Gold Creek Walk-In Campsites at Golden Ears Provincial Park

Quite presciently, BC Parks added 65 campsites at the ultra popular Golden Ears Provincial Park in 2019. This undoubtedly helped with the COVID-19 Outdoor Rush of 2020 and 2021. Twenty of these new additions are walk-in sites at the Gold Creek Campground. (A common misconception is that “walk-ins” mean no reservation or First Come First Served. In BC Provincial Park lingo, a walk-in site simply means you cannot park your car in the campsite. It does not denote whether a site is reservable or FCFS. At Golden Ears, these walk-in sites are fully reservable.)

When all the drive-in campsites were full, there were still walk-in sites available for reservation. We initially had concerns because it wasn’t clear where the walk-in campers would park their cars, but we found out through a helpful Facebook camping group that the parking spots were in fact very close to the sites at the Gold Creek Campground.

Parking lots for the Gold Creek Walk-in Campsites.
Gold Creek Campground, with parking lots for the Gold Creek Walk-In campsites marked as P1 and P2.

The two parking lots are located between the DTD22 and DTD28 sites. P1 is reserved parking for F1 to F8 campsites, and P2 is for H1 to H12. One car per campsite is allowed, and a park ranger paid us a visit to check our license plate and parking decal to make sure of that.

Parking lot for F1 to F8.
Walk path to F1 campsite.
Parking lot for H1 to H12 campsites.
Path to H1 campsite from parking lot. It’s less than 20 meters.
Path to H5 to H12 with the pit toilet shared by the H sites.

Being walk-in sites, campers have to carry in their gear. F1, H1 and H5 are the closest campsites to their respective parking lots.

The map makes it look like the campground is close to Alouette Lake, so H10, H11, and H12 sites are pretty popular, being the ones “closest to the lake” on the campground map. But campers would be disappointed to find that the campground is 40 meters above the lake level behind dense woods, so you can’t actually even see the lake. The trail to Campers Beach is about 800 meters long from this campground.

The Gold Creek Walk-in Campsites enjoys a constant soothing noise of the nearby Gold Creek.

The campsite itself is a small gravel patch with a fire ring and a picnic table, surrounded by trees. Unlike most drive-in campsites, only 1 tent is allowed. Despite having half of the occupancy limits, half of the usable space, the inconvenience of walking-in, and the longer distance to shower facilities, the camping fee at a walk-in campsite is the same as a single site ($35/night plus a reservation fee). This probably explains why everyone opts for the traditional drive-in single sites over a walk-in site.

But thanks to the relative unpopularity, we were able to book H1 for our outing within a week of arrival, allowing us to choose the perfect weather for the outing. For us as a family of 4, it’s just what we needed.

H1 campsite, our little home for the night.

As we set up camp, Junior and Little Bro were busy goofing around and exploring.

A word of caution if you have a little explorer on your hands: make sure they don’t venture too far off the gravel campsite. There is a sudden drop-off only a few meters from the campsites on the outer perimeters.

There is a sudden drop off where the green grass ends.

With our ground rules established, we got busy with cooking.

Dinner is served. Noodles with panfried beef, spinach, and grill/steamed eggs.

After dinner I made a feeble attempt at starting a campfire using some leftover firewood from previous campers. I couldn’t get more than a little fire going with these scrap wood. For a few months after this, Junior kept making fun of me about how making fires was so difficult. Lesson learned: buy a proper bunch of firewood, and go watch some YouTube videos about starting a fire.

Unsuccessful attempt with these scrap wood; the fire fizzled out after a few minutes. I went home and watched half a dozen YouTube videos on campfires.

Then finally, Junior and I went on a night time adventure walk to check out the washroom and campground a little bit, before turning in for the night.

One of our concerns regarding camping with toddlers (well, a toddler and a crawler) was keeping them warm at night. Overnight, the lowest it got was about 7 degrees Celsius. The kids had bunting onesie suits plus a sleeping bag. The adults used -18C winter sleeping bags. Everyone was positively toasty all night.

Another concern was the disruption to their sleep routine making it hard for them to sleep. To mitigate the worst of it and to test the warmth of our gears, we practiced sleeping in the tent in our backyard. On this trip, Little Bro slept like a champ after Tina put him down, but that meant Tina couldn’t join us for our nighttime adventure. Junior did wake up in the middle of the night and launched straight into a crying fit. Turned out he wanted to pee. We found out very quickly that using the potty on our inflatable sleep mat was too unstable, so he went out into our tent vestibule. Thankfully it wasn’t too cold yet. But his tantrum woke up Little Bro, so Tina had to nurse him back to sleep in the cold.

The rest of the night went smoothly and we woke to a bright and sunny morning.

We had a quick breakfast and took down our tent. Check out time, like all BC Parks, is 11am.

Overall, it was a great success for our first time camping by ourselves as a family. We had always done it with friends and family in the past who are great at sharing resources (ie. food!), so we had to get some new camping gears that are functional and able to fit into our mid-sized sedan. It was a great feeling to know that we can be self sufficient and enjoy the camping experience.

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