Camping on north Vancouver Island

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of June 26-July 2, 1997
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Camping on north Vancouver Island
Question: I’m planning a trip to the north end of Vancouver Island to go fly-fishing, camping, and hiking. It seems hard to find a decent map. The Tourism Association gives a generic one with just roads. Can you help me with that and camp sites?

Tom Kline
Portland, OR
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: According to the Tourism Association of Vancouver Island (250-382-3551), there’s a very large map of all the lakes, rivers, etc., available for $5 from the Port Hardy District Chamber of Commerce. The PHDCC (250-949-7622) however, told me that the only map they have is a $2.95 road map which, I presume, is the one you already own. Map confusion aside, I suggest you get in touch with the PHDCC. Because the town of Port Hardy is the largest in the north island region, it serves as a jumping-off point for all-area recreation and its chamber of commerce will be able to give you solid, up-to-date information about where to camp.

One thing you should know is that forestry companies have developed a number of free, first-come, first-served campsites around many of the lakes and bays in the area. One of these, the San Josef campsite, is managed by Western Forest Products and is located just outside of Cape Scott Provincial Park boundaries. To get there, turn left on a dirt road just before you reach Port Hardy and follow the signs beyond Holberg to the campsite. It has 11 sites and a boat launch. Beware: You’ll be traveling approximately 40 miles over rugged roads, so make sure to take it easy on that rental vehicle.

A bit closer to town, on the other side of Hardy Bay, there’s a campsite on Bear Cove Road that has 71 sites with picnic tables, fire pits, free firewood, and a boat launch. At the head of Hardy Bay, you'll find the Quatse River campground with 60 sites and all the amenities. Bird watchers love this area because geese and ducks flock here for feeding. There's also a hatchery that you can tour. Call 250-949-9022 for information.

When you get tired of roughing it, try God’s Pocket Resort (250-949-9221). It offers a complete fishing package including all meals and accommodations, your own boat, tackle, fish cleaning, and a pick-up in Port Hardy.

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