BC’s Best Kept Secret: The Rec Site

Morning View of Cowichan River From Caycuse Campsite

One of this province’s best kept secrets is the BC rec site. While most provincial park campgrounds book up far in advance, recreational sites are the last minute camper’s best friend. These off-the-beaten-path campgrounds are developed by BC Forest Service and are varying levels of rustic. Some are free and others cost about $15 a night. If you’re fine with that, you can hit the road with full confidence that you’ll find a spot to pitch your tent.

My fiancee and I did just that Victoria Day long weekend. We drove to Lake Cowichan in search of one of the six sites peppered along the river. After reading the descriptions in our Backroad Mapbooks guide, we narrowed in on Caycuse Rec Site because we could drive in, there are 27 sites, and it’s on a beach. We arrived late Saturday afternoon and were thrilled to find a vacancy for $20. The site has a pebble beach, and you can fish and boat if you’d like.

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Caycuse is a bit of a special site. While most rec sites are public, Caycuse is owned by TimberWest, so it’s not your typical rec site. It’s better maintained than most sites, with a porta potty, boil-before-use water, and picnic tables. And, unlike most sites, you can reserve spots. A lot of the spots were indeed reserved, but there were two unreserved, unoccupied sites when we got there, so we were happy to set up camp.

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Some things to note before heading to a rec site:

  • Bring firewood
  • Bring water or a water filter
  • Bring cash
  • Bring toilet paper (although Caycuse has toilet paper)
  • It’s generally pack in, pack out

If you’re interested in checking out Caycuse, it’s just off of the South Shore Road. Watch for the signs. Oh, and welcome to the BC campers club. We’re happy to have you.

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