Located just a hop, skip, and jump from Vancouver, Kearsley Creek campground at Stave Lake is one of the best camping spots that’s probably not on your radar! Here’s everything you need to know about what it’s like to camp at Stave West Camping.
Stave Lake is one of those hidden delights. It’s easy to find provincial parks thanks to the BC Parks website, but it’s harder to find those not-so-well-advertised gems for camping. It’s even harder to find one closer to Vancouver!
I’m not entirely sure when I discovered Stake West Camping, but I’ve always kept it in my back pocket. And when I was late to the game for nabbing a provincial site, I took out my secret weapon and booked a spot at Stave Lake.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was just as good as any of the other rustic provincial parks I’ve been to! But really, it’s hard to go wrong camping at a lake amongst the mountains.
I’ve now been twice, once with a group of gals and another with my boyfriend. Each time was a delight, enjoying the quietness of being out of service and able to dip my toes in the water.
Reserving a Campsite at Stave Lake
Stave West Camping are a grouping of four recreation sites rather than a provincial park. Operated by Recreation Sites and Trails, you can still reserve campsites online through their website.
There are four campsites you can reserve, each with its own characteristics: Rock Creek, Kearsley Creek, Rocky Point, and Sayres Lake. I have camped at Kearsley Creek which is the one I’ll focus on, but most of the below apply to all the campsites!
Kearsley Creek costs $18 a night, including a reservation fee. Reservations can be made no more than 30 days in advance. Besides reserving a site, there are first come first serve sites (cash only) that you can try and snag. They also operate similar reservable sites along Harrison Lake.
Stave Lake Location
Plenty of people in the area are off-roading and on ATVs. The others might be boating or enjoying the trails with their horses. It’s a very outdoorsy area.
The gravel road to get to the campsites is considered an active service road. It’s going to be very bumpy, dusty when hot, and muddy when wet. However, many people are on the road and going at the right speed, all vehicles should be able to handle it. Just be sure to have a spare tire just in case. Both times I went, I passed someone changing their tire on the side of the road.
All of the campsites are technically on a lower arm of the lake. With a boat, you can access the much larger main body of Stave Lake. Kearsley Creek is located on the lake, and while you can swim, I have definitely seen better swimming spots. Still! It’s great on a hot day and as scenic as ever.
Amenities at Kearsley Creek
Camping at Stave Lake is considered rustic camping. Since it’s not a provincial park, you don’t get as many amenities. But you’re not left hanging!
At each site, you’ll get a firepit and a large picnic table. The spaces are fairly large and can accommodate good size RVs and groups.
While there are outhouses to use, there’s no water tap. This means you need to bring ALL your water for drinking, dishes, cleaning, showering, etc. You also will not find any flushable toilets, outhouses only. You’re also expected to pack out all your garbage.
The camp hosts are very friendly and helpful, selling firewood any time there’s no fire ban. The other amazing thing you can do here is get kayak, canoe, and SUP rentals from Ridge Wilderness Adventures. Only open on the weekends and the summer season, you can check out their prices here. Cash only for drop-ins (you likely won’t have service camping out here!).
While I wish I was coordinated enough to plan out all my camping trips in advance, the reality is that summers get busy quickly and camping gets squeezed in when I can. This means I can’t always get a reservation for provincial parks or there’s very little available. I like that Stave Lake Camping has a one-month reservation window and I can usually get one with no problem. Like anywhere in BC, it’s a beautiful spot only a quick drive from Vancouver for little camping getaways.
Written by contributor, Holly Heuver.