Location: Porteau Cove Provincial Park
# of Campsites: 60: 44 vehicle-accessible sites, 16 walk-in sites, plus two cabins
Cost per night: $20+
Facilities: Drinking water, boat launch, electrical hook-ups, campfire rings, picnic areas, toilets, showers
Activities: Hiking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, SUPing, cycling, windsurfing, scuba diving
# of Hiking Trails: 1
Getting to the Campground
Porteau Cove is located 20 kilometres south of Squamish, along the stunning Sea to Sky Highway. Drive past the day use area and continue to the camping check-in booth.
The Campground Itself
Oceanfront views, pebbly beaches, picnic areas and clean campsites fill this pristine park. Across the water, evergreen-cloaked mountains rise like undulating waves.
In the vehicle-accessible campground, trailers and RVs abound, though you’ll also spot some cars and tents. Campsites come equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. A shower building with hot water and electrical outlets is located in the campground.
The walk-in campground area quite literally requires a short “walk in” from the parking lot. It's about a 200-metre, three-minute flat walk to the campsites. Onsite wheelbarrows may be available; we used our collapsible wagon to tote our gear to and from the car. There are no fire pits or picnic tables at the individual walk-in campsites. Instead, there are a few communal fire rings and a collection of picnic tables beneath a covered shelter with a sink and electrical outlets. There are two pit toilets (outhouses) located near the walk-in sites. Each site has a small sitting bench; we brought a collapsible table.
What It’s Really Like
We stayed at campsite W11, a walk-in campsite facing Howe Sound. I’ll admit I did a little dance when I saw the view from our allocated lot. However, the campsite was small—our Mountain Hardwear Bridger™ four-person tent basically took up our entire site.
Strangely, despite the campground being “full,” four of the campsites near us went unused all weekend. While I’d prefer to see people using their reservations, having those empty spots made the area feel more spacious. Otherwise, there’s barely any privacy between sites. We set up our chairs between the walls of our tent's large vestibule to create a bit more privacy.
We relaxed in front of our propane fire pit as the sunset painted the light blue sky in cotton-candy wisps of pink and peach.
Because we were camping on Thanksgiving long weekend, I sliced a piece of pumpkin pie, slathered it in whipped cream and added some pumpkin-shaped sprinkles for fun. We toasted turkey, cranberry and brie sandwiches in our cast iron pie makers and relaxed for the evening.
Before going to bed, we visited a communal fire ring. A family had gotten the fire started, and different groups came to enjoy the flickering flames (a rarity at campgrounds in the summer). It was a nice way to meet our fellow campers. At night, the sonorous sound of waves crashing on shore, mere metres from our tent, overtook the hum of traffic and lulled us to sleep.
In the morning, we brewed coffee and cooked breakfast with a view of the ocean. I enjoyed a delicious pistachio-pumpkin-flavoured brew in my ginormous Mountain Mug.
Since the weather was so beautiful, we hiked the very short, steep trail to the lookout over Howe Sound. It only took us about five minutes to reach the top.
The views were extremely gorgeous; the colour of the water was a mind-blowing turquoise.
Back at the campground, we spent hours on the beach. It’s a magical place with rocks perfect for skipping, soft sea glass and gnarly driftwood logs. It was easy to spend a peaceful afternoon enjoying the scenery, activities and good company.
The mountains cast shade over the campground, making it cool at the campsite in spring and autumn. We dressed in fleece and wore toques, enjoying an extremely cozy October weekend camping trip.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Why did we rate it this way? This is the most beautiful campground I've ever stayed in—which explains why securing a reservation is so difficult. The train and traffic noise, along with limited privacy, are the main reasons this campground didn’t score a 10.
Important things to know: As the campground is just off the highway, you’ll hear traffic throughout the day. An active BC Rail track skirts the boundary of the park. Keep kids in sight and dogs on leash.
If You Go:
- This campground is extremely popular, so book well in advance.
- I wouldn’t recommend staying in the campsites that don’t border the ocean—you’ll be rife with jealousy.
- The walk-in sites are seriously small—if you have more than four people, multiple tents or just prefer more room, opt for a vehicle-accessible campsite.
- If you don’t mind the short walk, I’d recommend a walk-in site. Don’t forget to return all scented items to your vehicle before leaving your campsite or going to bed.