highly recommend including these in your itinerary if you're looking for basic camping in wilderness locations.... just don't expect hookups, sani-dumps or even potable water at most locations.
Thanks! I'll go research locations on that site. The further offgrid I am, the better. That said, I will need to refill my potable water from time to time. My trailer holds 31 gallons (117 liters). I carry a small portable toilet for those times when there is no other option, so that will need to be dumped a few times as well. Do the campground (government or privately owned) up there allow you to pay a fee to just dump if you do not stay a night?

BTW... we are also planning for the same destination from Victoria,BC and hope to be able to do it in August. HOWEVER .... we still need the Northwest Territories to open their borders so we can get all the way to Tuk.
The alternative IF the US/Canada border opens (which you would need too) is to head into Alaska and up to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay via the Dalton Highway. We would then head back down through Fairbanks, Denali and Anchorage to catch the coastal ferry (AMHS) back to the south coast in mid-September.
Will be a bucket list trip, if only ......
Yes, the boarders opening all the way will be major factor in this trip. I was contemplating doing the Dalton route, but figured it would be more of an adventure for us to stay in Canada as much as possible.


Cool! I will try to load it up a bit later. Just working on the first test fit of my winch atm and the blazing heat is requiring me to take breaks lol
Yeah, you guys are getting hammered with high temps! Mean while, down here in Colorado temps are pretty cool for this time of year. This whole week we have been in the low to mid 60°s (~15° C).

I'm taking a look at your route right now, and darned if you aren't coming right through my part of the world! I live just before Smithers in a place called Telkwa.

Just yesterday, the fam and I found an absolute GEM of a rec site on a little lake off the 37 highway. I also know a pretty decent spot right by the Bulkley river and a couple decent out of the way spots around where I live.

Looking at this route, it would be good to know how much off road you want to do and how far out bush you want to go. BC has by far more logging roads than it has paved roads, and you'll find that many of them, although quite substantial, are not on the map. They can easily be seen on satellite, and are usually documented on "Backroad Mapbooks" if you like paper stuff. This route has you sticking mostly to the highway, but if you wanted, I could probably suggest a route that heads up toward Babine lake before hooking back around to meet the highway again.

BTW, here's another extremely useful tool: ArcGIS Web Application

It's the BC land registry's map tool. It shows all the different parcels of land in BC and what type of ownership they have, ie. private, crown provincial, none, etc. which gives you a pretty definitive answer whether something is public land or not.

I note that your route takes you right by the famous BC ghost town of Cassiar. If you have any interest in ghost towns, mining or abandoned buildings, you owe it to yourself to visit there. The mining roads offer amazing access high into the mountains surrounding the ghost town as well.
If I could do the whole trip on dirt, I would! I really do prefer to be as remote as I can get on most trips. This trip is a little more challenging as the distance we have to cover in 30 days is a lot. What I would really love to be able to do is run dirt for large portions of the trip and hit the highways only to make up time and replenish fuel and food. I would be very appreciative of any suggests you might have on how we could hit more dirt and avoid the tourist type campgrounds.
 

Etoimos

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I was just looking at some satellite maps of the area between Babine and Augier lakes. It looks like there are lots of campsites in that area, but I can't figure out if that is public land or what. That area does not show up as a "parcel" on the Parcel Map. Anyone know if you can camp in that area (not in the Augier Lack Rec Site).
 

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I was just looking at some satellite maps of the area between Babine and Augier lakes. It looks like there are lots of campsites in that area, but I can't figure out if that is public land or what. That area does not show up as a "parcel" on the Parcel Map. Anyone know if you can camp in that area (not in the Augier Lack Rec Site).
Any land that doesn't show on the parcel map is crown land and therefore public. Crown land is the default for everything unless it's specified as something else.
 

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Oh, that's good info! Thank you.
It also looks to me like if you generally follow the shore of Babine lake to Fort Babine, you can go a long way through the back country and link back up with the highway at the Bulkley river bridge, Suskwa FSR. Also, that road system seems to keep going beyond Suskwa FSR to the NW, although some of the connector roads look a bit sketch. Might be a lot of chainsaw work to break through.
 

Etoimos

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Does anyone know if that is a public ferry crossing on Babine Lake, just a little south of the Babine Lake Marine Provincial Park - Pierre Creek Site? If so, I've not been able to find any info on it.
 

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