Rainforest trail in Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island

A Camper’s Guide to Pacific Rim National Park

Rainforest trail in Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island

A Camper’s Guide to Pacific Rim National Park

Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island in Canada has camping options for RVs and tents on beaches, in rainforests, and more.

Hiking along the rugged shoreline and through the lush rainforests of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island is an experience like no other. One of Canada’s most popular tourist attractions, the park offers miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking, beaches for kayaking, surfing, and swimming (in a wetsuit), and amazing bird and marine life. Fully embrace this historic site by sleeping under the stars in one of three distinct areas, each with different camping options.

Long Beach

Long Beach offers the most developed campground in the park. Green Point, open from May 1 to October 9, includes 94 drive-in sites with flush toilets, showers, fire pits, and picnic areas. Reservations are recommended during the peak season from June to August. It also has 21 walk-in sites with flush toilets, fire pits, and cold water. Book your campsite through Parks Canada Reservation Service or by calling 1-877-737-3783.
With your spot squared away, prepare to explore 34,800 acres of beaches and the only rainforest in North America. Long Beach Headlands Trail is the most accessible. To get there, drive to Kwisitis Visitor Centre and follow the signs. Don’t miss Big Trees Trail, a boardwalk trail maintained by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations band. A long stairway leads to Hanging Garden Tree, the province’s fourth-largest western red cedar.
View of Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island

Broken Group Islands

Experienced campers will never forget a trip to Broken Group Islands. Designated camping areas on Hand, Turret, Gibraltar, Willis, Dodd, Clarke, and Gilbert Islands provide solar composting outhouses, but you’re on your own beyond that. Pack adequate water, and make sure you take everything with you when you leave. To reduce your environmental impact, Parks Canada recommends using biodegradable soap, ropes instead of nails, and a small camp stove rather than a fire for cooking.
A cluster of more than 100 rugged islands at the center of Barkley Sound, Broken Group Islands is popular with kayakers. Maneuver around quiet coves on relatively calm waters while watching for whales, eagles, bears, harbor seals, and marine life. If you need guidance (or a kayak to rent), book a half- or full-day trip with Majestic Ocean Kayaking or Tofino Sea Kayaking Company. Note: you can only access these islands by boat.

West Coast Trail

Experienced hikers and backcountry campers routinely visit the West Coast Trail for its challenging terrain and stunning scenery. The trail has designated campsites along the route. As with Broken Islands, respect the environment by leaving no trace of your presence. It takes six to eight days to hike the entire 45-mile West Coast Trail. Be prepared for an isolated, physically challenging, rewarding journey across deep gullies, steep slopes, and wet, slippery trails. Take time to plan your trip by studying maps and tide tables.
For those who want a lighter West Coast Trail experience, the park recently opened a third entrance, Nitinat Narrows, that allows for a two- to three-day adventure. Plan for the same rigorous conditions as the full hike.
To decompress from days of backcountry camping, end your trip with a night at the Ditidaht First Nation’s Comfort Tents at Tsuquadra Point. The canvas tents contain wood-burning stoves, cots, and outdoor decks. You can also learn more about the Ditidaht First Nation and its territory while you’re there.

Getting to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

You will need a car to get to most parts of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. From Vancouver, take a ferry to Nanaimo and drive along Highway 4 to the Tofino–Ucluelet junction to get to Long Beach. The drive to the West Coast Trail involves traversing gravel logging roads. The West Coast Trail Express bus runs from Victoria and Nanaimo. To reach Broken Islands, take a boat from Toquart Bay. If you don’t have much boating experience, it’s best to work with a boating or kayaking company.

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