6 FREE campsites you should check out this summer

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It’s getting to be that time of year again: time to haul your tent out of storage, sharpen up the marshmallow sticks and try to figure out where the heck you put that cooler and those lawn chairs. Yes, camping season is almost upon us, and we want to help you plan a great weekend away.

BC Hydro’s recreation areas are sort of like hidden gems amongst BC’s outdoor vacation spots. They’re scenic, well-maintained and FREE. Best of all, you can travel to most of them in your electric vehicle! In fact, we just took a trip to Stave Falls in a Nissan Leaf, an EV that makes zero emissions.

Driving an EV in BC is a smart choice for the environment and charging one costs way less than a tank of gas. BC Hydro has installed 30 public Fast Chargers across the province that charge an EV in just 10 to 30 minutes, which means you’ll be exploring unique destinations sooner than you think.

Stave Falls

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With serene beaches, misty mountain views and the faint sound of geese fluttering in the distance, Stave Falls will make you feel like you’re a thousand kilometres away from life in the city. In addition to the site’s natural beauty, the Stave Falls visitor centre is full of cool science experiments and century-old dam equipment. Speaking of electricity, you can make the drive from Vancouver off one charge of your electric vehicle. Very cool.

Distance from Vancouver: 130 km round-trip. Approximate cost of charge: $2.81.*

Jones Lake

Located between Chilliwack and Hope, this has been a V.I.A. favourite for years. It’s pretty high up in the mountains and the view of the nearby Wahleach Glacier is almost always intense. While the glacier makes for a bit of a cold swim, it’s refreshing to jump in nonetheless. The one obstacle is that the dirt road leading up to it can be a bit treacherous as it’s steep; it might be tricky to get here in an EV (until they make an SUV), so borrow a friend’s Hybrid SUV and make it an eco-friendly trip.

Distance from Vancouver: 290 km round-trip. Approximate cost of charge: $6.26

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Pend d’Oreille

This spot’s got everything! Swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking and, of course, camping. And campfires. And S’MORES (not included). Close to the border with the USA and near Trail, BC, this spot is a bit of a drive. If you’re planning on taking an EV here, you’ll want to stop at some Level 2 charging stops, which take 3 to 4 hours to reach a full charge. Pausing to charge your ride can give you a chance to stop and smell the roses, or explore parts of BC you might never have seen otherwise. And of course, where you’ll end up is idyllic.

Distance from Vancouver: 1,400 km round-trip. Approximate cost of charge: $30.24

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Strathcona Dam

If you’re on Vancouver Island for any reason, you’re going to want to hit this one up. Unlike most other BC Hydro campsites, it’s actually right below the dam, and the reservoir is the most scenic of the bunch. With about three stops to charge from Vancouver, you could easily make this trip in an electric vehicle. Charge along the way and see what else the island has to offer.

Distance from Vancouver: 530 km round-trip. Approximate cost of charge: $11.45

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Seton Lake Reservoir

This destination is near Lilloet on the Duffy Lake Loop, but can we just talk about the colour of this lake for a second? It’s nuts. And the area is suuuuper nice in the summer — almost like a slice of the Okanagan, but a little closer to the Lower Mainland.

Distance from Vancouver: 500 km round-trip. Approximate cost of charge: $10.80

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Gun Creek Campground

Not far from Seton Lake, this spot has a more remote feel to it. It’s a bit off the beaten path, whereas Seton feels a little bit closer to civilization. Choose your style of camping! Sometimes being closer to the asphalt is best, and we’re not judging you. If you’re getting there in an EV, make sure you plan ahead and map out the charging spots along your route.

Distance from Vancouver: 480 km round-trip. Approximate cost of charge: $10.37

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There are a bunch of other BC Hydro recreation areas listed HERE, and you can learn more about EV’s HERE. BC has the largest infrastructure network for electric vehicle charging in Canada with over 1,000 public charging options. When heading into nature, we feel that it’s best to keep it as clean as possible, so charge up your EV and start planning your next outdoor adventure!

*Approximate costs are based on the average range for the Nissan Leaf (100km = $2.16) and are calculated from a home charging station. Costs will vary for every model of EV.