Lough Leane in Killarney National Park, Ireland.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Killarney National Park, Ireland.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Back to the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Boondocking across Canada

One of our facebook fans asked about the possibilities of boondocking in Canada. Well, we've been all the way from coast to coast in our motorhome, and have never had a problem finding somewhere free to overnight.

Although Canada doesn't have the same type of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) opportunities that the U.S. does, Canada really does have much more open land available for similar use than the U.S.. The problem is that so much of it is further north.

In Canada, public lands are called Crown Land. Less than 11% of all land in Canada is privately owned. 41% is Federal Crown Land, and 48% is Provincial Crown Land.

Most of the Federal Crown Land is very far north...up in the Territories. And each province administers it's own provincial crown land. Provincial Crown Land varies widely. From a high of 95% in Newfoundland, to a low of 2% in Prince Edward Island.

Here is an example from the Province of Alberta  regarding camping and public land use...


And here is another from British Columbia...


Sherman, camping on crown land near Beaverdell, British Columbia. November 7, 2007.

But besides crown land, there are a ton of easy overnight opportunities. From rural church parking lots to out of the way small local airport parking lots. It's highly unlikely you would be bothered by anybody. In fact, we have never been asked to leave a free overnight spot in Canada.

Sherman, boondocking in a rural church parking lot in Nova Scotia.

In the photo above, a lady had wandered over from a nearby house, and when she came over, she said "I don't know why more people don't park here, it's such a beautiful spot". And it was.

In Canada, if you are out of the way and not bothering anybody, nobody will bother you.

Where Sherman was parked up for the night at the harbour of Ingonish, Nova Scotia.

In the province of Ontario, residents can legally boondock on provinical crown land for free, but international visitors must obtain a permit that costs almost $10 per person per night. I have no idea how they would enforce this, because the crown land in Ontario is pretty dispersed and they would have to find you first.  It's not a very welcoming system. Good thing there are lots of other opportunities for the smart boondocker...

Sherman, under the international bridge in Sault Ste Marie,Ontario.

I would honestly say that there is more boondocking available in Canada than there is in the U.S., but because a lot of the open land is more remote, and there aren't as many people using it, the information isn't as readily available online.

Also, get the free iOverlander app, and the paid Ultimate Campgrounds app.

Oh...an update to our crossing the border post from yesterday. Did you know that Canadians can access their border crossing history online? All you need is your name, passport number, and birthdate and if you input the data you get something that looks like this...

Kevin's border crossing history.

Canadians and other international visitors can access their U.S. border crossing history here...

Fantastic one day sale on men's Seiko watches at Amazon.com...

And, the popular Coleman Roadtrip Grill is going to be on lightening deal later today. It's already a good price, but it's going to get cheaper for a three hour period this afternoon!


  1. There is lots of places to park, but southern Ontario is harder, Casinos will work most of the time too.

    1. Yes, casinos are always a good place to park an we have use them before too!

  2. Thanx for the Canada boondocking info. I love your April 20, 2013 departure history! You must have sneaked under the fence or something :)

    1. Hope you find it useful if you come up here in the summertime.

      Yah, it, just goes to show you just how small that border crossing is, they can't even give it a name!

  3. We hope to be up in the Maritimes next month. SO doesn't generally approve of boondocking, though. As far as border crossings, remote ports of entry like the one you showed the other day are my preference. I've seen some really nasty lines going towards Vancouver, for example.

    1. The Maritimes are beautiful and you will enjoy it as long as the weather is decent. Trust us, you will not have a problem with boondocking in the Maritmes, people are so friendly you would probably get invited over to their house for a drink. ;-)

      We agree the small border crossings are usually much more friendly and a much shorter wait time.

  4. Discovered boondocking on the road last year when some RV park owner who was on something would not allow us in his park,...ended up at a wal mart and have never looked back..in reference to NS, we actually have a law stating that you are not allowed to overnight at wally mark but it isn't enforced..just follow the normal rules like asking the mgr..

    Great blog...love some of the sites you found..

    1. We don't really consider parking at a Walmart as boondocking but rather dry camping although it is still free! :-) Boondocking for us is staying out in the boonies, somewhere a little more picturesque than a parking lot.

      I know a few years ago they were trying to ban boondocking/dry camping altogether in Nova Scotia but it never happened. We found the harbour areas in the little towns/villages to be some of the best places to stay.

  5. @Creigh Gordon
    Remote crossings are not always better or faster. The only time we ever had our entire RV thorouly searched by border patrol was at a remote crossing coming out of Manitoba. Took more than 1/2 hour to "process us" and not one other vehicle arrived during that time. They were obviously bored and we were their entertainment.

    1. You are partly right on that Shunpiker although we have never had that happen to us at a small crossing but the thought does go through our mind. You never know, just depends on the border guard I guess.

  6. Thanks for the tip, Kevin, about accessing your own border crossing history online. Am sharing with my readers!

  7. I find your post on boondocking in Canada very interesting.. I live in BC and would love to travel around the province and Canada like the full time americans do. I must not be very adventuresome. I drove to Sask. and thought to myself wow there are no boondocking sites...I would love people to help me out with this and give me ideas. I would like to spend some time boon doocking here in my province and other provinces
    my email is [email protected]... I would love as much input as possible

    1. The more boondocking you do the better you get at finding places. Often we have found that if you as the locals or even the police they can generally suggest somewhere where you can park up wouldn't be bothered.

      Kevin will send you an email when he has a little more time but if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask away and we will try to help in anyway we can. Also another really good resource is www.ultimatecampgrounds.com. I believe that they may still be working on the Canada section or it is possible that it has been completed at this point.

  8. I wonder if it was noisy parking under that grand bridge? We truly enjoyed boondocking in both Newfoundland and Labrador when we were up in those parts a few years ago. Wonderful sites, too.

    1. If I remember correctly it was a bit noisy because it was the international bridge between Canada an the USA plus there was a railroad bridge there as well. This was only in our 1st week or so into our fulltime RVing experience so we were still newbies! ;-)

      We would imagine that there must have been a ton of great boondocking places in Newfoundland and Labrador, we can't wait to take Sherman there one day to explore.

  9. Any suggestions for dry camping near Vancouver BC
    Planning time on Vancouver Island but would like to spend several days in the city as well.

    1. Well it was years ago that we were in that area but one of the places that we stayed at was the Boulevard Casino. Not sure if that is still a possibility or not.


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