Rolley Lake Camping


Quick Facts:
  • BC Provincial Parks website: https://bcparks.ca/rolley-lake-park/
  • Access to water: quick drive to the day use beach. No views of the lake from campground.
  • Deluxe facilities: flush toilets, hot shower, playground
  • Activities: water sports, hiking
  • Beach type: sandy beach
  • Outdoor Fam rating: 7 out of 10

Rolley Lake Provincial Park features a sizable frontcountry campground close (but not immediately adjacent) to the small and paddler-friendly Rolley Lake, with luxurious amenities including hot shower, flush toilet, and a playground.

We put this campground high on our to-visit list, and at the first sight of warmish weather this spring (14 degrees to 21 degrees in the day, and 5 degrees overnight), we hopped on the chance to kick start our camping season this year.

This year, Tina is out of commission for camping since we just welcomed a new addition to our Outdoor Family. We camped 2 years ago when Little Bro was just 4 months old, but the cold chills of climbing out of her sleeping bag at night to breastfeed the baby was not an experience worth repeating. We agreed to wait at least until the kids can skip the night time feeds to attempt again.

So we recruited the intrepid Grandpa to the trip. He and Grandma instilled the love of camping into my brother and me when we were younger, so they are very much an important part of our outdoor family.

Grandpa was a little hesitant at first, until I found out that they just stocked 2000 rainbow trouts in Rolley Lake last month and Grandpa has been itching to catch a fish.

Our decision was made the day before departure, so it was too last minute to make a reservation. I saw on the provincial parks website that most campsites were still open for First Come First Served visitors. With all the players confirmed, we headed out with our spirits full.

We arrived to find one of the very best sites open. It’s right next to the playground and shower facility where the only flush toilets are. We checked the availability form at the campground entrance, and sure enough, it was up for grabs.

65 sites with only a handful booked.

With our site secure, we got busy setting things up. We were well practiced by now, so it was all very easy.

It was so easy to let the kids pop in and out of the playground, since we can easily watch them from our site.

The playground was designed for 5-12 year olds, but knowing the careful nature of our two boys, we trusted them to explore the structure safely.

Being so close, Junior could even play on the playground first thing in the morning before brushing his teeth.

We went hiking around the park in the morning/early afternoon while we wait for the peak afternoon temperature.

Our main target for the camping trip was of course paddling on Rolley Lake. We’ve reviewed paddling on Rolley Lake in a previous post. The campground did have a few trails that lead to the lake, but it’s rocky and steep, thus unsuitable for Grandpa’s raft. We drove the car down to the day use area to launch.

Sandy beach at the day use area

We spent both afternoons on the lake, but disappointingly, Grandpa did not catch a fish.

The crew on the water

Both times the brothers quickly fell asleep to the gentle breeze, the sound of water, and the sways of the paddleboard. I paddle a few loops around the lake with Junior snoring on my board for more than an hour. Instead of practicing paddling on his own board like I had hoped, Junior got very good at sleeping on my paddleboard this trip.

The air temperature reached a summer-like 20 degrees but the water was still cool. The kids were comfortable and safe with a full wetsuit on beneath their rain coat, pants, and boots.

For dinner, Grandpa pulled out a new trick: campfire steak. He wrapped the metal grate in aluminum foil and poked holes in it to let heat and some smoke through. There were a few places selling firewood just outside the park gate.

It was almost too hot to flip the steaks over the fire, so next time we should bring a pair of BBQ tongs. Thankfully I brought my fire resistant gloves so not a single strand of hair was burnt.

The result was quite amazing! The smoky flavor was not achievable with a propane BBQ. It was hard to control the temperature, so parts of the steak was more done than our preference, but the superior flavor more than made up for it.

Junior approves!

At night, without Tina’s support, I had trouble settling the two excited brothers. They couldn’t even focus on a single page of story book, so the nighttime routine was thrown out of the window. Last year, we usually got Little Bro asleep first before we put Junior in the tent.

Thankfully, Little Bro suddenly asked for Grandpa and was sent to Grandpa’s tent. To our astonishment, Little Bro fell asleep within minutes. It was much easier to quiet down Junior then, since we broke the positive feedback loop between the brothers.

“Headlight”!

A few things we learned:

  • 5 degrees Celsius is our lowest comfortable night time temperature with our current gears
  • it’s hard to expect the boys to function much in the afternoon during their nap time. Next time I need a better way to let them sleep for 1-2 hours before bringing them on the water. Even though they slept very well on the water now, it’s hard to transition them from sleep-boarding to paddle-boarding.

Overall, Rolley Lake Provincial Park is an excellent family friendly park just 1.5 hour from Vancouver. It’s in many ways comparable to Alice Lake Provincial Park. Rolley Lake is better for paddling but Alice Lake has a kayak rental shop, a pump track, and swimming docks. Alice Lake also has more hiking options to choose from.


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