1. Pacific Rim National Park, B.C.
Green Point Campground
The main draw: Long Beach is the ultimate Pacific experience—22 kilometres of sand with a horizon that disappears into the ocean. Green Point marks the lone campground along its length. The campsites here sit on a ledge above the beach, close enough to the ocean that the sound of surf lulls campers to sleep. A short path descends to the sand. Most of the 113 sites are drive-in but there are 18 walk-in spots that are somewhat secluded.
Things to do: Start by exploring the beach. Walk or run in either direction and scan the flotsam for beach booty. Of course, you can also go for a swim, but be aware that the water is about 10°C. If you’re into surfing, there are almost always waves at Long Beach, but if you’re looking for more serious action, or lessons, you can head 20 minutes north to the town of Tofino. Grey whales spend the summer in the waters just offshore, and one of the best places to see them is at the Amphitrite Lighthouse in the town of Uclulelet, about 20 minutes south of the campground.
Nugget: You can turn a one-way stroll along the beach into a loop by catching the Tofino Bus (tofinobus.com) back to the campground.
More info: Parks Canada
2. Alice Lake Provincial Park, B.C.
The main draw: What this small park lacks in size it makes up for in location, sitting just north of Squamish—“Canada’s Outdoor Recreation Capital.” Campground paths link into the area’s world-class mountain-biking network. Nearby hiking is steep but spectacular with mountain-to-ocean views. And of course there’s the rock climbing that put Squamish on the map. When you get tired—and you will—hop in Alice Lake for a refreshing dip and then relax on the sandy beach.
Things to do: A good warm-up to Squamish mountain biking is Wonderland, a three-kilometre roller-coaster ride starting just outside the campground. Link it with Brackendale trails and Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit for an intermediate loop. Forgo hiking in the park itself for better trails a short drive away: the hike to the three summits of the Stawamus Chief, the trek to the alpine meadows on the way to Elfin Shelter, and the stiff but rewarding climb to Garibaldi Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Get a feel for the local granite at the one-pitch-rich Smoke Bluffs climbing area before getting high on a Squamish multi-pitch classic, such as Snake or Diedre.
Nugget: Don’t miss Squamish’s Howe Sound Brewing (howesound.com), where you can sample seven local ales with a woodfire pizza.