RVers who crave green grass and oceanfront views with snowy peaks in the distance will want to stay at French Beach Provincial Park. French Beach Provincial Park is located on the west coast of southern Vancouver Island. The Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca help to frame the campground, providing campers with some of the most desirable views to wake up to.
The park is open year-round, and it is one of the few parks that permit winter camping. Although there are limited spaces available and the operating amenities are scarce during the winter camping season, staying near the ocean any time of the year can be exciting, especially during whale migration season. French Beach is the ideal whale-watching location. During the spring, gray whales migrate north to their feeding grounds, and then during the fall, the whales head south, so people staying at the park have ample opportunity to see these beautiful creatures pass by. Grey whales aren’t the only animals visible from the shorelines, either. Killer whales, seals, sea lions, and otters also live in the region, so the park is the ideal wildlife-watching location for animal enthusiasts.
French Beach Provincial Park is located 103 miles (166 km) southwest of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The route requires drivers to take toll roads and a ferry. From Seattle, Washington, United States, the park is located 216 miles (347 km) northwest, depending on the route you choose. From Seattle, drivers cross international borders and must take toll roads and a ferry to reach the destination.
British Columbia’s provincial parks do not assess daily parking fees, but there may be fees for other areas of interest within the park that are additional costs on top of the overnight camping fee. The camping fee has different pricing during the peak and winter seasons. Check the reservation website for pricing questions.
The French Beach Provincial Park campground is a pet-friendly campground with many spaces accommodating RVs and trailers over 32 feet in length. The campground operates year-round. During the peak season, campers have access to drinking water, pit toilets, a dump station, and firewood sales. During the winter camping season, the water, toilets, and dump station are closed, and there are not any places to purchase firewood. Not every site is open for camping during the winter, so site availability is limited. Every space in the French Beach Campground has a gravel driveway, a fire pit, and a picnic table. All campers should secure and lock up food and trash items at all times. Staying in a bear country means you need an extra level of safety for you and the bears! Generator use is permitted in the accessible campsites between the hours of 9:00 am to 11:00 am and again from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
People who like to get outside and experience nature during their visits to provincial parks will have plenty to see at French Beach. The trail system is small, but well kept, and the main trailheads connect to the day use areas and the campground, so you have quick access to the paths leading you into nature. The trails weave throughout the forested section of the park and along the beach. The posted signs guide hikers along their journey and keep people educated about the importance of conservation within the provincial park system.
Although the fishing isn’t the most popular activity at French Beach Provincial Park, it is still possible to try and catch a fish from the shoreline. If you prefer fishing from a boat, you will have to bring your boat to the closest boat launch at Sooke or Jordan River. Ocean fishing requires anglers to be aware of the tides. Tide Tables are available at local bookstores, and they are also posted along trailheads, so if you plan on going in the water, you will know the best time to work with the tides. Before heading to the water, ensure you have the proper saltwater fishing license. For questions relating to fishing limits, regulations, and restrictions, visit the Fishing Regulations Synopsis on the British Columbia Fresh and Saltwater Fishing website.
The water in the Pacific Ocean is cold, but that doesn’t stop people who love the ocean from dipping their toes in the water. Brave people who don’t mind the cold water often swim from the beach. If you want to try and brave the icy water, bring shoes that accommodate rocky beaches and pebbled sand, and remember that you are swimming in a part of the ocean that might be rough at times. Since there are no lifeguards on duty at the park, swim with other people around and only if you are an excellent swimmer.
Some of the most photographed birds pass through the park, making French Beach an excellent place to birdwatch. Although the birds that inhabit the area are not rare, people still love to see the few species that call the French Beach vicinity their home. The regal and majestic bald eagle often frequents the beaches, and visitors can hear their distinct high-pitched whistle or chip overhead, indicating that a bald eagle is nearby. Birdwatchers may also see osprey and other shorebirds if they wait patiently along the beach.
All guests staying at French Beach Provincial Park should come prepared to see wildlife. Bring your cameras, binoculars, and watch for photographic moments from your campsite or the beach. French Beach is known for its spectacular whale watching during the gray whale migration season. The opportunity to see whales increases during the spring and the fall. In addition to gray whales, species like killer whales, sea lions, seals, and otters inhabit the waters just off the park’s shoreline. Inside of the park, animals like black bears, cougars, minks, and raccoons pass through, so whether you are resting near your camper or walking in the sand, your chances of seeing an animal are probable.
Because French Beach Provincial Park is open year-round, the opportunity to explore the park during the winter is there for people who like exploring during the coldest time of the year. Most people traverse the park’s roads or trails on either snowshoe or cross country skis, but be aware that the trails are not groomed. Remember if you visit during the winter, restrooms and other facilities that use water are closed, and there are no services or park staff available during the winter.