Gulf Islands National Park
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Introduction

Featuring various islands that each offers unique recreational opportunities, Gulf Islands National Park is the perfect destination for RV campers to enjoy their vacation with plenty of excitement and immense experiences. Located southwest of Vancouver, this national park offers RV campers wonderful opportunities to see seabirds and eagles swirling in the sky, view seals, otters, pods of porpoises, and orcas in the islet-dotted park waters, and enjoy many other activities such as boating, geocaching, picnicking, hiking, cycling, kayaking & canoeing, and swimming.

The 15 islands in the park provide excellent exploration opportunities for campers as they enjoy the sight of beautiful songbirds, seabirds, whales, scenic wilderness, resplendent mountain tops, and many other awe-inspiring features. Gulf Islands, once named the world’s best coastal destinations by National Geographic, is a must-visit.

Facilities and amenities at the park include RV campsites, group camps, hiking trails, swimming areas, boat launch ramps, potable water, picnic tables, pit toilets, and fire pits.

RV Rentals in Gulf Islands National Park

Transportation in Gulf Islands National Park

Driving

Gulf Islands National Park is located on multiple islands, hence accessibility by RVs, trailers, and other motorized vehicles is a little bit more complicated than simple drive-in parks. The islands in the park are accessible by RVs and cars using ferry services from Vancouver. Be sure to book ahead during the busy summer season. Winter is less busy, but occasional storms can disrupt ferry service.

Parking

There are three parking areas for RVs, trailers, and other motorized vehicles in the park at McDonald Campground on Vancouver Island.

Public Transport

A regular passenger/car ferry service runs from Swartz Bay to the Gulf Islands all year-round, and also from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal accessible from Vancouver.

Campgrounds and parking in Gulf Islands National Park

Campsites in Gulf Islands National Park

Reservations camping

Prior Centennial Campground

Prior Centennial Campground on Pender Island in Gulf Islands National Park features 11 pet-friendly campsites available for RVs and tents. No RV hookups are available at the campground. RV length limit at the campground is 35 feet (11 m), however campers with larger rigs can contact the park to find out if there is space available. The campground sits in the shade of a thick forest featuring ferns, fir, maple cedar, and alder trees. Amenities at the campground include potable water, pit toilets, fire pits, waste disposal, and recycling points.

McDonald Campground

McDonald Campground on Vancouver Island in Gulf Islands National Park features 30 pet-friendly campsites available for RVs and tents. There are no RV hookups in the campground. RV length limit at the campground is 35 feet (11 m), however campers with larger rigs can contact the park to find out if there is space available. The campsites in the campground are located in a forested setting, with both sunny and shaded sites. Amenities at the campground include potable water, picnic tables, pit toilets, and fire pits.

The campground is accessible via public transit (Route 72—Swartz Bay/Downtown) and offers access to the Lochside Cycling Trail.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Gulf Islands National Park

In-Season

Geocaching

Treasure hunting at Gulf Islands National Park leads RV campers to places that blow their minds away and establish the park as a fantastic camping destination. The geocaching program in the park helps campers learn about the cultural heritage, as well as the natural features of the park. This geocaching program includes the Gulf Islands Survivor Challenge, and the Top Ten Challenge. The Gulf Islands Survivor Challenge is an easy geocaching exercise, while the Top Ten Challenge is a more advanced exercise. RV campers get to choose which one they want based on their skills level and preference.

Hiking

There are various hiking opportunities for RV campers of all ages and skills to enjoy at Gulf Islands National Park, from easy trails to strenuous hikes. You can choose to hike on shoreline trails that lead to hidden beaches and coves where you can see the Pacific Ocean up close. You could also take uphill climbs to enjoy amazing views of the Gulf Islands and its surrounding waters. Even more, you could walk along the forest trails to appreciate the beautiful natural features in the park. All of these, and more, you can enjoy on the 13 designated trails in the park.

Boating

The lovely waters of Gulf Islands National Park provide great settings for RV campers to enjoy boating activities at the park. On boats, campers can easily access the various islands that make up the park and enjoy their distinctive features. Some of these islands are only possible to access by boats, meaning that campers who love boating get exclusive access to all the islands in the park. As a result, no one misses out on the boat ride in Gulf Islands National Park.

Off-Season

Swimming

Gulf Islands National Park features many popular swimming areas for RV campers to take a dip in the cold waters of the Gulf Islands. Some of the swimming locations include Sidney Spit on Sidney Island, East Point on Saturna Island, and Cabbage Island, near Saturna Island. Sidney Spit waters are ideal for family swimming as the waters are in a sheltered location.

Paddling

Gulf Islands National Park is an ideal paddling location for RV campers who love to enjoy kayaking and canoeing, particularly as the islands in the park feature accessible and beautiful archipelagos. The paddling distances in the park are short, and the scenery varies from island to island. Even more interesting is the fact that campers get to see killer whales, bald eagles, seals, sea lions, otters and other beautiful creatures while paddling.

Cycling

There are many destinations for cycling adventures in Gulf Islands National Park. The roads on Mayne Island are shorter and relatively gentle in terms of slope, making the island the easiest place to cycle at the park. There are many interesting stops along the roads that make the tour on the island an enjoyable one. For challenging rides, cycle on the Pender Island and Saturna Island where you’ll find winding hilly roads within a pastoral setting.

There are no biking trails available in the park, however, there are a number of mountain biking trails available in the Vancouver Island region.

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