Thursday, May 21, 2009

Camping getaways close to the city

I forgot to post my urban camping story for getaways as close as 30 minutes to the city.

By Andrea Warner

Weekend camping getaways can feel like a lot more effort than they’re worth: stuffing a tent, sleeping bags, food and other provisions into the car, then spending hours driving to the Interior or the Okanagan, only to set up your campsite for 36 hours before taking it all down and hitting the long road back home. We know you have better ways to spend your time, so we’ve rounded up the quickest and closest ways to help you commune with nature — as little as 30 minutes from your favourite downtown Starbucks and the soothing sounds of the outdoors.

•Dogwood Campgrounds

Quiet, affordable, and within minutes of a major mall if you start freaking out about being so far from the city. Dogwood offers campsites, RV sites, and a little grocery store for mini-emergencies. And there’s an on-site playground in which children can run themselves ragged, ensuring early bedtimes for everyone. (15151 112th Ave., Surrey;

•Mt. Seymour
If you’re feeling truly adventurous and ready to leave behind the luxuries of city living, Mt. Seymour permits walk-in/wilderness camping in its back-country. Enter north of Brockton Point and stay as long as you like (but no open fires). It’s a beautiful forested environment during the summer and dense with snow during the winter, but there aren’t many amenities, so make sure to bring enough food and water for your stay (and garbage bags to clean up after yourself). A group campsite for larger parties can be reserved by calling 604-986-2261, ext. 214. (1700 Mt. Seymour Road, North Vancouver;

•Fort Camping

Located in Brae Island Regional Park, Fort Camping offers beach access, kayaking lessons, and plenty of supervised activities for kids, allowing parents their own playtime. Upcoming theme weekends this month include a Mother’s Day tea party, a “Nifty ’50s” retro long weekend (complete with Elvis impersonator), a pet show, and a chocolate festival! Fort Camping also provide sites for all sizes — tents, campers, and RVs. (9451 Glover Rd., Ft. Langley;

RV hookups, tent camping, and cabins — this is the perfect set-up for those looking to test the camping waters. Cabins sleep up to five, and offer a TV, barbecue, and a mini fridge. But be prepared: The cabins don’t have running water or bathrooms, so you can still say you’re roughing it even if you bring your 700-thread-count sheets. (18843 8th Ave., Surrey;

•Paradise Valley

Halfway up the Sea-to-Sky Highway, but worth the journey, this campsite is nestled in the wilderness, and promotes learning about its eco systems while navigating the trails and waterways that have solidified its reputation as a nature sanctuary. On the upside: giant scoops of ice cream. Downside: pay showers. (3520 Paradise Rd., Squamish;

•Rolley Lake Provincial Park
The warm-water lake is a nice alternative to freezing your bits off, and the predominantly flat landscape makes hiking a breeze for novice nature enthusiasts. If it’s true adventure you’re looking for, try your hand at paddling around the lake in a canoe, or fishing for your supper (but get a license!). (Dewdney Trunk and Bell Rd., Maple Ridge;

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