The park offers a variety of camping opportunities for families, backpackers, kayakers and boaters. If you have never been camping before, front country camping (car camping) is a good place to start. If you’re looking for a little more adventure, hike into one of three walk-in sites or boat/ kayak to one of seven sites that are only accessible by water.
TIP: For a family-friendly “backcountry” adventure, take a passenger ferry from the Town of Sidney to Sidney Island. Pack your gear into one of the wheelbarrows provided and walk a short distance to the camping area.
Minimum Age Requirement for Camping Permit Holders:
In order to facilitate safe and enjoyable camping experiences in the park, and in keeping with British Columbia's age of majority, campers must be at least 19 years of age to obtain a camping permit at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
Facilities and Services
NOTE: Reservations for the 2016 season can be made starting at 8am on January 5, 2016!
Vehicle accessible camping: McDonald Campground in Sidney and Prior Centennial Campground on Pender Island.
- Reservations are strongly recommended. Book on-line at Parks Canada Reservation Service or by phone at 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783).
No reservations: Onsite registration on first-come, first-serve basis (cash only).
Winter closures: Gates are closed during the winter at McDonald and Prior Centennial campgrounds (camping is prohibited).
Things you should know about Prior Centennial and McDonald Campgrounds (PDF, 135 Kb)
- 10 backcountry camping areas with approximately 80 backcountry camp sites across eight different islands.
- Seven camping areas are accessible by water only.
Walk-in sites are also accessible by water: Sidney Island (1.2 km easy walk; wheelbarrows provided); Narvaez Bay, Saturna Island (1.7 km one way; easy walk); Beaumont, South Pender Island (1.6 km one way; challenging steep terrain), SHingle Bay, North Pender Island (.24 km easy walk).
- Payment by cash at self-registration stations.
- Sidney Spit sites are available for reservation, book on-line at Parks Canada Reservation Service or by phone at 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783). Sidney Spit also offers a group camping area (advance reservations required) for up to 30 people. For more information or reservations, please call 1-877-944-1744.
Winter closures: Backcountry campsites are accessible year-round and services are reduced.
Check out our 2015 Hiking, Camping and Boating Guide (PDF, 4.19 MB) to learn more about park facilities including locations and operating dates.
The equipment you bring on your camping trip will depend on whether you are driving, hiking or paddling to your campsite and how long you are going to stay. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Plenty of water - Potable water at car campgrounds only
- Garbage bags – Garbage facilities at car campgrounds only
- Tent and Tarp
- Sleeping bag and pad
- Warm clothes (wool and quick dry polypropylene are good for the climate)
- Hiking boots
- Rain gear
- Stove, fuel, and cooking utensils
- First aid kit
- Lantern, flash light or headlamp, and batteries
- Pocket knife
- Rope and duct tape
- Map and GPS (many smart phones come with GPS built in)
- Sun screen, sunglasses and hat
- Deck of cards or board games
- Cash (bring change) for camping fees
Make sure to check the Important Bulletins for closures and public safety alerts before you leave home.
When visiting Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, you are in an area where rescue services and medical assistance may take time to reach you in case of an emergency. Ensure that you have the level of training and experience necessary to take responsibility for your safety.
Some safety tips include:
- Be aware of your surrounding at all times. Do a visual inspection of your campsite. When camping in forested areas, keep an eye out for loose trees and branches that can fall at any time, particularly during or after wind storms.
- Camp in designated areas only and use tent pads where provided. Tents on the beach might be washed out at night or campers might be injured by driftwood.
Obtain emergency contact information and learn more about Visitor Safety at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
What you Need to Know
- The maximum length of stay at any campground is 14 days per calendar year.
- Quiet hours: 10 pm to 8 am. Consumption of alcohol is permitted at registered campsites only.
- Bring plenty of water and pack out all garbage (potable water and garbage facilities at car campgrounds only).
- Fires are prohibited everywhere in the park, including beaches and below the high tide mark. The exception is in the fire rings provided at drive-in campgrounds, except during fire bans (posted when drought conditions occur).
- Dogs must be on leash at all times and their droppings removed from the park.
Learn more about other National Park Regulations.
"Leave No Trace™" principles promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation and stewardship. Learn more about Leave no Trace™ in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.